Namaste, Newton North

After years on the Bollywood circuit, former Newton resident Priyanka Chopra gets ready for her U.S. debut.

priyanka chopra quantico

photograph by AP Photo/Joshua Paul

Back in February, the Indian film star Priyanka Chopra found herself stranded in Boston.

In town to speak at EF Education First’s 50th anniversary shindig alongside Bill Clinton and Steve Wozniak, Chopra ended up socked in by a blizzard after the event. So she did what she would have done back when she was a Newton North student: She took a snow day. “It was beautiful,” she said. “Me and my cousins went out to Boston Common and made snow angels.”

The biggest star to come out of thespian-rich Newton isn’t Mindy Kaling, and it isn’t John Krasinski. It’s Chopra, a Bollywood A-lister beloved by millions across Southeast Asia. There she is, starring in a superhero blockbuster opposite heartthrob Hrithik Roshan, or trading barbs with Shah Rukh Khan. There she is, descending from the ceiling to dance in an awards-show musical extravaganza. Yet in the U.S. she’s mostly as unknown as she was back in the ’90s, when she was just a teenager obsessed with Tupac and Destiny’s Child, drawing pictures on her flare jeans. All of that will change this month when the ABC vehicle Quantico premieres. In it, Chopra plays an FBI trainee accused of terrorism in what sounds like a mash-up of Grey’s Anatomy and 24.

When I spoke to her, Chopra was in the midst of a shooting schedule that had her flying from two different movie sets in India to the Quantico set in L.A. “I’m balancing two careers on two different continents!” she said. Working in the U.S., she added, is “like being a freshman in high school” all over again. Here’s hoping it goes at least as well as her Newton North days.