Recently I came across ABC’s new terrorist drama: ‘Quantico’, premiering later this year. Watching former Miss World Priyanka Chopra entering the hallowed halls of ‘Quantico’, I felt a visceral reaction that can in summed up in three short sentences: Great premise. Promising secondary cast. Who hired Priyanka Chopra?
Don’t get me wrong. I think Priyanka Chopra is a really good actress. She’s done some fabulous work in Bollywood from Fashion to Kaminey and brilliantly managed to walk the fine line between Bollywood commercialism and character-driven roles.
However, this particular show rankles, especially coming on the heels of PC’s last Americanized venture: ‘Exotic’. Priyanka has this idea that she wants to change the way the world views Bollywood and India. While the principle is noble, the execution leaves much to be desired. What Priyanka may not realize or has probably considered and disregarded is that through projects like ‘Exotic’, ‘In My City’ and ‘Quantico’, she is just replacing one stereotype with another.
The world is moving away from seeing us Indians as Appu in The Simpsons to branding us as two distinct types of Indians: the ignorant, oppressed, impoverished villager and the urban, modern Indian determined to reject traditional mindsets and adopt what’s perceived as the ‘West’ culture. It is this second stereotype that Priyanka’s character in Quantico promotes.
As much as Priyanka claims that she has tried to stay away from Indian stereotyped roles; choosing roles of American characters with American accents, her voice betrays her. Rather than an American accent, she adopts the cliched Indian-adopting-an-American accent (think Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in The Pink Panther 2). Is this a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not.
However, PC’s accent is not the only problem with her casting. The ABC producers probably believed that by casting Priyanka, they would activate a billion more fans for the show. They weren’t wrong. Within an hour of the promo launch, both Priyanka Chopra and ‘Quantico’ were trending in the Indian sub-continent.
But is the allure of Priyanka Chopra enough? I don’t think so. Billions will tune in/ download the pilot of Quantico out of curiosity and Indian pride but how long will they stay engaged to the thriller drama is up for debate. Even with the undertones of Homeland and 24 in ‘Quantico’, I have a feeling that the writers have cast themselves into a corner on this one.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, you can check out the promo here: ABC’s Quantico.