Priyanka Chopra and her Met Gala dress: No, this was not fashion ka jalwa. To me, it showed a worried desi girl
Once upon a time, Priyanka Chopra showed India the power of confident reinvention. Why isn't she moving her game up now?
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Pyaari Priyanka, we know that you love to be at the forefront of every newsbreak and you have been breaking quite a few glass ceilings of your own. How far you have come — from the slightly gangly, not-so-confident types who end up confidently winning huge beauty contests and then landing straight into the glossy perfection of Bollywood. You did mind playing second fiddle always. You were the real Bareilly ki ladki, weren’t you, with all her hesitations, and her inner strength?
And how you have grown! Landing that big gig in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, then Don, then Barfi et al — and you showed you could act. We did love you for that as we love all outsiders who make it big in the lineage-and-connection-dominated film industry.
You showed off your brains in a way that was not life-threatening like a Kajol’s iciness — I read books, I am not an idiot like you are! No, you never needed to shout. Or even conspicuously carry books about. You had pizzazz and grit and it showed in your movies — Fashion, Bajirao Mastani, Mary Kom, Aitraaz — the hussy, the gold digger, the champion, the rejected lover, the super-model, the queen, you outplayed them all. What utter class!
You had pizzazz and grit and a lot of it showed in your movies. (Photo: YouTube screengrab. Collage: DailyO)
However, the fizz doesn’t seem to have lasted. Your misses have been as many, if not more, than the big hits. What was that Rashee thing which had you play 12 versions — each worse than the other? Suddenly, it seemed Bollywood was more boulders than bouquets and you, the confident, I'll-handle-it-whatever-it-is girl, started to appear a bit lost.
Something was biting at you by then — luckily, Hollywood seemed the place where it would all both drop off and materialise to drive your new ambitions.
Enter Alex Parrish — even with the north Indian accent though, Quantico did make you famous in 'abraaad', as we say in India.
What you did discover then was the power of social media too — and what a terrific networker you turned out to be. Tasteful photos released smartly, clearly saying, “No, I am no bimbo. I am the modern, new Indian woman, confident of herself and her place in the world.”
Back home, your catty competitors went to town, saying you had hit your 30s and there weren’t any juicy desi girl-type roles to be had, so Hollywood was the only logical step. There was this lull which had frustrated you. Younger, smarter, hungrier women were proving their mettle. Your spot seemed up for grabs.
What suddenly changed?
Was it those liquid, limpid photos by a certain Mr Bryan that brought you back into the sexy and smart list? You did look ravishing but that shallow list of singles took you. (Okay, kudos for getting Pitbull to sing ‘Chalo chalo’ though!)
Is that where the viscious trolling started? (Photo: Reuters)
You bravely broke away from Bollywood completely — and then found yourself in the same city as a certain Royal Duchess. That friendship was great but, in my humble opinion, you could have done better with the outfit at the wedding. That is when the vicious trolling started — those shoes, the stretched button on the jacket, the hat doing nothing for you. But you were in the company of the Clooneys, no less.
In Hindustani terms, you had arrived.
Then you met Mr Nick — and you understood the power of your own brand! 'What a catch', the world screamed — and you made that sexy pout again, whispering smilingly, 'Ain’t I worth it!'
From then on, you were never off Instagram ever — not with that train of tulle that could have clothed an entire village, the straight-out-of-a-Rajasthan-Tourism-brochure nuptials with the richest Indian daughter as your best mate. Having a relative from GoT wasn’t so bad either. Look, we are all global, famous people, ok!
But here's a cheeky question — are you really that famous? Overseas, I mean?
Is this fashion ka jalwa? Seriously? (Photo: Reuters)
Getting to the Met Gala the first time around was your NY recognition and you met Nick. No one has ever made it that far from desi turf.
Why are you then trailing in the wake of other celebrities now? Don't mind but you're still nowhere close to being anything like the Kardashians who apparently charge a million for one tweet. No, you are not in that league yet and time is running out. And perhaps it is your worry on that count that shows in what went as this year's Met Gala dress. A strange worry, a palpable anxiety that struck me, especially when you put that silver bindi atop a mess of hair and your husband carried the dupatta, dressed like Jeetendra. You may think like a Queen but this, in my view, was not even close to the Rami Malek rendition. (Which was near perfect, by the way).
It is getting worrying — this negative trend of being caught artlessly in the spotlight like a deer, unable to run, rooted to the spot, seeming unable to truly reinvent.
Girl, get your mojo back or you will be one of the most trolled Indians abroad. Why do you waver? Is it because, in truth, unlike everyone else who has populated Bollywood, somewhere the Bareilly ki ladki knows how flawed and transient celebrity really is?