Exciting how entertainment goes beyond borders and language now: Priyanka Chopra Jonas on 'Citadel'

Bollywood star will be seen in spy drama that drops soon on an OTT platform


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Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas arrives for the premiere of 'The Matrix Resurrections'. Photo: AFP
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas arrives for the premiere of "The Matrix Resurrections". Photo: AFP

Published: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 2:16 PM

As someone who worked in the Hindi film industry for a long time before making a career in Hollywood, "Citadel" star Priyanka Chopra Jonas says it is exciting to be part of a series that is taking entertainment "beyond borders and language" through an intersection of stories from different countries.

"Citadel", an ambitious spy drama slated to debut on Prime Video on April 28, will act as the flagship show that will blend with local shows already under production in India and Italy, starring starring Matilda De Angelis, Varun Dhawan, and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, respectively.

Chopra Jonas spoke about the "cross pollination of cultures" in a global press conference in late February.

"It was so exciting to me as someone who worked for a very long time in a non-English medium to see the success of subtitled work in English language territories. But the ambition of this show, which was so attractive to me in the beginning, is kind of like the social experiment of it.

"If the flagship show is an English language, you have an Indian show, you have an Italian show, and the characters and the storylines kind of blend into each other," the Los Angeles-based actor said in the press conference.

The actor hopes this blend of stories will lead people to tune into shows of different languages.

"Like, are the audiences of the Italian show going to want to watch the Hindi language show where they have no similarity in language? That's so exciting and interesting to me, the cross pollination of cultures and how entertainment goes beyond borders and language now. It's just about storytelling… It's so cool," she added.

Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden in Prime Video series 'Citadel'
Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden in Prime Video series 'Citadel'

Produced by the Russo Brothers' (filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo) AGBO and showrunner David Weil, "Citadel" will premiere in multiple languages, including English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Chopra Jonas is paired opposite "Game of Thrones" star Richard Madden in the globe-trotting series on which David Weil servers as the showrunner.

In the show, Madden and Chopra Jonas play Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh. They are part of the independent global spy agency Citadel, which is tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people. But Citadel was destroyed by operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate manipulating the world from the shadows.

With Citadel's fall, the two elite agents had their memories wiped as they narrowly escaped with their lives. They've remained hidden ever since, building new lives under new identities, unaware of their pasts. Until one night, when Mason is tracked down by his former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), who desperately needs his help to prevent Manticore from establishing a new world order.

Mason and Nadia reunite and embark on a mission that takes them around the world in an effort to stop Manticore, all while contending with a relationship built on secrets, lies, and a dangerous-yet-undying love.

Chopra Jonas said she had a great collaborator in Madden. "We dance really well together. And this was just a really ambitious show. If we didn't have each other understanding what the other needed, this would have been hard to do." Talking about the action sequences in the series, the actor said she now has a "scar on my forehead" near her eyebrow.

"That's courtesy 'Citadel'. I don't even cover it anymore," she said, crediting producers Joe and Anthony Russo for bringing in the best stunt team for the series.

Chopra Jonas described the show as something that has "many layers and complexities" where "what you see is what you don't get".

"Everything is just conceptually crazy. It's just so exciting to be able to share it with the world because it's been a long time in the making, it's so ambitious," she added.

The actor said her character thrives under pressure.

"She has to hold her head up high while her character's changing, her life is changing all around her, but she has to stay centred.

"That makes her just very juicy as a character for me to play because every choice that is made by her is burdened and laden by so much pressure. And she thrives in it, so it was really wonderful," she said.

Priyanka Chopra in a scene from Prime Video series 'Citadel'
Priyanka Chopra in a scene from Prime Video series 'Citadel'

Madden said while his past character carries "a lot of scars" and "trauma", the new version has no baggage.

"There are huge set pieces in this, and that's something that's amazing to be part of. Not only that, but I think oftentimes, we see shows that are 80 per cent drama, 20 per cent action or vice versa. And this show aimed to be 100 per cent of both.

"That's what we've managed to pull off because in the middle of these huge sequences with explosions and cars blowing up... we have this really kind of intimate drama between these two characters and how they dance together," he said.

Joe Russo said they were lucky to have a great cast for a high-concept show like "Citadel".

"What Anthony and I really love about this is the high-concept of it. That both Richard and Priyanka get to play multiple versions of themselves. And this notion that their memories have been erased allows them to create new characters who then have to rediscover who they were." Weil said what's "beautiful and ambitious" about this spy universe is that they are creating it in tandem with partners all around the world.

"We have announced the India series, the Italy series. We get to work with these incredible writers, filmmakers, actors, and producers, truly from all around the world, and build this entire story together. So, it becomes this tapestry told in different languages through different cultures, in an authentic way," he said.

The India series is being directed by "The Family Man" creators Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK.

Anthony Russo also praised Chopra Jonas and Madden for their performances. "…They are playing two different versions of themselves with different sets of memories and how that processes in terms of their behaviour and their choices and their thoughts."

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