The actress and her mother, Madhu Chopra, are working on three films, including one which pays tribute to the creator of the ‘Common Man’ and the late Goan cartoonist
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; March 3, 2017)

To celebrate women and children in cinema, Priyanka Chopra is rolling with three special projects this year. And since, the 34-year-old actress-singer-producer is busy in New York, shooting for the second season of her American TV series, Quantico, her mother Madhu Chopra will fly off to Sikkim on March 8 — Women’s Day, where their first production for 2017 is currently being shot.

Written and directed by debutant Paakhi Tyrewala, wife of filmmaker Abbas Tyrewala, Pahuna is a story of three courageous children who get separated from their parents while fleeing from Nepal to Sikkim. The film is set against the Maoist agitation and is presently being shot in Gangtok over a 40-day schedule. Since the dialogues are in Sikkimese and Nepali, there’s a translator as well as local assistants on set to guide the cast and crew.

“It’s a fantastic script and I was a little scared initially about filming in the region. But we have received huge support from the Sikkimese government and the locals are really gentle and very co-operative. Over 80 per cent of our cast are actors from the North-East because Priyanka wants to make the film as ‘local’ as possible. Even the music is Sikkimese folk songs,” informs Madhu.

She admits that mainstream producers are afraid of venturing into regional cinema because that’s not where the big bucks are. But she is proud that her actress-daughter has decided to throw caution to the wind.

“Priyanka has chosen to work with the best in the region and make her regional films commercially viable with a good production plan. She is passionate about these projects and will never lend her name to something just for the sake of it. There was no commercial cinema is Sikkim before this. Priyanka’s attempt is to give local talent a chance to make movies and enjoy them,” she exults.

Once Pahuna wraps, the Chopras will get started on Little Joe, Kaha Ho? which is set in Goa and is in Konkani and Hindi. Written and directed by debutant Suvrata Nasnodkar, the film is a tribute to legendary cartoonist R K Laxman and will capture the world of Goan cartoonist-writer, Mario Miranda, through the eyes of children. The light-hearted drama about friendship will be filmed over the summer in the island state. “Working with young people has been a wonderful ride for me. I think they’re far more professional and passionate. Little Joe, Kaha Ho? is a brilliant script and will feature many Portuguese songs. For the first time, the audience will see Goa as created by the Goans and not through Bollywood eyes,” Madhu promises.

The working title of the third production is Almaseer. It marks the directorial debut of Laura Mishra and is set in Agra, around the eternal symbol of love — The Taj Mahal. It is an endearing story about a young boy and his dog. Set in UP, the Hindi film will showcase the culture of the historic city.

Despite their packed slate, the mother-daughter duo, who has already produced films in Bhojpuri (Bum Bum Bol Raha Hai Kaashi), Punjabi (Sarvann) and Marathi (Ventilator), hope to finalise their Assamese film over the next six months. “It’s still in its nascent stage but talks have begun. We’ll be producing a film in Assam by next year,” Madhu asserts.