Priyanka Chopra Expansion into American film and television (2015–present)
In 2015, Chopra starred in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, an ensemble comedy-drama alongside Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar. The film tells the story of a dysfunctional Punjabi family (the Mehras), who invite their family and friends on a cruise trip to celebrate the parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. She portrayed the role of Ayesha Mehra, a successful entrepreneur and the eldest child. Pratim D. Gupta from The Telegraph wrote of Chopra, “From the propah body language to the measured speech … shows the kind of depth she is able to bring to her lines and characters these days. Conversely, Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express commented that it was time for her “to being a little messy: all these not-a-hair-out-place roles are making her constrained.” The cast of Dil Dhadakne Do won the Screen Award for Best Ensemble Cast, and Chopra was nominated for a Screen Award, IIFA Award, and Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress.
Chopra signed a talent holding deal with ABC Studios and was later cast in the American thriller series Quantico as the character Alex Parrish. The series premiered on 27 September 2015 on ABC, making Chopra the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series. The series received positive reviews from television critics and Chopra was praised for her performance. James Poniewozik of The New York Times described Chopra as the “strongest human asset” of the show, and added that “she is immediately charismatic and commanding.” She received the People’s Choice Award for Favourite Actress In A New TV Series for her role in Quantico, becoming the first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award. The following year, Chopra won a second People’s Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic TV Actress. Quantico was cancelled after three seasons in 2018.
Chopra next portrayed Kashibai, the first wife of the Maratha general Peshwa Bajirao I, in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic historical romance drama Bajirao Mastani. The feature opened to positive reviews, and Chopra received praise for her portrayal which several reviewers regarded as her best performance to date. Rajeev Masand wrote “the film benefits from a nice touch of playfulness and humor in Priyanka Chopra’s Kashibai. Chopra brings grace to the character, and practically steals the film.” Film critic Raja Sen thought that Chopra, despite not being in the title role, owned the film, and wrote “Chopra’s terrific in the part, her intelligently expressive eyes speaking volumes and her no-nonsense Marathi rhythm bang-on.” A major commercial success, Bajirao Mastani grossed ₹3.5 billion (US$49 million) at the box office, becoming one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time. For her performance, she won the Filmfare Award, IIFA Award, and Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress, and received a nomination for the Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
In 2016, Chopra starred as a police officer in Prakash Jha’s social drama Jai Gangaajal. Writing for The Hindu, Namrata Joshi thought that she “looks off-colour, disinterested and uninvolved with the goings on through most of the film”. It did not perform well commercially. She next produced the Marathi comedy-drama Ventilator under her production company Purple Pebble Pictures, which went on to win three awards at the 64th National Film Awards. The following year, Chopra made her Hollywood live-action film debut by playing the antagonist Victoria Leeds in Seth Gordon’s action comedy Baywatch opposite Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. The feature received unfavorable reviews. IGN declared Chopra as the highlight of the film, noting she “outshines pretty much anyone she’s in a scene with” and wrote “Chopra’s engaging and interesting and is the only character that speaks with any kind of distinctive cadence.” Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote “Chopra has fun as the baddie, but she stays in the background until the end of the movie and really only gets one big scene at the end of the picture.” Baywatch was not a commercial success in North America but the film performed well in the overseas markets. The 2018 Sundance Film Festival marked the release of Chopra’s next American film, A Kid Like Jake, a drama about gender variance, starring Jim Parsons and Claire Danes. Amy Nicholson of Variety commended her “charming presence” but thought that her role added little value to the film. In early 2019, she had signed on to play the leading lady opposite Salman Khan in Bharat, but opted out days before filming her scenes. Nikhil Namit, a producer of the film, said that she quit due to her engagement to Nick Jonas and accused her of being “a little unprofessional”.
In 2019, Chopra had another supporting part, as a yoga ambassador, in Todd Strauss-Schulson’s comedy Isn’t It Romantic, which starred Rebel Wilson. Dana Schwartz of Entertainment Weekly considered her to be “perfectly cast” but Benjamin Lee of The Guardian thought that she was “not quite interesting enough”. She returned to Hindi cinema later in 2019 with Shonali Bose’s biographical drama The Sky Is Pink, in which she played mother to Aisha Chaudhary, a teenager suffering from a terminal illness. She also produced the project, and connected with the story for its blend of humour and tragedy. Kate Erbland of IndieWire found her to be “extraordinary” as “the film’s driving force, a tough-talking mama bear”, and Anna M. M. Vetticad took note of the “simmering restraint” in her performance. She received another nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. The film did not do well at the box office.
Chopra will next star in two films for Netflix: an adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s satirical novel The White Tiger and Robert Rodriguez’s superhero film We Can Be Heroes. She will also star alongside Richard Madden in Prime Video’s thriller series Citadel, and she has been cast in an undisclosed role in The Matrix 4. She will also star as the spiritual guru and convicted criminal Ma Anand Sheela in Barry Levinson’s Sheela, a film she will produce for Amazon Studios. Chopra has also committed to star alongside Mindy Kaling in a comedy about an Indian-American wedding, and will portray the lawyer Vanita Gupta in Gordan’s courtroom drama Tulia, an adaptation of a non-fiction book Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption (2005) based on the 1999 racial injustice case that took place in the city of the same name. She is also producing over a dozen regional films in various languages under her production company.