Two Professional Women Stars – Talent, Market Scarcity or Both ?


Last week was Davos, that gathering in Switzerland of the world’s self-proclaimed “liberal” but very rich people. Financial Networks like CNBC build their own “tent” there to corral investors, practitioners & influential personalities to get snippets for their viewers. For lesser people who go there, the goal is to be seen in the hope they become a part of the circle. No wonder Davos is now known for being completely & 180- degree wrong in whatever they focus on annually. 

But this year we got a pleasant surprise via CNBC. We saw Sara Eisen, a CNBC anchor, interview Priyanka Chopra, the ex-Bollywood actress we have seen for the past 20 years.  Priyanka’s story is one of hard work to embellish her given talent & looks AND a constant drive to find areas or niches to make herself successful. It is the last asset that has taken her out of a forgotten semi-retirement in India into a new life & career in Manhattan. 

But we can never think about Priyanka Chopra without thinking about Katrina Kaif, the actress who took Bollywood by storm and almost displaced Priyanka from Bollywood. Neither could act much at the beginning. But both came with assets that made Bollywood bet on them. 

Priyanka Chopra came into Bollywood as Miss World 2000. She was not the only one with that recognition. She was one of 3-4 Indian actresses that won Miss Universe or Miss World in that period. In fact Lara Dutta won Miss Universe in 2000, the year in which Priyanka won Miss World. So it wasn’t surprising to see both Priyanka & Lara cast in the same breakout film Andaz (2003).  They both sizzled but Priyanka soon went ahead of Lara. It is just that Priyanka wore Sarees better & looked much more desi or Indian than Lara. 

In fact her “desi” looks became a hit song with two handsome guys singing – “have seen thousands of par-desi (foreign) girls but “ain’t nobody like my desi girl.”” In an ironical Bollywood, this is sung in Miami by the two Indian hunks men who are, presumably, tired of “foreign” girls.  


It might just have been the peak of the “desi” magic of Priyanka. Because she was soon overshadowed by a real “pardesi” or foreign girl in Bollywood. She is Katrina Kaif, born Katrina Turquotte, an English actress & model who was spotted in London by a film-maker. 


               (Indian Priyanka)                             &                          (English Katrina)


The rise of Katrina Kaif is truly remarkable. She could not speak any Hindi, the language of Bollywood and her lines had to be dubbed. People laughed at her inability to act or speak in Hindi. But she worked hard & her talent came through. Fortunately for her, she was paired with Akshay Kumar, a superstar on the rise.


Her breakout film was “Namaste London” again with Akshay Kumar who plays a rural all-Indian boy who meets Katrina, a girl from London, in his small town. Their parents force their marriage. But Katrina’s character rebels after returning to London with Akshay but eventually understands the true love & strength of Akshay. Katrina, the girl from London, was the perfect choice for her role & there was no stopping her from there.

Then it became time for heroines to act in “item” (vampy) songs. And both Katrina & Priyanka delivered. First Katrina in her “foreign” type role in Cape Town, South Africa. 


And Priyanka in rural Gujarat in her “desi” role:


But finally scarcity value became the dominant factor. Bollywood was full of “desi” or Indian dusky actresses like Priyanka but there was only one fair or white actress Katrina. So Priyanka perhaps found herself relegated to a secondary status in her home market.

To her credit, she realized there was a bigger market where she could have scarcity value or be a “unique” asset. The US entertainment media was looking for an Asian face with proven talent. Priyanka entered the US scene with a song that was a hit. 


Then, aided by a superb PR effort, came her headline role in the ABC thriller series Quantico and model roles.  What a fantastic success story! And all of it is hard work, drive & ambition added to her given talent. 

Also add real intelligence to her list of assets. And that has enabled Priyanka to add another aura – that of a philanthropist. Yes, we do understand that the “philanthropy” industry is probably the pinnacle of hypocrisy in America and a world where people engaged in “philanthropy” sell themselves & collect money plus recognition while doing precious little. 

That is not to denigrate Priyanka but actually admire her instincts & drive. She represents what the late Mark Haines of CNBC said of Jim Cramer – that Cramer was the pastor of the “church of whatever is working right now“. That applies to Priyanka even more than it applied to Jim Cramer. No wonder Priyanka got herself invited to Davos, something Jim Cramer has not been able to do. 

And that brings us to what triggered this article – Priyanka’s interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen. Frankly, we couldn’t stop laughing at the vacuous & even dumb conversation. Sara Eisen introduced Priyanka as one with a message to world’s billionaires!!! Priyanka’s entire life has reportedly devoted to making money, marketing herself & attaching herself to prominent & powerful people. Now she is chosen by CNBC to deliver a message to the world’s billionaires about giving money to the poor!!!

Don’t get us wrong. We are not laughing at Priyanka Chopra. We are laughing at Sara Eisen & her hero-worshiping type lame interview that could only be described as a publicity stunt for Priyanka.  Great for Priyanka. She ate up CNBC’s Sara Eisen & Sara didn’t even know it. What a spectacle!  

Perhaps the next step for CNBC is to promote Priyanka Chopra for the Nobel Peace Prize. They already have the anchor to lead that promotion – Sara Eisen.

We ourselves are content to admire the talent, hard work & drive of two phenomenal women, Priyanka Chopra & her fellow actress Katrina Kaif. 




Editor’s PS: We cannot end the above article without featuring a thoroughly rustic Indian super-hit clip of Katrina Kaif, an English woman born in Hong Kong. The real message is that background or origin doesn’t matter. All that matters is talent combined with intense hard work & drive.



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