ETimes Explainer: Priyanka Chopra and Karan Johar’s history in Bollywood – Times of India

Priyanka Chopra has stirred the hornet’s nest with her recent statements and the internet is yet to come to terms with the unsettling revelations and confessions. ETimes delves deep into Priyanka’s allegations of politics in Bollywood. What’s the Karan Johar connection here? What’s the story behind Kangana Ranaut’s claims? Who are the people involved in ending Priyanka’s Bollywood career? Is this all just a part of the PR machinery? We trace events back to 2004-05, when Priyanka’s star was on the rise and her first tryst with Karan Johar was just around the corner. Read on to discover the detailed history behind Priyanka Chopra’s controversial claims…

What is the Priyanka-Karan controversy about?

On a recent podcast, Priyanka said, “I was being pushed into a corner in the industry (Bollywood). I had people not casting me, I had beef with people, I am not good at playing that game so I kind of was tired of the politics and I said I needed a break.” Kangana jumped in to allege that Karan Johar was responsible. Kangana had tweeted, “This is what ⁦@priyankachopra⁩ has to say about Bollywood, people ganged up on her, bullied her and chased her out of film industry a self made woman was made to leave India. Everyone knows Karan Johar had banned her.”

Spilling the koffee

Before they started collaborating on films as actor and producer, Priyanka and Karan had already met on the sets of his popular talk show – Koffee With Karan. Priyanka made an appearance on every season of the show from its 2004-05 debut right up until the second last season. She was only missing from the ‘couch of fame’ in the last season. Even after their much-talked-about fallout in 2012 (which we will detail a little later in this piece) PeeCee still showed up to have Koffee with Karan. Why was she missing from the last season? An educated guess can be the fact that Priyanka’s daughter Malti Marie was born in January 2022 and she could have been busy with mommy duties back in LA.

Priyanka and Karan’s Dostana

Their paths had also crossed in the 2007 film Salaam-e-Ishq, where Priyanka played an actress obsessed with impressing Karan Johar. Just around the same time, Priyanka was riding high on the success of films like ‘Don’, ‘Krrish’ and ‘Fashion’. Karan Johar roped her in to play the lead in his ambitious movie ‘Dostana’ which turned out to be a huge hit and one of the most successful releases of 2008.

What was the fight all about?

Cut to 2012 when it all went awry. All as well, Priyanka and Hrithik Roshan even delivered the blockbuster ‘Agneepath’ for Karan Johar’s production house in January. However, PeeCee’s secret spotting with Shah Rukh Khan led to massive buzz about their romance. A source from the film fraternity reveals, “While it looked like there was trouble in SRK-Gauri’s paradise, their best friend Karan jumped in to save the situation.”

It was alleged that KJo played an important role in driving Priyanka away from Bollywood, to save SRK’s marriage. A friend of the actress had spilled the beans on an anti-PC campaign being pushed by Gauri Khan and other star wives. She had spoken to Mumbai Mirror and said, “At a recent party while he (Karan) was feeding her cupcakes, she heard rumours of him bitching her out-all this is very hurtful. Priyanka has done nothing wrong. If these women are insecure about their relationships with their husbands, they should sort it out with them, at home. Why should they attack her?”

Karan’s counter attack

Retorting to the article, a furious KJo had tweeted, “Using their hired PR machinery and hiding behind so-called ‘friends’ to get news into tabloids is nothing but spineless and lame. Some people need to wake up and smell the KOFFEE!!! Get a reality check before it’s too late!!! Grow up!!! and don’t mess with goodness.”

Admitting that he reacted like a pressure cooker to the controversy, KJo offered an olive branch to Priyanka later and invited her to his 40th birthday bash in May, 2012. Was it just a cover up to end the negativity? Another source says, “It must have been all show, because Priyanka was clearly not getting any work in Bollywood after that.”

Branching out and away

Amid her father’s illness and all the whispers about her personal life, Priyanka decided to look beyond India. While the Khans had supposedly banished the actress, Priyanka worked with Ram Charan in the ‘Zanjeer’ (2013) remake. She joined forces with Hrithik Roshan for ‘Krrish 3’ (2013) and was cast by Aditya Chopra in ‘Gunday’ (2014). Priyanka kept up with her appearances on KJo’s chat show but was missing from his roster of movies.

In a hope to mark her international footprint, Priyanka invested in music videos and collaborated with Will.I.Am in 2012 and turned ‘Exotic’ with Pitbull in 2013. Between 2014 and 2015 Priyanka headlined movies like Mary Kom, Dil Dhadakne Do and Bajirao Mastani.

2015 was the year when Priyanka took the big step towards her international career and signed up to play the lead in the English TV show ‘Quantico’. Her efforts to impress the West finally paid off! A couple of years after playing Alex Parrish in ‘Quantico’, PC arrived in Hollywood with ‘Baywatch’ (2017). She was being called Dwayne Johnson’s bestie. The days of just being a Bollywood star were over!

Global diva

Priyanka Chopra had established her global supremacy by 2017 but back in Bollywood, there was no calling. Her collaboration with Prakash Jha, Jai Gangaajal (2016) was her last major showing in B-Town. The only offer she received was to play the lead alongside Salman Khan in ‘Bharat’ (2019). But the actress walked out of the project, citing ‘marriage was on the cards’. The grapevine claims that the global star was not too impressed with the movie though. Soon, Priyanka put on a show of pomp and power with an extravagant wedding to ‘India’s Jiju’ Nick Jonas.

Shutting all naysayers, Priyanka had the wedding of her dreams, having clearly established her international popularity. From walking the red carpet at the Oscars to making a statement at the Met Gala, marrying into the Jonas family and mingling with international celebrities… Priyanka’s life overseas was hitting headlines. And finally Bollywood came calling again…

Her own co-production ‘The Sky Is Pink’ (2019) with Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim was the last time we saw PeeCee in an Indian movie. A senior filmmaker tells us, “Priyanka could have stayed back, pushed through with her immense talent and worked around the male stars not working with her. She is a big enough star to be the hero of her films. But the fact that she chose to do the same thing in Hollywood is a masterstroke.”

A stinging jab

After all these years, Priyanka and SRK’s feud resurfaced recently, albeit in a veiled manner. In an interview, SRK said, “Why should I go there (Hollywood), I am comfortable here”. When Priyanka was asked about this reply, she told SXSW, “Comfortable is boring to me. I am not arrogant, I am self-assured. I know what I am doing when I walk onto a set. I don’t need the validation of executives. I am willing to take auditions, I am willing to work. I do not carry the baggage of my success in one country when I walk into another country.”

Is it all for publicity?

Netizens are divided over Priyanka’s latest revelations, claiming that the actress has been smart enough to make these statements just as the promotions of her OTT series ‘Citadel’ kick in. The candid confessions have certainly created a blitzkrieg among media and fans alike. Everyone’s talking about Priyanka. And as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

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