Dhaka, 25 Dec, Abnews: Priyanka Chopra addresses us with a sore throat and a very healthy sense of humour. “I usually don’t sound so sexy. Aaj meri awaaz thodi nasaaz hai (My voice is a little bad today),” says the actor-producer, gracefully accepting the congratulations for the double accolade she has got — an honorary doctorate degree and being the only woman among the top 10 celebrities in the Forbes Indian Celebrity 100 list.
With palpable excitement in her voice, she shook a leg and interacted with youngsters at UNICEF, at a recent event organised in Delhi, before heading for Bareilly, to receive the degree. (It was, however, reported on Christmas morning that Priyanka’s Bareilly trip was in jeopardy, as foggy weather caused a long flight delay. Priyanka tweeted that she was “heartbroken” that she’d miss the ceremony. Her tweet said that she had been looking forward to the trip not just to receive the degree but also to meet friends and family, and “just reconnect with a city that has been such an important part of my life”.)
Talking about the doctorate degree being presented to her by Bareilly International University, Priyanka tells us, “Mom aaj bahut khush hongi, and I think my dad only made it happen! Because it was their life’s dream for me to become a doctor. And then I didn’t.” The 35-year-old actor, who lost her father in 2013, adds, “My dad would have been most excited [today].”
Priyanka, who was crowned Miss World in 2000 at the age of 17, has often rued that she couldn’t pursue higher studies. “I never wanted to be a doctor, anyway! I had blood phobia, and would faint [at the sight of blood]. I like numbers, and physics, and wanted to be an engineer more than anything,” she says. “I’ve been offered honorary doctorates before, a couple of times. But, this was [from] the Bareilly International University. [Bareilly] is my hometown, it’s [where] my roots [are]. That’s what’s more special... There was no way I couldn’t have been a part of it. My mom and brother are coming [for the ceremony in Bareilly], and it’s gonna be a whole family affair.” (Though this didn’t happen later, as fog played spoilsport.)
So, has her love for numbers made her the woman at the top, along with actors Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, who are the first two on the list, respectively? “Being the only woman [there], that’s bittersweet for me. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve had the achievements I’ve had, which puts me in that position, and I [have] that power, on par with a lot of my male colleagues. I work really hard. I don’t take chhuttis or vacations or [off on] New Years. Since I’ve come to India, I’ve only been working. And I’m rewarded for it. I also live my life in two countries,” says the actor, who has a full-fledged Hollywood career now, with the hit TV show, Quantico, and a blockbuster film, Baywatch, to her name. “It’s really difficult. But, at the same time, it makes me feel like... look at the disparity! You know the disparity that we keep talking about, it’s still there,” she adds.
We ask how she feels about charging a couple of crores for a performance at an award function — a news that made headlines early this July. And Priyanka exclaims, “Oh my God! If I’m made to feel guilty about it, then what will happen to those boys [male actors]? The boys who for seconds take crores. I don’t pay attention to such... what’s that word... Good riddance to bad rubbish. My work matters, my achievements matter, and I don’t let anyone pull me down.” – Hindustan Times