BY ANUJ RADIA
From Bollywood actor to international icon, Priyanka Chopra has made huge waves in her career. More importantly, she has made history by becoming the first South-Asian to headline an American TV Show with Quantico.
However, the third season of the show recently ran into a controversy due to its episode titled ‘The Blood of Romeo’. In the episode, it was shown that Indian nationalists are carrying out a nuclear attack in Manhattan and plan to frame Pakistanis for it days before a summit on Kashmir.
Just recently, the producers of Quantico, ABC Studios issued an apology about the same. They said, “ABC Studios and the executive producers of ‘Quantico’ would like to extend an apology to our audience who were offended by the most recent episode, ‘The Blood of Romeo.’
The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn’t create the show, nor does she write or direct it. She has no involvement in the casting of the show or the storylines depicted in the series.”
Many Indians on social media felt that the episode portrayed India in a bad light and called out on PeeCee blatantly. For example, one viewer wrote: “ABC apologises to Indians for Hindu Nationalist Terror Plot portrayed in Quantico. What’s holding Priyanka Chopra back from Apologising? Sell outs like her are an insult to India. She consciously consented for the act. Shame. More power to India & Indians.”
Another Twitter user expressed: “That entire episode was not just an attack on Hindus but also an attack on India. Peddling Pakistani agenda that Indians make elaborate plots to frame Pakistan. Shame on @priyankachopra for even thinking such a storyline was acceptable. #QuanticoApology.”
The makers of the show added, “Quantico is a work of fiction. The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettable stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone.”
In response to this, the actress’ posters were torched in Delhi and protestors demanded her to apologise to the whole nation. Priyanka resorted to her Twitter page and apologised to people who got offended due to the episode.
She tweeted, “I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I’m a proud Indian and that will never change.”
Could it be that the Quantico creators knew that such a plotline would spark a scandal in India to generate interest for the series? Therefore, could this entire controversy seem pointless, given that the show has been cancelled?
With regards to Priyanka, she has always been scrutinised for various reasons. For instance, she faced public wrath after she wore a dress that that revealed her legs in a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, where several trolls claimed her to be ‘disrespecting’ Modiji.
Also, her recent visits to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as a global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights, caused some anger online. Trolls labelled her as a hypocrite and criticised her philanthropic gesture.
If that was not enough, she was also criticised by an Indian politician for wearing a lavender ensemble by Vivienne Westwood rather than a saree at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Therefore, it seems as though Priyanka Chopra has become an easy target for the public and politicians, alike.
Whilst both the makers and PeeCee herself has apologised, can she be directly accountable for the storyline, when in fact, she is being paid to perform?
Plus, could she – as an actor – and performer put her foot down to object to any polemic plotlines? Perhaps, it is better to separate politics from the performing arts.