Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Bollywood and Bringing Bumble to India

With her ongoing takeover of Hollywood and Bollywood and regular jet–setting between homes in Mumbai, L.A. and New York, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is redefining what it means to be a global star. We caught up with her at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of The Sky Is Pink to talk about getting back to Bollywood, changing perceptions of women in the film industry and keeping tabs on her international wardrobe.

enRoute It’s been three years since you starred in a Bollywood film. How did you decide that The Sky Is Pink, a true story about the family of teenage author Aisha Chaudhary, was a project you wanted to take on?

Priyanka Chopra Jonas I never wanted to do only Hindi movies. I don’t think working in Hollywood and Bollywood has to be mutually exclusive, so it was never an either/or choice for me. It was just that shooting [the TV series] Quantico took about 11 months out of the year. I was able to squeeze in Isn’t It Romantic, Baywatch and part of Bajirao Mastani while filming the show, but it was hard to do a full–fledged feature. So, when Quantico was over, I really wanted to do a film in Hindi. My manager told me there was something about The Sky Is Pink; she knew I’d connect with it. I read the script and immediately called her to say I wanted to meet the director.

ER What was it about the script that drew you in?

PCJ There’s something so universal about this movie, and about loss in general – that’s what I loved about it. My dad passed away several years ago. He was a big personality. We couldn’t mourn his death – he would have hated that – so we celebrated his life. We hired his favourite band and ate food that he loved. With The Sky Is Pink, I was fascinated by how the director dealt with death. It wasn’t just another movie for me. And that’s why I decided to come on as a producer as well. I believe in the film.

ER How is your production company, Purple Pebble Pictures, involved with it?

PCJ I’ve done about nine regional productions with Purple Pebble Pictures, but never acted in any of them before this one because I wanted my company to stand on its own. When I found this movie, I told the producer that I believed in it so much, I wanted to contribute to its production. I knew I’d be able to help push it as much as possible. Purple Pebble Pictures attaches itself to films that stand for something. That doesn’t mean that every film has to have a moral or a social responsibility aspect, but the storytelling has to stand for something.

December 2, 2019
A collage of four Priyanka Chopra Jonas portraits with a deep blue backdrop

ER You frequently travel between Mumbai, New York and L.A. How do you make each place feel like home?

PCJ I have lots of photos in my houses. I feel like I can pick up a suitcase, go anywhere, settle in and find the resources to make it home. The hard part is that I can never find my shoes. Suppose I want to wear my red boots while I’m in New York? Where are those boots? Great, they’re in L.A. or Mumbai. So, wardrobe issues are the biggest downside.

ER Why did you decide to bring Bumble to India?

PCJ I invested in Bumble because I was fascinated by the app as a model. I think it’s amazing that it’s a female–driven company. Its founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, co–founded Tinder first and then thought, “You know what? Girls need to swipe right. They need to get the first option.” Giving women the opportunity to make the first move is so empowering. And taking it to India was amazing. We had to incorporate some cultural adjustments in the app – for example, you can only use your first initial and verified photos. We’re doing our best to ensure users stay safe.

ER What barriers still exist for women in the film industry?

PCJ For the first time, opportunities are being created for women everywhere, not just in film – in entertainment, in business, in technical vocations. Women have a voice now, but we still have to get to the point where we become genderless in terms of how we speak about women in any profession. We don’t question someone saying, “Oh, an athlete, a journalist,” referring to a man. But we specify when we’re talking about “a female athlete” or “a female journalist.” That just shows the subliminal messaging created by society, which you and I, though we might consider ourselves progressive, might not even think about. There’s a lot that still needs to be done. As a woman, I want to be a conduit for other women to succeed. I want to be the shoulders they stand on. Women do that for each other.