All hype & no work for Priyanka in the West?

Karishma Upadhyay
Priyanka Chopra, who has gone where no Indian actress has done before in the West, is always in the news, yet none of it has anything to do with actual work

It's been a little less than a year that Quantico ended, and Priyanka Chopra's 'on-screen' presence has been scant €" apart from a supporting role in the Netflix film, Isn't It Romantic?. For her fans back home, the absence is more pronounced given that her last Hindi release, Jai Gangaajal, was over three years ago, and her next, The Sky Is Pink, is not really mainstream fare.

Yet, Chopra is just always in the news.

In just the last fortnight, American publications have written about 'her favourite cuddle position with Nick Jonas', their baby plans, and about Chopra 'pulling off a wedding fashion moment at Cannes'.

It wasn't just her hyper-visible love life. She crossed 40 million followers on Instagram. She 'spilled the beans' on Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner's impromptu Vegas wedding. Her Met Gala appearance set the internet on fire with memes, and even landed a man in jail in West Bengal.

It just goes on, and none of it has anything to do with actual work.

For those who follow Hollywood, it isn't surprising. Many A-listers average one release in two to three years but the paparazzi keeps them in the news with fluff stories ranging from an actor's dog falling sick to weekend pictures from the Maldives.

In the world of pop culture, there are celebrities who 'do press' and those that don't. Priyanka Chopra Jonas absolutely does. Her PR machinery is always at work, and what you see is a carefully-crafted image-building exercise.

There's no doubt that Chopra has gone where no Indian actress has before. Parveen Babi ventured westward in the seventies and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan gave it a shot in the 2000s. Mallika Sherawat even moved to Los Angeles. Only Chopra managed to get a foot in Hollywood's gilded door. Her fairytale wedding last December helped raise her profile, getting her on Vogue and People magazine covers.

She is, however, yet to unleash the power of her onscreen presence in the West. The noise generated around everything she has done so far in the West just does not mirror in the overall quality of her work. She first dipped her toes in international waters with three very mediocre singles that are mostly remembered for featuring established names like will.i.am and Pitbull. Quantico signalled her American acting debut but it lasted for just three seasons. Baywatch, her Hollywood launch, underperformed.

All PR and no work doesn't a career make, Chopra must be wary. Right now, she has a comedy with Mindy Kaling and a courtroom drama directed by Baywatch maker Seth Gordon lined up. She must hope these projects will help her make news for her abilities as an artist.

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