Actress Priyanka Chopra – a successful Bollywood phenom, wife of teen dream Nick Jonas, and bestie of American royalty in Meghan, Duchess of Sussex – is no stranger to the spotlight. But on Saturday, the 37-year-old “Quantico” star found herself in an unfamiliar position: the hot seat.
During an appearance in Los Angeles at Beautycon, the trendy industry convention, a “fan” with a microphone asked Chopra not about her morning beauty routine but her seemingly conflicting politics.
“So it was kind of hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbor, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite,” said Ayesha Malik in a video of the incident posted to her own Twitter page.
Malik then referred to a February tweet posted by Chopra, in which the actress wrote “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces” during escalating military hostility between the neighboring, nuclear-armed countries. (“Jai Hind” loosely translates to “Hail India” or “Long Live India.”) At the time, Chopra was criticized for so publicly cheering Indian airstrikes in Pakistani territory – strikes that led to retaliatory Pakistani airstrikes, bringing the countries to the brink of war. India launched the strikes after an attack claimed by a Pakistan-based terrorist group killed nearly 40 soldiers in Kashmir.
“You are a UNICEF ambassador for peace, and you’re encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan. There’s no winner in this,” Malik said to Chopra, who has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2016.
“As a Pakistani, millions of people like me have supported you in your business of Bollywood and you wanted nuclear war,” Malik added. The microphone was taken away before Malik, a hair blogger who has more than 100,000 followers on both Instagram and YouTube, could continue.
Chopra, who was taking questions from the main stage after being interviewed by Beautycon Media Chief Executive Moj Mahdara, was quick to defend herself. She replied coolly at first: “Whenever you’re done venting . . . got it, done? OK, cool.”
The actress then launched into her response.
“So, I have many, many friends from Pakistan, and I am from India, and war is not something that I am really fond of, but I am patriotic. So, I’m sorry if I hurt sentiments to people who do love me and have loved me, but I think that all of us have a sort of middle ground that we all have to walk, just like you probably do, as well.”
Chopra then chided Malik for coming at her at Beautycon. “Girl, don’t yell,” Chopra said. “We’re all here for love. Don’t yell. Don’t embarrass yourself. But we all walk that middle ground, but thank you for your enthusiasm and your question and your voice.”
Since the viral exchange, Malik has had more to say, criticizing Chopra (who has not commented publicly since) for not having a better response to her concerns.
“She gaslit me and turned the narrative around on me being the ‘bad guy’ – as a UN ambassador this was so irresponsible,” Malik tweeted.