TORONTO—For a moment, shouting fans seemed about to grab her right off the stage.
Priyanka Chopra, the Angelina Jolie of India, was in Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), premiering a biopic (biographical film) about an Olympic boxer named Mary Kom. The film tells of Kom’s unlikely rise to the top of women’s boxing.
Chopra is a superstar in India, though few in North America know her name, despite her winning Miss World in 2000.
Chopra has made a bit of a daring move by starring in a movie about an Indian boxer.
First, India is not a sport country, beyond a passion for cricket. It is even more unusual for women to play sports in India, especially boxing.
“I’ve always tried to pick and choose parts that are different for female actors, especially in India. I think that I want to be able to change the game a little bit for the future generation of female actors,” Chopra told reporters a day before the film’s debut.
Chopra is one of the few actresses who could do that. She’s achieved acclaim and a following that gives her artistic liberties that won’t compromise her bank-ability. On the red carpet last Thursday, she explained why the risk of doing such a different kind of movie didn’t unsettle her.
“I’m not common, I’m unique and I take parts that are unique, because I think ‘What’s life without risks?’
“I’m hoping that when people watch it, not just women, but young people out there, it helps them. You know when that feeling of hopelessness happens, when you feel like nothing is going your way, just sit back and say, ‘I can take charge of my destiny and my life, just if I work hard.’ And that helps sometimes.”
Hard work has certainly helped Chopra, who talked about how much she had to push herself. A result of that labor was apparent moments later.
After introducing the picture to a full house at the luxurious Elgin Theatre, Chopra agreed to an impromptu autograph session after fans swarmed the stage.
One fan, perhaps a little too eager, prompted a bodyguard to wave someone off from the stage among the throng of hands reaching for the star. After taking a few selfies with her fans and throwing a stack of CDs into the forest of arms reaching up to her, Chopra left without incident.
The film, directed by Omung Kumar, has had a solid opening in India, and looks well on its way to commercial success.