Priyanka Chopra was living a simple life but suddenly it took a thrilling turn when she ended up winning the Femina Miss India contest in 2000. This was followed by recognition at the global stage as she won the Miss World the same year. She then began to look at a career in films. She signed around 4 films but due to a botched up surgery, her face had got disfigured and she was replaced in 2 of them. However, the fourth film which she had signed turned out to be the first film she shot and it was a regional film.
The film in question is Thamizhan (2002), a Tamil action drama film directed by Majith and starring superstar Vijay as a crusading lawyer. Priyanka opens up about her experience of working on this film in her recently released memoir, ‘Unfinished’. She writes that it was the perfect debut vehicle for her as it consisted of a supportive team who made her feel respected. This was the time when her surgery had been a huge blow to her. But on the sets of Thamizhan, there was no discussion on her looks and that improved her confidence. Despite the film being in Tamil, an alien language for her, she said that she managed with the help of a Tamil coach who helped her learn the lines phonetically.
Priyanka Chopra then speaks highly of her first co-star whom she calls a “gifted and gracious actor” and that he tremendously inspired her. Vijay was already a huge star by then and every day, the shooting location would be surrounded by his fans eager to catch his glimpse. Priyanka states that she was amazed that despite working for fifteen hours, Vijay would “greet those who’d waited and take photographs with them for another hour and a half.”
She also adds, “Vijay’s humility and generosity with fans made a lasting impression on me.” She then narrates that 14-15 years later Thamizhan‘s shoot, she remembered Vijay while shooting for a portion of the pilot episode of her hit international television series ‘Quantico’ in front of the New York Public Library. A lot of her fans gathered to see the shoot. Taking a cue from Vijay, she said that during the lunch break, Priyanka Chopra interacted and clicked pictures with her fans. “I thought about my very first co-actor ever and the example he’d set,” writes Priyanka.
Vijay has been a darling of the masses and recently also of the exhibitors and trade. His Tamil flick, Master, was the first big film to release in cinemas post lockdown. Despite the limitations like 50% occupancy, Vijay and the makers took the risk and got the film to cinemas. Thankfully, Master emerged as a huge success and in many ways, it kick-started the cinema business down South.
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