Priyanka Chopra only turned producer last year, and one of her films has already won multiple National Awards. Her Marathi production, the Rajesh Mapuskar-directed Ventilator, won three awards at the 64th National Film Awards — in the Best Director, Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories,Hindustan Times reports. Understandably, the actor-producer is elated. In an interview with HT, Priyanka talks about how she intends to make “bigger and better films” in the future, awards, and her Marathi film.
What was your first reaction when Ventilator won the awards?
It was similar to what I experienced when I won my first National Award [as an actor] for Fashion (2008). I remember at that time that I was shooting for Anjaana Anjaani (2010) in New York, and early in the morning, I was woken up with the news that I was getting the award. This time as well, my mother woke me up at five in the morning to break the news that we won three National Awards. It feels great, since it’s my first Marathi film as a producer and one of the first films that I have produced.
Of course! I work very hard to do everything I’m doing. My life is split between two continents. So, I am working in the US, and I’m also producing six films in India this year. I am trying to balance my time between both countries, and I don’t want to settle on one in particular. For me, either isn’t more important than the other. Both are facets of my journey as an actor, and, more than anything, as an entertainer. So, I am a very proud person. Honestly, I have given up my life for my work (smiles). It gives me immense joy to have the achievements that I’ve earned. This is also a great validation for me. I hope I make bigger and better films.
I was always very clear that my films will be made with art and creativity in mind and would have great storytelling. I was talking to Rajesh sir, who made his Marathi debut with Ventilator, about the wins, and we got so emotional. I remember when he first met me, he had said that it was difficult for him to get a producer. There were so many actors in the film; we had 75 actors with dialogues in it.
When I heard the story, I immediately knew that I wanted to make this film for my father. When my dad (the late Ashok Chopra) was ill, this is exactly what had happened, with the entire family around him. I went through that experience. So, I am very emotional, because this movie was for my dad. Rajesh sir made it so beautifully for me. I am also proud of my production team — led by my mother, who is my backbone; the entire crew, and all my incredible film actors — as it was a very difficult film to make. I am completely overwhelmed.
Does it feel different when you win a National Award as a producer than as an actor?
Yes, it’s a completely different feeling, because it was my first attempt at being a producer. And as a producer, to be validated for something that I must be doing right — that maine acchi film, accha director aur acchi kahaani choose ki hai (that I’ve chosen a good film, a good director and a good story) — feels awesome.
Talking of awards, since you’ve been to many global awards ceremonies of late, what do you think of the awards scene in India?
The way I see it, I shouldn’t be comparing any two awards. We saw what happened at the Oscars, so things happen (laughs). I have never taken awards seriously. I always see them as an encouragement for one’s work, but they don’t define you. Whether it’s an award in India, America or anywhere else, it can’t be your definition as a talent and an actor. You have to keep working hard, and how people respond to your film is eventually what matters. I have always believed in that. At the same time, it’s nice to win awards and be acknowledged for your work. But you can’t make that [winning awards] your life.
Will the multiple wins at the National Awards push you to keep backing your instincts?
If you look at the kind of films I am producing, I have always done that. They are different and aren’t conventional. When I founded my company, I was very clear that I wanted to work with and give opportunities to new talent. That didn’t happen to me when I started out in the industry. So, I intend to keep doing that and give opportunities to new film-makers. Although it’s difficult to make small movies on shoe-string budgets, it’s important for me to give space to film-makers in India, who have incredible talent. There is so much talent in India, but there’s a lack of opportunities. I want to provide that [opportunities] with my company.