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The 'single mom' who's got everyone talking

Last updated on: November 12, 2013 13:03 IST

Image: Priyanka Bose
Photographs: Jaydeep Sarkar Abhishek Mande Bhot

Priyanka Bose stars in a new jewellery advertisement. But that's probably just one of the feathers in her cap. Read on to know more.

The latest television commercial for Tanishq, Tata's branded jewellery, features a dusky young woman getting ready for her wedding.

(See the advertisement here)

She is not fair-skinned, which is the first refreshing break from tradition.

The next is that she is the mother of a little girl. And her husband-to-be is very happy to take on the responsibility of the child.

A dark-skinned bride and one marrying for the second time is not what we are used to seeing in our predictable advertisements, and the ad went viral on the Internet.

(More about that here)

The refreshingly unusual commercial is directed by Gauri Shinde, who made the Sridevi sleeper hit of the year, English Vinglish.

The advertisement may or may not increase sales, but it has fulfilled a major requirement of any ad -- people are talking about it and it has recall value.

There are also comparisons with an old advertisement of the women's magazine Femina, on a similar subject, featuring a young Minissha Lamba.

(Watch the advertisement here)

The woman in the Tanishq's advertisement is Priyanka Bose, a promising young actress whose movie credits include Love Sex Aur Dhoka, Guzaarish and Johnny Gaddar besides Gangor, the only Indian movie that was in competition at the fifth International Rome Film Festival in 2010.

Bose is also part of Nirbhaya, the play based on the gruesome Delhi rape case, which opened to rave reviews at this year's Edinburgh Theatre Festival.

Her biggest 'mainstream' role will be in Gulaab Gang, the Bollywood movie with Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla in the lead roles.

It's based on the real life Gulabi Gang, a group of women vigilantes who dress in pink saris and fight for social justice.

In an email interview with, Priyanka Bose talks about her film and theatre career, what she makes of showbiz, and reveals her connection with the Femina advertisement.

What has been the strongest reaction you have received for the Tanishq commercial?

A couple of blogs I read about the advertisement discussed the finesse and textures of the film and the fact that the brand was making waves with its choice of a 'dusky' actress getting remarried and that other brands should learn from this.

Twitter had a bunch of such positive remarks from influential people in the industry.

The 'single mom' who's got everyone talking

How did you get the job?

I auditioned for it with Amita Sehgal, a casting director. I don't do ad auditions any more as content is very important to me. But this was something I didn't mind auditioning for thrice.

When did you know this wasn't going to be a run-of-the-mill commercial?

When I read the script and learnt that they were looking far and wide for the right cast.

But I detach almost immediately after I finish anything so I hadn't seen the outcome till a friend urged me to watch it online.

Were you expecting the kind of reactions you received?

No, not at all!

What was it like working with Gauri Shinde? Have you worked with her before?

No, but I have wanted to, after I saw English Vinglish. She is amazing at what she does and won't compromise, which is just what I like.

There has been some comparison of the Tanishq ad with an old Femina advertisement. Your thoughts please

Incidentally, I was a production assistant for that ad. I had just graduated from school and had started working with a Delhi production company that line-produced it for Highlight Films (Mumbai).

The advertisement was directed by Mahesh Mathai. I got the cast together and did practically everything that is needed for a production assistant to do.

For that time I thought the script was quite progressive.

But for now I think the Tanishq ad is way superior.

The 'single mom' who's got everyone talking

Photographs: Shreya Dev Dubey

What is your role in Gulaab Gang? How did you land the part?

I have known Soumik (Sen, the director) ever since he wrote this film. It took him two years and several drafts before he got down to making it.

When he got everyone on board, he got in touch with me to play Sandhya's character. After understanding what I needed to do, I said yes.

Sandhya is a tribal and is an integral part of the gang.

What can we expect from this film?

Madhuri Dixit's true comeback and some kickass women doing some amazing stunts.

You've said that this is an exciting time for women in Bollywood, which is true for some films. A majority, though, often resort to stereotypical projections of women. How do you see women actors such as yourself negotiating for space in the industry?

It's a business and like all businesses you have to negotiate. I can say I have learnt a lot and am getting pretty good at it.

I am not ready to accept easily what they have to offer and I'm unashamed about what I can do, hence I am flowing and making my own path.

You are also associated with PaapiPet Productions that produces a wide-range of films -- from government campaigns to music videos. Could you tell us a little about it?

PaapiPet Pictures is a collaboration with likeminded people who have the same agenda, that is, telling stories.

Jaydeep Sarkar, Rheyan Jauharie and I started something that made us explore opportunities as creative people and work with people who wanted the same.

We got to do the Congress campaigns as Pradeep Sarkar's Apocalypso Films trusted us with this job. We got to work with some genuine talent and wonderful scripts.

The 'single mom' who's got everyone talking

Photographs: Shreya Dev Dubey

With Bollywood taking over every single open space, where does the market for music videos stand?

The era of music videos is dying. But I remember a time when it was everything.

It is still worldwide and there is such talent in this country doing alternative or Hindi music independent of Bollywood. I don't want this to die out.

Would you say the golden age of music videos in India is behind us?

Hopefully not.

What role do you play in Nirbhaya? How did the play come about?

The play is written and directed by Yael Farber (a multiple award-winning director and playwright). It is a small gesture from her to Nirbhaya (the Delhi rape victim), ensuring that she didn't die in vain.

Poorna Jagannathan got in touch with Yael and brought her to India, where we work-shopped around the idea of making this piece.

The cast came together, some through Facebook, and we started work in Delhi in an art village called Zorba the Buddha.

Yael took stories and experiences from us and within six weeks we were ready to crawl towards our first previews in London this year before we headed to Edinburgh.

The fringe festival welcomed us with open arms. We had a successful run, winning the prestigious Amnesty Freedom of Expression award and the Herald's Angel award. It was a very gratifying experience.

We are working towards bringing it to India soon.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Kolkata and brought up in Delhi. I completed my education from a convent school and BA (honours in Sociology) from Delhi University.

My parents and my brother are settled in Delhi; my mom teaches in a school while my father is retired but insists on still working as he hates twiddling his thumbs.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor? How did you go about it?

Acting was a gradual step from my training in dance and theatre. I realised choreography was not my forte and there were many people who did a better job.

I just liked acting out lines too much. So I read a lot about actors in their words that actually inspired me to take this up as a chosen field of expression.

What do you make of showbiz?

Showbiz is showbiz. (There is) nothing to make of it. It just works better for me if I don't take anything other than my work seriously.

What are you working on next?

Right now I'm reading a couple of things; nothing I can talk about.

What kind of projects do you hope to see yourself being part of?

I want to earn the good parts for women in Bollywood.