Ruchi Mukherjee

The Priyanka Chopra Effect On Houston

by4enaycmaarqk1Houston has a love affair with all things Indian. From “Little India” on Hillcroft, to Bollywood dance performances during the Rockets half-time show, to a slew of new Indian restaurants, the Bayou City is alive with Indian culture.

Bollywood in particular is something Houstonians love, and with the fantastic dance sequences, complex story lines and stunning heroes and heroines, how could they not? A number of theaters in Houston cater to Indian premiere movies. Indian Bollywood stars are no strangers to the city and often make a stop in Houston where they are met by throngs of adorning fans.
One of India’s most favorite stars, Priyanka Chopra, is now seen as the lead on ABC’s newest action packed drama series, Quantico. She has made a seamless transition from Bollywood to Hollywood and is gracing TV screens all across the nation. Priyanka Chopra is no stranger to the western world. This former Miss World 2000 has not only appeared in numerous Bollywood films, she is a singer who appeared with American rapper Pitbull’s single Exotic.
However she is still anonymous to westerners. Many of them, including Indians born in the United States are unaware of her.
Ironically while Ms Chopra is striving hard to be recognized in western media, it pains for me to say this that I had absolutely no luck in interviewing my fellow Indian actress. While she is charming the west with her exotic looks I should have approached her PR company with a last name such as Smith or John or clearly western media name brand.
I am no new comer to media, having worked as a lifestyle correspondent for Times of India, Statesman, Indian Express, India Abroad, TV Asia, Culturemap for over 15 years. With interviews under my belt with actors like George Clooney, Eva Longoria, Tilda Swinton, or Sarah Jessica Parker and running a successful media house in the United States, I have always felt it to be challenging when it comes to interviewing our very own fellow Indian ‘stars’ in the US. Moving on…
Scrolling through several twitter feeds and other social media outlets it is quite apparent that Ms Chopra got a very warm welcome from her Indian American fans. No doubt her Indian followers living in the United States are so proud of her achievements and showered her with best wishes. She is the first Indian actress that has been cast in a lead role in an American series in the Unites States.
Priyanka Chopra Quantico

Priyanka Chopra on the poster of ‘Quantico’

“We are so excited and happy for her and its truly an achievement to see familiar Indian faces on mainstream TV which I did not see happening while growing up,” says Pooja Lodhia. “My mom is planning a big party Sunday evening with all my other aunties to celebrate Priyanka’s debut in Quantico,” she adds. While some are quite disappointed about her transition from a big screen artist to a television star.

Speaking to our very own President of University of Houston Dr. Renu Khator at a recent gala where we were seated together about Priyanka Chopra’s debut in the new ABC series, she said that it was very exciting and as she does not have much time to watch television the only reason she makes the time is for the Indian actress. “Very happy for her and I think its wonderful for her to achieve her goals. Not so much hooked to the show but i will give it some more time”, says Dr. Khator. “I know how tough it is being a woman and Indian to break these glass ceilings. Wishing her all the very best”, she added.
The craze for Bollywood and exotic things is growing in Houston. “I think people are bored with bland, they want something exiting, spicy and different,” says Geoffrey Roth, Managing Editor at FOX 26.
Meanwhile Priyanka Chopra’s manager, Anjula Acharia Bath, is herself an outstanding success story. She made an incredible mark in the mainstream entertainment industry and was recently named on Billboard’s 2014 ‘International Power Players’ List.
In 2007 Anjula co-founded (media company) Desi Hits!, which helped drive diversity into global pop culture, she introduced artists like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears to emerging global markets. “I met Priyanka Chopra maybe four years back, so talented, very hard working with a generous heart. Deep down she is a middle class girl who grew up in Queens, India, just another girl with big dreams. Priyanka is a rockstar,” shares Anjula.

Personally as an entrepreneur and journalist in the US, I find many things common with this actress. Well the first one would be that she and I went to La Martiniere For Girls in Lucknow. Secondly, we both have our love affair with Jimmy Choo and Ferragamo but most importantly as a woman trying to make an impact in a new country showcasing what we have to offer. I have been able to bring my own company LCA Houston into the mainstream spotlight with our efforts to bridge the ethnic to the mainstream, however I would never treat my own fellow Indians as second class.

On that note, I wish the talented Priyanka Chopra all the very best and hope to see her in many more exciting projects but most certainly in Bollywood films.

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