Priyanka Chopra Rise to Prominence (2005–2006)
In 2005, Chopra appeared in six films. Her first two releases, the action thrillers Blackmail and Karam, were commercially unsuccessful. Shilpa Bharatan-Iyer of Rediff.com considered Blackmail to be a very predictable film and believed that her role as a police commissioner’s wife was very limited from an acting point of view. Her performance in Karam was better received, Subhash K. Jha wrote that Chopra “with her poised interpretation of high drama, flies high creating a character whose vulnerability and beauty are endorsed by both the inner and outer worlds created for her character.” Later that year Chopra played the wife of Akshay Kumar in Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s family drama Waqt: The Race Against Time, the story of a small businessman (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who, hiding his illness, wants to teach his irresponsible son some lessons before he dies. During production, Chopra revisited Leh, a favourite childhood haunt, for the shooting of the song “Subah Hogi”. She suffered an accident during the filming for the song “Do Me A Favour Let’s Play Holi” when she electrocuted herself, spending a day recovering in hospital. The film was well received by critics, and was a commercial success.
She next starred opposite Arjun Rampal in the romantic mystery thriller Yakeen, portraying the role of a possessive lover. Critical reaction towards the film was mixed, but her performance received praise. Taran Adarsh wrote that Chopra “is bound to win laurels yet again… the actor is emerging as one of the finest talents in these fast-changing times”. Her next release was Suneel Darshan’s romance Barsaat, co-starring Bobby Deol and Bipasha Basu. The film was a critical and commercial failure in India but fared better in the overseas market. Chopra’s performance received mixed reviews, with Bollywood Hungama describing it as “mechanical”. However, Rediff.com considered Chopra to be an “epitome of calm intelligence, who underplayed her role to perfection”. Later that year, Rohan Sippy cast her with Abhishek Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Nana Patekar in the comedy Bluffmaster!. Chopra played independent working woman Simran Saxena, Bachchan’s love interest. The film proved to be a box-office success.
After starting 2006 with special appearances in three films, Chopra starred in Rakesh Roshan’s superhero film Krrish (a sequel to the 2003 science-fiction film Koi… Mil Gaya). Co-starring with Hrithik Roshan, Rekha and Naseeruddin Shah, Chopra played a young television journalist who schemes to take advantage of an innocent young man with remarkable physical abilities, but eventually falls in love with him. The film was the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India and grossed over ₹1.17 billion (US$16 million) worldwide attaining a blockbuster status. Her next film was Dharmesh Darshan’s romantic comedy Aap Ki Khatir, co-starring Akshaye Khanna, Ameesha Patel and Dino Morea. Neither the film nor Chopra’s performance were well received. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com stated that Chopra’s portrayal of Anu was “erratically sketched” and that her character was never consistent: “first flaky, then cool, and later, sensitive”.
Chopra’s final release of 2006 was Farhan Akhtar’s action-thriller Don (a remake of the 1978 film of the same name), with Shah Rukh Khan. Chopra portrayed Roma (played by Zeenat Aman in the original film), who joins the underworld to avenge Don for killing her brother. Chopra received martial-arts training for her role in the movie, and performed her own stunts. The film was declared a box-office success in India and overseas, with revenues of ₹1.05 billion (US$15 million). Raja Sen of Rediff.com found Chopra to be film’s “big surprise”; he believed that Chopra convincingly portrayed Roma, “looking every bit the competent woman of action” and wrote “This is an actress willing to push herself, and has definite potential for screen magic. Not to mention a great smile.”