When Priyanka Chopra turned her Bollywood stardom into a series of high profile Hollywood roles including “The Matrix Resurrections” and Netflix’s “Citadel,” she became one of the biggest international stars in the world. But while her success is certainly a testament to her talent and the current moment that Indian cinema is having around the world, the actress has always been open about the dark side of Bollywood acting that ultimately prompted her to seek opportunities elsewhere. As she tells it, her decision to stop making movies in India was prompted by unfair pay and unpleasant conditions as much as bigger opportunities in America.
In a new interview with The Zoe Report, Chopra recalled a particularly upsetting experience on an early film role that opened her eyes to some of the harsh realities about how the industry treats women.
“This may have been 2002 or 2003” Chopra said. “I’m undercover, I’m seducing the guy – obviously that’s what girls do when they’re undercover. But I’m seducing the guy and you have to take off one piece of clothing [at a time]… I wanted to layer up [but] the filmmaker was like, ‘No, I need to see her underwear. Otherwise why is anybody coming to watch this movie?’”
Chopra went on to explain that the experience was particularly jarring because the director didn’t even include her in the conversation about what she was doing on screen. He simply said it out loud to a crew member as if she wasn’t even there.
“He didn’t say it to me,” Chopra added. “He said it to the stylist in front of me. It was such a dehumanising moment. It was a feeling of, ‘I’m nothing else outside of how I can be used, my art is not important, what I contribute is not important.’”
The incident prompted Chopra to exit the project after just two days of shooting rather than continue to work with the director. She reimbursed the production for all of the money it had spent on her in order to make a clean break.
“I just couldn’t look at [the director] every day,” she said.