Monday, August 23, 2010

Loneliness is killing: Priyanka Chopra

Last month, Priyanka Chopra turned 28 and was gifted a seven-carat solitaire diamond ring by her parents. And every time the ring is mentioned, she breaks into a million dollar smile.

When she was given the ring, she says, she shed a gazillion tears. “I’m really proud of it. But my mom says that she’s set a benchmark for the guy who will marry me! I was going away on my birthday for a holiday and I wasn’t going to be with them. So my dad wrote me this amazing letter. It said, ‘It’s really great to be known as my daughter’s father.’ That made me cry,” she says. But ask her when she plans to replace this ring with an engagement band, and prompt comes the reply, “When the guy who is willing to gift me a ring like this crashes into me!”

But till the time Mr Right is still on his way, Priyanka is keeping busy with work – endorsements, films and goodwill initiatives. The tech savvy lass recently launched her website and is super-kicked about it. A few days ago, Priyanka became the UNICEF national ambassador. She says, “I just feel that I can do so much, in fact, everyone can do so much. It’s not just about me. You can do so much sitting in your house. And frankly, it doesn’t take so much time. If we can take time out for things that are productive for us, for instance, I take out time for my endorsements, shoots, my career; then I can take time out for something I feel so strongly about. And I’ve been working with UNICEF for the last four years. It’s just that we have made it official now.”

Priyanka adds, “I have also been working with senior-citizen causes, green causes, with thalassemic children, etc. I educate about 28 girls. I have a foundation, which I haven’t officially spoken about yet. It’s called the Priyanka Chopra Foundation which is into health and education. It’s been on for years now. People write to me saying their kids need surgery, or their kids can’t go to school, and my team authenticates it and then we help them. We don’t really talk about it. But now that I’m the UNICEF national ambassador, I feel that my voice has been given a channel where I can talk about making a difference. And I’m saying it only because I’ve seen the difference.”

The passion to do something for others goes back to PC’s childhood. She tells us, “When we were kids, my parents had a hospital, and they’d always hold camps. I’d be responsible for the pharmacy. My job was to look at prescriptions and count all the pills and put them into little packets. I would feel very important when we’d do these free medical drives. We still do it. I’ve been brought up in a family where we believe in giving back to society.”

However, there is a certain amount of cynicism to be expected when a pretty face, especially from Bollywood, gets associated with a cause, right? “Not just because I am a celebrity, but we as Indians are cynical. It’s just a part of us. Especially with the youth. You and I would be a lot more cynical than our parents. And our younger brothers and sisters would be cockier about it. That’s how the generations are working because what we have been promised, has not been delivered. But, we, the youth of today, can make a difference. The young politicos are moving India.

The cynicism will always be a part of us, but you’ll also always see people who are actually making a change. That’s something we have to fight for, and I am doing that. I have been with UNICEF to so many places and we heard people say things like, ‘ladki shaadi karke kissi aur ke ghar bhejna hai toh kya zaroorat hai paisa daalne ki.’ But there’s satisfaction in knowing that you can help the girl child get educated, if you are
convincing enough.”

But, as a girl herself, has she ever felt that she has had to struggle to create a place for herself in a man’s world? “It is a man’s world,” she replies, “And in the context of my TV show, “Khatron Ke Khiladi” – where I’ll be the only girl among 13 male contestants – I’m not going there with a bra-burning feminist idea that I’m going to carve a place for myself. It’s nothing like that. I am a sporty and adventurous girl. The show is up my alley... We only shot for 20 days. I love the American version of the show.

Real people facing their fears is highly entertaining. How does the person do that? “If I had been in his place, I’d run.” Priyanka also mentions that if given a choice, her “Anjaana Anjaani” co-star Ranbir Kapoor is someone she’d love to have on the show. “He’s scared of everything. I think Ranbir would make for excellent television,” she laughs.

With so much keeping her busy, one is reminded when in 2005, Priyanka had said that “loneliness is killing”. But today, she says, “I’m never lonely. I am always around people who love me – my team, my family and my friends. They are all awesome. I’ve not reached a stage where I go home alone, or am sitting alone by myself thinking I have no one to talk to. I’m a very friendly person. I love life and I have a zest for experiencing everything in life. I love my job. There’s no way I’ll change it,” she signs off.


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