Priyanka Chopra Experiment with unconventional roles (2009–2011)
In 2009, Chopra played a feisty Marathi woman named Sweety in Vishal Bhardwaj’s caper thriller Kaminey (co-starring Shahid Kapoor), about twin brothers and the journey in their life linked with the underworld. The film received critical acclaim and became successful at the box-office with the worldwide gross earnings of ₹710 million (US$10 million). Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India thought that Chopra’s role completely reinvented her, and Rajeev Masand wrote: “Springing a delightful surprise in a smaller part is [Chopra], who sprinkles her lines with a smattering of fluent Marathi and emerges one of the film’s most lovable characters.” Raja Sen of Rediff.com named Chopra’s performance as the best by an actress that year. Her role earned her several awards and nominations, including a second consecutive Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role after Fashion and Best Actress nominations at the Filmfare, Screen and IIFA awards.
Chopra subsequently appeared in Ashutosh Gowariker’s romantic comedy What’s Your Raashee?, based on the novel Kimball Ravenswood by Madhu Rye. The film depicts the story of a US-based Gujrati NRI in search of his soulmate among 12 girls (all played by Chopra) associated with the 12 zodiac signs. She received the Screen Best Actress Award nomination for her performance in the film. She was also considered for inclusion in the Guinness World Records book for being the first film actress to portray 12 distinct characters in one film. Chopra’s heavy workload—filming for several productions, travelling for endorsements and performing at live shows (including the Miss India pageant)—took its toll; she fainted during filming, and was admitted to hospital.
In 2010, Chopra starred with Uday Chopra in Jugal Hansraj’s unremarkable romantic comedy Pyaar Impossible! as Alisha, a beautiful college girl (and later a working mother) who falls in love with a nerdy boy. Later that year, she co-starred with Ranbir Kapoor in Siddharth Anand’s romantic comedy Anjaana Anjaani. The film, set in New York and Las Vegas, follows the story of two strangers, both trying to commit suicide, who eventually fall in love with each other. The film was a moderate commercial success, and received mixed reviews from critics.
She starred as a femme fatale in her first film of 2011, Vishal Bhardwaj’s black comedy 7 Khoon Maaf. Based on the short story “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” by Ruskin Bond, 7 Khoon Maaf centers on Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes, an Anglo-Indian woman (played by Chopra) who murders her seven husbands in an unending quest for love. The film and her performance received acclaim from critics. Nikhat Kazmi remarked, “7 Khoon Maaf would undoubtedly end up as a milestone in Priyanka Chopra’s career graph. The actor displays exquisite command over a complex character that is definitely a first in Indian cinema.” Rachel Saltz of New York Times felt that Susanna was more conceit than a character and that Chopra “though charming as always, can’t make her cohere”. Chopra’s performance earned her the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress and a nomination for the Filmfare Award, IIFA Award, Producers Guild Film Award, and Screen Award for Best Actress.
Chopra’s final release of the year saw her reprising her role as Roma in the second installment of the Don franchise, Don 2. Although the film received mixed reviews, Chopra’s performance earned positive feedback from critics. According to The Express Tribune, “Chopra … seems to be the perfect choice for an action heroine. As you watch her effortlessly beat up some thugs in the movie, you come to the realisation that she may be the first proper female action hero in Bollywood.” Don 2 was a major success in India and overseas, earning over ₹2.06 billion (US$29 million) worldwide.