Priyanka Chopra Jonas was obvious choice for global series Citadel

Priyanka Chopra Jonas is cast in Amazon’s Citadel. Photo: Raindrop Media

After a busy week at the United Nations General Assembly, actor, producer and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra Jonas, along with her director Anthony Russo, spoke passionately about her upcoming sci-fi espionage series, Citadel, for Amazon, at a panel discussion on Inside TV’s Best Big Bet at the recently-concluded Fast Company Innovation Festival held in New York.

Dressed in a royal blue Yuzefi pant-suit, the global icon explained what really drew her to this global action franchise that demanded months of her time and led her to learn and speak six languages. “You don’t have to watch the American show to understand, the local language series stands alone,” she said. “But if you watch all the other shows, they’re all connected—and that’s never been done in television. It’s such an interesting experiment, especially for a streamer like Amazon that caters to audiences across the world. To be able to offer a show that cross-pollinates audiences and languages is just so exciting to me. So it was innovative, and that’s what I loved about it,” said the actor, who is already looking forward to the local spinoffs that will be made for the Indian, Italian, Spanish and Mexican markets.

Priyanka, who is the first Indian actor to have a first-look TV deal with Amazon Studios, was an obvious choice to headline the show for Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke and director Russo. “When Jennifer brought up Priyanka, it was like a light bulb went off,” Russo said. “It was so intelligent and so smart, because Priyanka represents the essence of what we’re trying to do with the show. The fact is that she’s done such amazing work in India and internationally. She has this sort of dual identity—a foot in both worlds.”

Set in the near future, the storyline centers on a global spy organization called Citadel that Russo describes. Chopra Jonas plays one of the top agents at Citadel, alongside Richard Madden of the Game of Thrones fame. “This agency ends up coming in conflict with a new rival agency that has been developed by the world’s elite to sort of protect their self-interests,” added Russo. “So it’s a global struggle between these two competing points of view about what humanity should be.”

Priyanka made her screen debut with Thamizhan, a Tamil film that released in 2002. The Miss World 2000 signed her first Hindi film with producer-director K.C. Bokadia in 2002. The hero was Govinda. After inordinate delays and changes in the script from a romantic comedy to a thriller (!), the film released in 2013 (!!) as Deewana Main Deewana and did not go anywhere, though the senior producer especially thanked Priyanka for her co-operation, as by that time Govinda was no longer a top hero!

Priyanka’s first Hindi release was The Hero—Love Story of a Spy opposite Sunny Deol, a full decade before that in 2003! Her first hit was Andaaz in 2003 itself opposite Akshay Kumar with Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000, being introduced. Both the actresses have since turned producers as well. But Priyanka’s success, both in Hindi cinema and later as a (non-film) singer in singles and American film, web and TV actress, has been in a totally different league.

Her Indian cuisine restaurant, Sona (her husband Nick suggested the name) is now part of the esteemed Michelin Guide. The most revered food guide of the world, the Michelin, has just added Sona on its New York Guide list.

Recently, in Variety’s one-hour special, Power of Women: The Changemakers, which premiered on September 22, Priyanka (for UNICEF) also made an appearance, alongside names like Halle Berry, Misty Copeland, Laverne Cox, Idina Menzel, Julianne Moore and Katy Perry (Firework Foundation).

Priyanka has kept herself quite busy. Besdies a tight acting schedule, she also has a homeware brand, ‘Sona Homes’, and a hair care line ‘Anomaly Haircare’ that was launched in India only last month. She is set to make her Hindi comeback with Farhan Akhtar’s Jee Le Zara next year: Farhan was her leading man in her maiden Hindi production, The Sky is Pink in 2019.

The Sky is Pink is also the latest in her large power-packed performances list in India that includes scene-stealing acts in Aitraaz, Barfi!, Dil Dhadakne Do, Bajirao Mastani with other actresses, and Fashion, Kaminey, Agneepath besides Mary Kom in solo female leads.




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