BOOK EXCERPT

That time when Priyanka Chopra nearly gave it all up and decided to return to Bareilly

After winning the Miss World crown in 2000, Priyanka Chopra was supposed to make her acting debut in a Mahesh Manjrekar film – but something else happened.

Senior journalist Jyothi Venkatesh is perhaps the only one around who remembered going to the mahurat of a B-grade film called Good Night Princess even before Priyanka left for the Miss World pageant. It was to be made by Atlee Brar, who played a small-time villain in a Dev Anand film, with Pooja Batra as the heroine and Miss India World in ‘a good role’.

“The spotlight was on Pooja Batra and I noticed this young girl sitting by herself,” said Jyothi. “So I went up to her and asked her her name. She said, ‘Priyanka Chopra.’ I asked her why she didn’t wait for a better debut and she said, ‘I’m from Bareilly. Everything’s so new for me out here.’”

Fortunately for Priyanka, Good Night Princess didn’t progress beyond the initial flutter and she went on to become Miss World. “We stayed in touch,” recalled Jyothi, “and when she finally signed The Hero, she called up and told me about it.

“It’s true that Priyanka is not the most beautiful girl around,” he remarked. “To begin with, she was dark and a little plump too. But her winning trait was her ability to do a reality check on herself. She knew her flaws and worked hard to overcome them. Look at Lara Dutta. She debuted at the same time as Priyanka; it was Advantage Lara at that time. But she faded away while Priyanka grew from strength to strength.

Priyanka Chopra in her first studio shoot. Image credit Dainik Bhaskar/Om Books International.
Priyanka Chopra in her first studio shoot. Image credit Dainik Bhaskar/Om Books International.

One of the many films that she shot for and heartachingly watched as it got shelved was Vijay Galani’s untitled film with big-ticket director Mahesh Manjrekar at the helm. The mahurat shot featured her with Bobby Deol, then a busy hero.

“The media was there in full strength and Prakash Jaju, her secretary, kept asking me to go and meet her,” Galani went back in time. “So I went to her room where she was doing her make-up and that’s when I realised why Jaju had been egging me to go meet her. She’d just had some nasal surgery done in London where the bridge of her nose had collapsed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had a little bit of shooting here in Film City and then a long schedule planned in London. How could we shoot with the heroine’s nose looking the way it did?

“But Priyanka herself wasn’t one bit perturbed,” remarked Galani. “She was absolutely confident that it was a temporary situation and that the nose would settle down in a month’s time, definitely by the time we left for London.”

Galani got into a huddle with Mahesh Manjrekar who assured him that he’d manage the first schedule at Film City. “I’ll take long shots, don’t worry,” said the director to the worried producer...They shot for a few days during which time Priyanka would go to Film City and sit with Galani and the team in an office there to discuss the film.

But a month later, the nose was still a problem.

By then a few other factors also kicked in. Mahesh Manjrekar who had signed a spate of films after Vaastav, began to deliver one flop after another. Within weeks his market value crashed.

The Deols too were not comfortable. Bobby was antsy about his heroine’s nose and he promised to adjust the money he’d been paid by Galani against another film.

What was important to note was that although he didn’t make a film with her, Vijay knew she would turn out to be a fine actress. “In those five to six days that she worked with me, we knew that she was a powerful actress. Bahut achcha kaam kiya (She put in some excellent work),” applauded Galani who missed the opportunity to be the man who launched Priyanka Chopra.

Play
The Hero Love Story of a Spy (2003).

“People in this industry exaggerate limitlessly,” observed Jaywant Thakre, the expert who had done the make-up on Priyanka’s face on that fateful evening when Vijay Galani and director Mahesh Manjrekar had their mahurat and had been aghast at their heroine’s nose. The bridge that had collapsed, costing her seven films from which she was ejected, was not such a big deal, said Thakre. “What are we make-up artistes for if not to camouflage such elements?” he questioned. “When I did the make-up for Shilpa Shetty during Dhadkan, there was a cut clearly visible across her nose (after cosmetic surgery). It was my job as the makeup man to take care of it and nobody saw that cut in the film. Between the make-up man and the cameraman, such things can be easily handled. Priyanka’s nose was also manageable. It wasn’t the kind of disaster that the media and the industry made it out to be.”

Jaju had also boasted that when all the producers were dropping her, Anil Sharma too was on the verge of following suit when he (Jaju) pleaded with him to retain Priyanka in his film The Hero. The filmmaker had given in but had whittled down her role from the main lead to a secondary one.

Demolishing the report that he’d demoted Priyanka from main lead to second, Anil underscored, “That’s a fake story. When I signed her for The Hero, I didn’t have a script ready. We were only sure that Sunny Deol would play the title role, nothing else was finalised. When Priyanka was signed, it was talked of as a Sunny-Priyanka film. But the script hadn’t been written and when it was, it happened to have two girls in it, both opposite Sunny. Preity played one role, Priyanka the other.”

“After signing her, I’d gone to the US and Canada for three or four months. When I came back and started working on the script, I began to hear that she’d had some surgery done, that she wanted pouting lips like Julia Roberts. I hadn’t met her for a while because after my first few meetings with her, I was confident that she would be a very good actress, I knew that I wouldn’t have to slog over her performance… But when I returned, I met Pravinbhai of Time (then a popular production house) and he told me that she’d been dropped from three or four films. He also put a photograph before me. Of a girl in a bathing suit coming out of the pool. I told him, ‘This is not Priyanka, this is someone else. This girl is really awful looking while Priyanka is a pretty girl with a beautiful smile.’ He insisted that the girl in the photograph was Priyanka. I was shocked, so I called her and she came to meet me with her mother...

When I looked at her, I burst out angrily and asked her, ‘Where was the need to do all this?’ Mother and daughter got very emotional at this meeting and they explained that she’d had surgery done, it would take six to seven months for the nose to heal. Since she’d been dropped from three or four other films, they were going back to Bareilly and they returned my cheque to me. Yes, that was a very dignified thing to do. They were very decent, cultured people,” he noted appreciatively.

“I was also emotionally moved. So I told them not to return to Bareilly right away. I told them that I’d do a screen test with her. I called Pandhari dada (veteran makeup man), sent for cinematographer Kabir Lalji, decided on her look with short hair and took a screen test.

“She was determined, unmein kshamta thi (she had the ability), that’s why she succeeded. As a filmmaker, I had only the small role of presenting her on the screen in the right way,” he pointed out. “The first scene I filmed on her featured Priyanka in a long shot with Kabir Bedi. They were playing father and daughter and she gave her shot like a seasoned artiste. Kamaal ki performer hamesha se thi (She was always a fantastic performer). I used to tell her that she had very seductive eyes and a lovely husky voice. I knew she’d do very well. Par kitni door kaun jata hai yeh toh Ishwar hi bata sakta hai (But how far a person will go is something only god can tell you). By god’s grace, her choice of films also turned out well for her.”

Excerpted with permission from Priyanka Chopra The Dark Horse, Bharathi S Pradhan, Om Books International.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.