Bollywood actresses are challenging sexist stereotypes by cheering on one of their own

Everybody’s friend.
Everybody’s friend.
Image: AP Photo/Joshua Paul
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In India, speculation about the enmity between various glamorous Bollywood actresses is practically a blood sport in the gossip columns of tabloids and the front pages of newspaper supplements.

Such reports tend to stereotype these stars—and by extension, women in general—as envious of and competitive with each other. Enormous significance is routinely drawn from the fact that two actresses didn’t greet each other affectionately at an event, for example, as if two people who have opted for the same career must go beyond cordiality to lavishly demonstrate their friendship.

But as Bollywood stars rally to support one of their own who has found success in a high-profile new American network TV show, the outpouring of support contradicts this narrative of jealousy and mutual dislike.

Ahead of Priyanka Chopra’s starring debut on American television with Quantico—an ABC drama about young FBI recruits in training—the film fraternity (and sorority) in India took to the social media to wish her the best.

As the show prepares to premiere in India on Oct. 3, a countdown of sorts has begun, with well-wishing Bollywood celebrities announcing the number of days left before the show will air in the country of Chopra’s birth:

The run-up to Quantico is not the only recent example of the film industry coming together—but it’s a less controversial one than the recent gathering of star support around actor Salman Khan, who was accused of killing a homeless man in a drunk driving hit-and-run incident, and sentenced to five years in jail in May.

The goodwill toward Chopra may also be helped by the largely positive reviews she has received so far. The New York Times wrote:

The strongest human asset in “Quantico” is Ms. Chopra, a Bollywood superstar and former Miss World who is immediately charismatic and commanding amid the otherwise generic ensemble. If there’s a problem with her casting, it’s that she may come across as too seasoned and assured to be persuasive as a shaky, neophyte recruit.

And Variety wrote:

With an arresting lead in Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World who was born in India, the show races through a lot of material very quickly, which makes it difficult to get a firm handle on where all of this might settle.

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