Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, best known to American audiences for starring on TV series Quantico, stars in the new Bollywood epic Bajirao Mastani.

Priyanka Chopra On ‘Bajirao Mastani’

Bajirao Mastani, a Hindi-language film, tells the story of 18th century warrior king Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) and his love triangle involving his first wife Kashibai (Chopra) and his second wife Mastani (Deepika Padukone).

“Bajirao and Mastani’s love story is the forbidden love story that happened because they were both from different religions, and of course, she was the second wife, so there’s a lot of opposition from Bajirao’s family and his kingdom,” Chopra explained in an exclusive video interview with uInterview. “But, love prevails and it’s a forbidden love story in history, but what happened to her, his first wife?”

Chopra has high praise for writer and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who decided to not only explore the relationship between Bajirao and Mastani, but to also explore what happens to first wife Kashibai when her husband’s love for another woman threatens her place.

“Nobody ever talks about that, and I love the fact that my director, Sanjay, he made her character pivotal enough, because it probably would have been [pivotal] if you think about it,” said Chopra. “If a guy decides he wants another woman while he has another wife, I guess there would be a pivotal story to tell there.”

Playing Kashibai in Bajirao Mastani, which took 300 days to shoot, was a stretch for Chopra, as she had to take on the persona of a woman far different from her in far different times with far stricter gender roles.

“I had a dialect which is 500 years old, I had to dress like I’ve never dressed before. It took me four hours to dress up everyday, and when I used to walk into set it was like I left this century,” said Chopra, revealing the most difficult aspect of making the film. “To be a modern day feminist woman and to be playing a character who I guess didn’t have much of a voice at that time, and yet showed dignity and grace and a fire; I think that was most challenging for me.”

Chopra, who plays an FBI recruit on ABC’s Quantico, didn’t find the transition from Bollywood to Hollywood that difficult, and was happy to find that she – and the show that’s been her vehicle – have been so well received throughout the industry in the U.S.

“I’m enjoying it supremely, I’m so happy I’ve got such an exceptionally warm welcome from America,” Chopra said. “It’s been great, not just people who watch the show but the press, the media, everyone. It’s amazing to feel so welcomed.”

Finding such success in acting – let alone in Hollywood – wasn’t exactly something that Chopra had aspired to as a young girl.

“I didn’t even know I could be an actor, I didn’t know that was a profession you could actually be. I was a good Indian girl, always first in class, honor roll, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and go to NASA, make planes, big dreams,” Chopra revealed. “And then my mom decided I was really pretty and sent my picture to Miss India.”

Chopra went on to win Miss India. Then she won Miss World. Shortly thereafter, movie producers were knocking on her door, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“Whatever I am today is just out of the experience of having the opportunity of doing it,” she told uInterview. “I am, and I always say this and I love it; I’m the other Destiny’s Child besides Beyonce, destiny likes me.”

Bajirao Mastani is currently in theaters.


Q: Where is your character at the start of the film? -

So, this is a film called Bajirao Mastani, and it releases on the 18th of December. It’s a Hindi-speaking film, mainly language film, and what is really exciting for me is that it’s a part of history. Bajirao was a warrior king in the 1700s and an extremely renowned, well-known, never lost a war, extremely brave warrior. But, this is his love story. I play his first wife and Deepika, who is my co-actor, plays his second wife Mastani. Bajirao and Mastani’s love story is the forbidden love story that happened because they were both from different religions, and of course, she was the second wife, so there’s a lot of opposition from Bajirao’s family and his kingdom. But, love prevails and it’s a forbidden love story in history, but what happened to her, his first wife? Nobody ever talks about that, and I love the fact that my director, Sanjay, he made her character pivotal enough because it probably would have been if you think about it. If a guy decides he wants another woman while he has another wife, I guess there would be pivotal story to tell there, and that’s what this story is about. His interpretation of what the history books don’t tell us.

Q: What was the most challenging scene for you? -

It almost took 300 days to shoot this movie because it’s an epic, a huge movie, of course like extremely expensive. But also, our director is a stickler for details, so he used to take like one shot a day sometimes, because there were massive shots with like 500 horses and a thousand people and everything was epic. I think just the experience of time traveling was amazing for me. I had a dialect which is 500 years old, I had to dress like I’ve never dressed before. It took me four hours to dress up everyday, and when I used to walk into set it was like I left this century, and that was most challenging. To be a modern day feminist woman and to be playing a character who I guess didn’t have much of a voice at that time, and yet showed dignity and grace and a fire; I think that was most challenging for me.

Q: What is the difference between Hollywood and Bollywood? -

Well, to me, Bollywood and Hollywood wasn’t as different, because I think it’s just the language that’s different. People speak English here – actually French, because we’re shooting in Quebec – but we speak maybe Hindi and English on set in India. But, filmmaking is the same around the world, you know you have a first lady, you have a director standing outside your trailer screaming for actors to come out, you have to know your lines, you have to stand on your mark, there’s a cameraman, everything is the same. The language of filmmaking is the same, what was different for me was features versus TV. Features, that’s what I’ve done all my life, are very languid; we take time to shoot a scene, you do one scene in two days whereas with TV you do like nine scenes in one day and nobody gave me that memo. But, I’m enjoying it supremely, I’m so happy I’ve got such an exceptionally warm welcome from America. It’s been great, not just people who watch the show but the press, the media, everyone. It’s amazing to feel so welcomed.

Q: How did you first get into acting? -

Well I didn’t even know I could be an actor, I didn’t know that was a profession you could actually be. I was a good Indian girl, always first in class, honor roll, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and go to NASA, make planes, big dreams. And then my mom decided I was really pretty and sent my picture to Miss India without telling me because it was the millennium year, and I happened to win it. Then they sent me to Miss World and I won that, and the movie producers decided that it would be great to have a Miss World in their movie, cast me in a few of them. My first movie went bananas and then I just never looked back. I learned on the job, I taught myself what acting was. I didn’t have acting school, I didn’t have a godfather, you know. I failed, made mistakes, learned on the job. Whatever I am today is just out of the experience of having the opportunity of doing it. I am, and I always say this and I love it; I’m the other Destiny’s Child besides Beyonce, destiny likes me.