- July 18, 1982 (age 39)
- Model, Actor, Singer-songwriter
- Ashok Chopra, Madhu Chopra
Priyanka Chopra (born 18 July 1982) is an Indian actress, singer, film producer, philanthropist, and the winner of the Miss World 2000 pageant. One of India's highest-paid and most popular celebrities, Chopra has received numerous awards, including a National Film Award and five Filmfare Awards. In 2016, the Government of India honoured her with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, and Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Although Chopra initially aspired to study aeronautical engineering, she accepted offers to join the Indian film industry, which came as a result of her pageant wins, making her Bollywood debut in The Hero (2003). She played the leading lady in the box-office hits Andaaz (2003) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), and earned praise for her breakout role in the 2004 thriller Aitraaz. In 2006, Chopra established herself as a leading actress of Indian cinema with starring roles in the top-grossing productions Krrish and Don.
Following a brief setback, she received critical acclaim for playing a troubled model in the drama Fashion (2008), which won her the Filmfare and National Film Award for Best Actress. Chopra subsequently gained wider recognition for portraying a range of characters in the films Kaminey (2009), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Barfi! (2012), Mary Kom (2014), Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), all of which garnered her several awards and nominations. In 2015, she began starring as Alex Parrish on the ABC thriller series Quantico, becoming the first South Asian to headline an American network series.
In addition to her acting career, Chopra is noted for her philanthropic work. She has worked with UNICEF for the last ten years and was appointed as the national and global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights in 2010 and 2016 respectively. She promotes various causes such as environment, health and education, and women's rights and is particularly vocal about gender equality and feminism. Chopra's off-screen life is the subject of substantial media coverage. As a recording artist, she has released three singles. She is also the founder of the production company Purple Pebble Pictures, which released the acclaimed Marathi comedy-drama Ventilator (2016).
Priyanka Chopra was born on 18 July 1982 in Jamshedpur, Bihar (now in Jharkhand), to Ashok and Madhu Chopra, both physicians in the Indian Army. Her father was a Punjabi from Ambala. Her mother, from Jharkhand, is the eldest daughter of Ms. Madhu Jyotsna Akhouri, a former member of Bihar Legislative Assembly, and Dr. Manohar Kishan Akhouri, a former Congress veteran. Chopra has a brother, Siddharth, who is seven years her junior and actresses Parineeti Chopra, Meera Chopra and Mannara Chopra are her cousins. Due to her parents' occupations the family relocated to a number of places in India, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Ambala, Ladakh, Lucknow, Bareilly, and Pune. Among the schools she attended were La Martiniere Girls' School in Lucknow and St. Maria Goretti College in Bareilly. In an interview published in Daily News and Analysis, Chopra said that she did not mind travelling regularly and changing schools; she welcomed it as a new experience and a way to discover India's multicultural society Among the many places that she lived, Chopra has fond memories as a child of playing in the valleys of Leh, in the cold northwestern Indian desert region of Jammu and Kashmir. She has said, "I think I was in Class 4 when I was in Leh. My brother was just born. My dad was in the army and was posted there. I stayed in Leh for a year and my memories of that place are tremendous ... We were all army kids there. We weren't living in houses, we were in bunkers in the valley and there was a stupa right on top of a hill which used to overlook our valley. We used to race up to the top of the stupa". She now considers Bareilly her home town, and maintains strong connections there.
At the age of thirteen, Chopra moved to the United States to study, living with her aunt, and attending schools in Newton, Massachusetts, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after a stop in Queens, New York, as her aunt's family also moved frequently. While in Massachusetts, she participated in several theatre productions and studied Western classical music, choral singing and Kathak dance. During her teenage years in America, Chopra sometimes faced racial issues and was bullied for being Indian. She has said, "I was a gawky kid, had low self-esteem, came from a modest middle-class background, had white marks on my legs ... But I was damn hard working. Today, my legs sell 12 brands."
After three years, Chopra returned to India, finishing the senior year of her high-school education at the Army Public School in Bareilly. During this period, she won the local "May Queen" beauty pageant, after which she was pursued by admirers, leading her family to equip their home with bars for her protection. Her mother then entered her in the Femina Miss India contest of 2000; she finished second, winning the Femina Miss India World title. Chopra then went on to the Miss World pageant, where she was crowned Miss World 2000 and Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty—Asia & Oceania at the Millennium Dome in London on 30 November 2000. Chopra was the fifth Indian contestant to win Miss World, and the fourth to do so in seven years. She had enrolled in college, but left after winning the Miss World pageant. Chopra said that the Miss India and Miss World titles brought her recognition, and she then began receiving offers for film roles.
Chopra has maintained a strong relationship with her family, including her younger brother, Siddharth, and lives in an apartment on the same floor as her family. She was especially close to her father, who died in June 2013; in 2012, she got a tattoo reading "Daddy's lil girl", in his handwriting. Having not come from a film background, she describes herself as a self-made woman. Her mother, a well-established gynaecologist in Bareilly, gave up her practice to support Chopra as she embarked upon a film career.
Career beginnings and breakthrough (2002–2004)
After winning Miss India World, Chopra was cast as the female lead in Abbas-Mustan's romantic thriller Humraaz (2002), in which she was to make her film debut. However, this fell through for various reasons: she stated the production conflicted with her schedule, while the producers said they re-cast because Chopra took on various other commitments. Her screen debut occurred in the 2002 Tamil film Thamizhan as the love interest of the protagonist, played by Vijay. A review published in The Hindu was appreciative of the film for its wit and dialogue, however it felt that Chopra's role was limited from an acting viewpoint.
In 2003, Chopra made her Bollywood film debut as the second female lead opposite Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta in Anil Sharma's The Hero: Love Story of a Spy Set against the backdrop of the Indian Army in Kashmir, the film tells the story of an agent and his fight against terrorism. The Hero was one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films that year, but received mixed reviews from critics. Derek Elley from Variety said that "mega-looker Chopra makes a solid screen debut." Later that year she appeared in Raj Kanwar's box-office success Andaaz with Akshay Kumar, again sharing the female lead (this time with the debuting Lara Dutta). Chopra played a vivacious young girl who falls in love with Kumar's character. The Hindustan Times noted the glamour that she brought to the role; Kunal Shah of Sify praised her performance and stated she had "all the qualities to be a star." Her performance earned her the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut (along with Dutta) and a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Chopra's first three releases in 2004—Plan, Kismat, and Asambhav—performed poorly at the box-office. Chopra was typically cast during this earlier period as a "glamour quotient", in roles that were considered "forgettable" by film critic Joginder Tuteja. Later that year she starred with Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar in David Dhawan's romantic comedy Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, which became the third-highest-grossing film of the year in India and emerged as a major commercial success.
In late 2004, she starred opposite Kumar and Kareena Kapoor in Abbas-Mustan's thriller Aitraaz. Chopra considers her first role as an antagonist, portraying Soniya Roy, an ambitious woman who accuses her employee of sexual harassment, as the "biggest learning experience of her career." The film was a critical and commercial success, and Chopra's performance received critical acclaim. Author Rini Bhattacharya credited her for bringing back the seductress to the silver screen. The Hindustan Times cited it as the film that changed her career significantly. A reviewer writing for the BBC said, "Aitraaz is Priyanka Chopra's film. As the deliciously wicked, gold digging, scheming seductress, she chews up every scene she is in with her magnetic screen presence." She won a Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role, becoming the second and final actress to win the award after Kajol (the category was discontinued in 2008). Chopra also received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Early success and setbacks (2005–2008)
In 2005, Chopra appeared in six films. Her first two releases—Blackmail, and Karam—were commercially unsuccessful. Shilpa Bharatan-Iyer of Rediff.com considered Blackmail to be a very predictable film and believed that her role as a police commissioner's wife was very limited from an acting point of view. Her performance in Karam was better received, Subhash K. Jha wrote that Chopra "with her poised interpretation of high drama, flies high creating a character whose vulnerability and beauty are endorsed by both the inner and outer worlds created for her character." Later that year Chopra played the wife of Akshay Kumar in Vipul Amrutlal Shah's family drama Waqt: The Race Against Time, the story of a small businessman (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who, hiding his illness, wants to teach his irresponsible son some lessons before he dies. During production, Chopra revisited Leh, a favourite childhood haunt, for the shooting of the song "Subah Hogi". She suffered an accident during the filming for the song "Do Me A Favour Let's Play Holi" when she electrocuted herself, spending a day recovering in hospital. The film was well received by critics, and was a commercial success.
She next starred opposite Arjun Rampal in the romantic mystery thriller Yakeen, portraying the role of a possessive lover. Critical reaction towards the film was mixed, but her performance received praise. Taran Adarsh wrote that Chopra "is bound to win laurels yet again [...] the actor is emerging as one of the finest talents in these fast-changing times". Her next release was Suneel Darshan's romance Barsaat, co-starring Bobby Deol and Bipasha Basu. The film was a critical and commercial failure in India but fared better in the overseas market. Chopra's performance received mixed reviews, with Bollywood Hungama describing it as "mechanical". However, Rediff.com considered Chopra to be an "epitome of calm intelligence, who underplayed her role to perfection". Later that year, Rohan Sippy cast her with Abhishek Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Nana Patekar in the comedy Bluffmaster! Chopra played independent working woman Simran Saxena, Bachchan's love interest. The film proved to be a box-office success.
After starting 2006 with special appearances in three films, Chopra starred in Rakesh Roshan's superhero film Krrish (a sequel to the 2003 science-fiction film Koi... Mil Gaya). Co-starring with Hrithik Roshan, Rekha and Naseeruddin Shah, Chopra played a young television journalist who schemes to take advantage of an innocent young man with remarkable physical abilities, but eventually falls in love with him. The film was the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India and grossed over ₹1.17 billion (US$18 million) worldwide attaining a blockbuster status. Her next film was Dharmesh Darshan's romantic comedy Aap Ki Khatir, co-starring Akshaye Khanna, Ameesha Patel and Dino Morea. Neither the film nor Chopra's performance were well received. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com stated that Chopra's portrayal of Anu was "erratically sketched" and that her character was never consistent: "first flaky, then cool, and later, sensitive".
Chopra's final release of 2006 was Farhan Akhtar's action-thriller Don (a remake of the 1978 film of the same name), with Shah Rukh Khan. Chopra portrayed Roma (played by Zeenat Aman in the original film), who joins the underworld to avenge Don for killing her brother. Chopra received martial-arts training for her role in the movie, and performed her own stunts. The film was declared a box-office success in India and overseas, with revenues of ₹1.05 billion (US$16 million). Raja Sen of Rediff.com found Chopra to be film's "big surprise"; he believed that Chopra convincingly portrayed Roma, "looking every bit the competent woman of action" and wrote "This is an actress willing to push herself, and has definite potential for screen magic. Not to mention a great smile."
In 2007, Chopra had two leading roles. Her first film was Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, a romantic comedy in six chapters with an ensemble cast. She was featured opposite Salman Khan in the first chapter as Kamini, an item girl and aspiring actress who tries to land the lead role in a Karan Johar film with a publicity gimmick. Film critic Sukanya Verma praised her flair for comedy, especially her impressions of Meena Kumari, Nargis and Madhubala. Both Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love and her next film, Big Brother, proved unsuccessful at the domestic box-office.
In 2008, Chopra starred opposite Harman Baweja in his father's Love Story 2050. Chopra played a double role, so she coloured her hair twice; once red to portray the girl from the future and then black for the girl of the past. Her performance was poorly received; Rajeev Masand was unimpressed with Chopra's chemistry with her co-star, remarking that her character "fails to inspire either affection or sympathy". She next appeared in the comedy God Tussi Great Ho, portraying a TV anchor opposite Salman Khan, Sohail Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. The film was generally perceived to be plagiarised from the Hollywood comedy Bruce Almighty, although writer and director Rumi Jaffrey claimed it to be "a village folk tale about a Brahmin". Chopra next starred as a kindergarten teacher in Chamku opposite Bobby Deol and Irrfan Khan, and played the role of Sonia in Goldie Behl's fantasy superhero film Drona opposite Abhishek Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. Drona, widely criticised for its extensive use of special effects, marked Chopra's sixth film in succession which had failed at both the box-office and critically, although Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com stated that Chopra displayed convincing action heroine skills. Critics generally perceived at this time that her career was over.
Established actress (2008–2011)
The string of poorly received films ended when Chopra starred in Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion, a drama about the Indian fashion industry which followed the lives and careers of several fashion models. She portrayed the ambitious supermodel Meghna Mathur, a role which she initially thought was out of her depth, but after six months' consideration she accepted the role, inspired by Bhandarkar's confidence in her. For the role, Chopra had to gain 6 kilograms (13 lb) and steadily shed the weight during the production as the character progressed in the film. Both the film and her performance received critical acclaim, becoming a major turning point in her career. Rajeev Masand wrote, "Priyanka Chopra turns in a respectable performance, one that will inevitably go down as her best." For her performance, she won several awards, including the National Film Award for Best Actress, the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, the IIFA Award for Best Actress, the Screen Award for Best Actress, and the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. With a worldwide revenue of ₹600 million (US$9 million), Fashion emerged as a commercial success, and was listed by Subhash K. Jha as one of the best films of the decade with women protagonists. It was noted for being commercially successful despite being a women-centric film with no male lead. She said in retrospect, "I think actually Fashion kick started ... the process of female dominated films. Today you have so many other films which have done well with female leads."
Chopra's final film of the year was Tarun Mansukhani's romantic comedy Dostana, with Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. Set in Miami, the film tells the story of a friendship between her character and two men who pretend to be gay to share an apartment with her. Chopra played a stylish young fashion-magazine editor Neha, who is trying to deal with professional pressures in her life. Produced by Dharma Productions, the film was a financial success with worldwide revenues of over ₹860 million (US$13 million). Chopra's performance and look in the film were praised.
Widespread success (2011–2013)
Chopra's final release of the year saw her reprising her role as Roma in the second installment of the Don franchise, Don 2. Although the film received mixed reviews, Chopra's performance earned positive feedback from critics. According to The Express Tribune, "Chopra ... seems to be the perfect choice for an action heroine. As you watch her effortlessly beat up some thugs in the movie, you come to the realisation that she may be the first proper female action hero in Bollywood." Don 2 was a major success in India and overseas, earning over ₹2.06 billion (US$32 million) worldwide. Don 2 was showcased at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival and (with Don) at the 2012 International Film Festival of Marrakech, in Morocco.
Chopra's first film of 2012 was Karan Malhotra's action drama Agneepath, in which she starred with Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor. Produced by Karan Johar, the film is a remake of his father's 1990 production of the same name. In one of several accidents to happen during production, Chopra's lehenga (a traditional skirt) caught fire while filming a sequence for an elaborate Ganpati festival song. She featured as Kaali Gawde, Roshan's loquacious love interest in the film. Mayank Shekhar noted how much Chopra stood out in the male-dominated film. Agneepath broke Bollywood's highest opening-day earnings record, and had a worldwide gross of ₹1.93 billion (US$30 million). Chopra next co-starred with Shahid Kapoor in Kunal Kohli's romance, Teri Meri Kahaani. The film relates the stories of three unconnected couples (each played by Kapoor and Chopra), born in different eras. The film opened to mixed reactions from critics, but Chopra's performance was generally well received.
Continued acclaim and American debut (2014–2016)
In 2014, Chopra played the lead female role in Yash Raj Films's romantic action drama Gunday directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, alongside Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and Irrfan Khan. She portrayed Nandita, a cabaret dancer in Calcutta. Set in the 1970s, the film tells the story of two best friends, who fall in love with Chopra's character. Gunday proved to be a box-office success, grossing over ₹1 billion (US$16 million) worldwide. She next featured in Mary Kom, a biographical film of the five time world boxing champion and Olympic bronze medalist Mary Kom. To prepare for the role, she spent time with Kom and received four months of boxing training. The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, received positive reviews from critics, and her performance received critical acclaim. Namrata Joshi from Outlook felt that Chopra's sincere and earnest performance brings out Kom's "determination as well as her vulnerabilities, and insecurities", and Indo-Asian News Service wrote "Priyanka expresses every shade of her character with a pitch-perfect bravado. The actress controls curbs and quantifies every component of her character's personality without losing that basic element of spontaneity." Mary Kom emerged as a major commercial success, with revenues of ₹1.04 billion (US$16 million) at the box-office. Chopra won the Screen Award for Best Actress, the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and received another nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress.
The following year, Chopra starred in Zoya Akhtar's Dil Dhadakne Do, an ensemble comedy-drama alongside Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar. The film tells the story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family (the Mehras), who invite their family and friends on a cruise trip to celebrate the parents' 30th wedding anniversary. She portrayed the role of Ayesha Mehra, a successful entrepreneur and the eldest child. Both the film and her performance attracted positive reviews. Pratim D. Gupta from The Telegraph considered Chopra to be one of the winners of the film and wrote "From the propah body language to the measured speech [...] shows the kind of depth she is able to bring to her lines and characters these days. Rajiv Vijayakar of India-West wrote, "Topping the [ensemble cast] is the nuanced, magnificent work of Priyanka Chopra as Ayesha. Her tiny expressions and nuances, as well as her vocal inflections truly bring her character alive." The cast of Dil Dhadakne Do won the Screen Award for Best Ensemble Cast, and Chopra was nominated for a Screen Award, IIFA Award, and Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress.
Chopra signed a talent holding deal with ABC Studios and was later cast in the American thriller series Quantico as the character Alex Parrish. The series premiered on 27 September 2015 on ABC, making Chopra the first South Asian to headline an American network series. The series received positive reviews from television critics and Chopra was praised for her performance. James Poniewozik of The New York Times described Chopra as the "strongest human asset" of the show, and added that "she is immediately charismatic and commanding." She received the People's Choice Award for "Favourite Actress In A New TV Series" for her role in Quantico, becoming the first South Asian actress to win a People's Choice Award. The following year, Chopra won a second People's Choice Award for "Favorite Dramatic TV Actress".
In the media
Chopra has been described by the critics as one of the most talented actresses in Bollywood. Analysing Chopra's career highlights, Bollywood Hungama noted: "Despite a career that has seen a constant flip-flop [...] the performer in her has seen a constant growth with every passing year." After playing strong characters in a series of films, she gained recognition for her versatility in portraying a range of unconventional roles, leading CNN-IBN to describe her "as one of the most powerful actresses in the current lot and someone who doesn't shy away from experimenting with roles within the realms of popular cinema". The Times of India called her a "game changer" and added that she "made the age-old demarcation between a hero and heroine redundant and one can easily describe her as a Shero". In 2012, film critic Subhash K. Jha labelled her "the best actress in the post-Sridevi generation" and listed her character in Barfi! as being "one of the finest inwardly ravaged characters in Bollywood." Chopra has often featured on Rediff.com's annual listing of "Bollywood's Best Actresses", and was featured in their list of "Top 10 Actresses of 2000–2010".
Chopra is one of the highest-paid and most popular and high-profile celebrities in India. She is described as a sex symbol and a style icon. Her figure, eyes, lips and exotic looks have been cited by the media as her distinctive physical features. Designers Falguni and Shane Peacock wrote, "She is comfortable in her own skin and looks ravishing in whatever she wears, be it a bikini, short or long dress or even a sari." She ranks high on lists of the most beautiful, influential, powerful, and attractive celebrities in the World. In 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2015, the UK magazine Eastern Eye ranked her first on their "World's Sexiest Asian Women" list, and she was featured on Verve's list of most powerful women in 2009 and 2010. She was named "India's Best-Dressed Woman of the Year" by People in 2011, and Maxim selected her thrice (2011, 2013 and 2016) as "Hottest Girl of the Year". In 2012, she was declared the most influential Indian on the social-media circuit in a survey conducted by Pinstorm. In 2015, People featured her as one of the "Most Intriguing People of the Year". In 2016, Time named her one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" and also featured on the cover of the issue. The same year, she was ranked fourth on AskMen's Top 99 Women and Forbes named her the World's eight-highest-paid TV actress. In 2017, Buzznet named her World's second "Most Beautiful Women", only after Beyonce. Chopra was also named one of People magazine's Most Beautiful Women in the World in 2017.