At a time when women in showbiz are opening up about facing sexual abuse, actress Priyanka Chopra, counted among India’s top earning film celebrities, says she has faced “abuse of power” in her professional life.
The National Award winner spoke here on Tuesday during a question and answer session with an anchor, after she delivered the Penguin Annual Lecture on “Breaking The Glass Ceiling: Chasing a dream” at the 11th edition of the event.
“I am very fierce. People are a little bit scared of me. When I walk into a room, I make sure that no one can... Yes, I have had situations when I have been thrown out of films because someone else was recommended... A girlfriend was recommended after I was signed for a movie. So, that’s an abuse of power... Girlfriend of the hero or girlfriend of the director.
“I couldn’t do anything about it. I was removed last minute from many such situations because I never catered to the whims and fancies of powerful men. I only cater to my colleagues and friends who give me respect.
“I was treated in a different way because I commanded that, and it was because I had the strength and support of my family,” said the 35-year-old actress, who has found popularity in Hollywood.
Talking at another talent-based reality show “India’s Next Superstars”, the actor also said, “Men also go through casting couch.”
Supporting Priyanka, the show’s host Rithvik Dhanjani said: “It’s the lower level people who want to take advantage of the struggling newcomers. Big directors and producers never do such things. I’ve been lucky to have worked with good people in the industry.”
This year has seen some of the best known actresses and celebrities from American showbiz pouring their heart out about experiences they went through to have the career they have. Several of them named producer Harvey Weinstein -- a revelation which opened a Pandora’s Box of more sexual abuse claims.
Bollywood has not named and shamed anyone, but celebrities in general have condemned its prevalence. Talking about it at the Penguin lecture, Priyanka said: “I think it has struck a chord with everyone in the world. You have all seen what happened with the Me Too hashtag. It was not just restricted to the US... It went all over the world.
“Different countries have different cultural boundaries. Meryl Streep can stand up and talk against the President over there (in US). They can sell anti-Trump memorabilia outside his house. It’s just a different way we live in our nation and we need to respect it.”
The National Award winner, who cemented her space in Hollywood with a lead role in American TV show Quantico, said the situation will change in India when the next generation is taught to respect a woman.
“I wouldn’t call women victims, I would call them survivors. But there shouldn’t be a world where women have to survive, there should be a world where women thrive.”
When the anchor pointed out to Priyanka that author Shobhaa De commented that “look at how many (Weinsteins) there are in Bollywood”, the actress said in a witty way: “She seems to know a lot about it more... Why are you asking me?”