This blog post, in no way possible, supports Priyanka Chopra or Quantico or ABC Studios or Hindu nationalists or anyone, even minutely, related to the thriller series. This blog post is simply an expression of discontent at the flimsy nationalism and the (unnecessary) outrage across India.
From being hailed as the Indian ambassador in Hollywood, to being forced to re-iterate her nationalist credentials, Priyanka Chopra has come a long way. Chopra has been the symbol of Indian global aspirations since she won the Miss World crown in 2000. Her stints in international shows like Quantico and Hollywood productions such as Baywatch (2017) have been a matter of pride for Indians. But the recent fuss over the depiction of Hindus as terrorists has confirmed an unspoken adage: the existence of Hindu extremism simply isn’t possible?—?even in fiction.
Quantico, the American television drama thriller series, was cancelled last month, owing to low ratings. The episode (The Blood of Romeo) that aired on June 1, has effectively managed to anger the Indian fans beyond measure. To add to the wound, the episode was also littered with jokes about the India-Pakistan rivalry.
The Story-line That Disappoints: The episode featured a Hindu extremist conspiracy to set off a nuclear explosion in New York City ahead of an India-Pakistan peace summit. Alex Parrish (the name of Priyanka Chopra’s character in the series) foils the plot by spotting a rudraksha?—?prayer beads?—?on the perpetrator, identifying him as a Hindu.
For the benefit of everyone, Hindu nationalism, as well as the violence in Kashmir?—?which was the central issue of the summit targeted by the terrorist in Quantico?—?have been controversial topics in India.
Even though the Quantico is an American thriller series, one would imagine that this particular episode was the result of Abbas-Mastan-level writing and the inherent urge to blend plot twists upon plot twists. The plot twist resulted in widespread resentment among Indians on Twitter, some even branding Priyanka Chopra as anti-national and An Insult to India.
Mind you, these people belong to the same Indian film fraternity who applauded her acting skills and appreciated her role in Quantico. This whole incident confirms the fact that Indians still believe Chopra is some sort of an unofficial Indian ambassador and consider it Priyanka Chopra’s responsibility to defend India against plot twists.
This flimsy nationalism can be completely attributed to our inability to imagine Hindus as extremists. It’s also yet another example of the unfair expectations India has unceremoniously foisted on Priyanka Chopra’s shoulders. Despite the international prominence she has garnered over the past few years, time and again, like every other Indian actor, this Indian outrage, over The Blood of Romeo, rudely reminded Priyanka Chopra of the shallowness of Indian pride by her hyper-nationalist cousins back home.
Point to Ponder: The villains in Quantico include an Islamic terror group. ABC Studios has never expressed remorse for depicting terror plots led by Muslims. So, did Hindutva supporters pretermitted this fact or simply turned a blind eye?
There is practically nothing that can be done (for now). Priyanka Chopra and ABC Studios (both) have issued a public declaration of regret. Chopra has been compelled to reiterate her nationalist credentials. But it has failed to quell the anger Hindutva supporters have been harboring. So, as the proverb goes, only time will tell.
P.S. In the meantime, Priyanka Chopra can now only hope that her hyper-nationalist cousins understand the fact that Quantico is a work of fiction and the show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicity and backgrounds.