On Sept.6, the night before the official opening of the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Bell Lightbox hosted an anticipated exclusive fundraising event, TIFF Soirée. This year, renowned actress Priyanka Chopra was the Guest of Honour, helping to raise funds for the newly launched Share Her Journey initiative.
Incredibly talented and ultra gorgeous, Chopra was a perfect fit for this year’s fundraising event. The actress has starred in both Bollywood and Hollywood films, directed and produced movies through her company Purple Pebble Pictures, and is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for women’s rights through The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education.
Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, had an intimate, almost two-hour long conversation with the actress on stage. She profoundly shared her journey with the audience, genuinely describing her experiences such as winning Miss World beauty pageant and producing Pahuna: The Little Visitors, the first-ever Sikkimese production from the province Sikkim in India with a debutante female director and a small cast of actors. The film had its world premiere at TIFF the day after the Soirée.
While North Americans might know the actress mostly from her mainstream roles in the TV show Quantico and the latest remake of Baywatch, the guests of TIFF Soirêe were shown clips of Chopra’s performance in Bollywood films, including Fashion (2008) and Barfi! (2012), where she is unrecognizable, playing an autistic girl.
Chopra said that she has always strived for roles that were original and where women were portrayed as strong and independent personalities, those who are not just a pretty face behind a leading man on a poster.
She credits her parents for their motivation and support. Notably, it was also her mother, Dr. Madhu Chopra, who had inspired the actress to launch her own charity and a film company. Overall, her mother has been her biggest inspiration. Not only is she an established former military doctor and a gynecologist who runs her own clinic, but she also helps to run the actress’ companies. Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures is committed not just to broadening their nation’s cinema beyond Bollywood and the commercial juggernauts of South India, but to also giving voice to the stories of girls and women.
After two hours of deep conversation, the attendees were invited upstairs to Malaparte, on the sixth floor of the building, for the after party. Director Deepa Mehta, Director X and Kardinal Offishall were among some of the VIP guests. It was another Soirée to remember.