'I'm a proud Indian': Priyanka Chopra responds to backlash over Quantico's latest terrorism storyline
Quantico star Priyanka Chopra is apologizing after backlash over the show's recent storyline involving India, Pakistan and terrorism.
"I'm extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico," the actress, 35, posted on Twitter Saturday. "That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologize. I'm a proud Indian and that will never change."
I’m extremely saddened and sorry that some sentiments have been hurt by a recent episode of Quantico. That was not and would never be my intention. I sincerely apologise. I'm a proud Indian and that will never change.—@priyankachopra
The episode, called The Blood of Romeo, aired in the U.S. June 1 and in India June 6. It saw Chopra's FBI agent character, Alex Parrish, uncover a plot by Indian nationalists to frame Pakistan for a planned nuclear attack on New York during a summit between the two countries.
Since the vast majority of Pakistan is Muslim, Parrish discovers the trick after finding a religious Hindu symbol around one of the assailant's necks, leading to the Indian connection.
It provoked outrage from a significant number of people online — including many Indian fans — who called the idea "derogatory" and "nonsensical."
What the hell was this episode of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Quantico?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Quantico</a> .. they tried to show ‘Indian nationalists’ (their term) trying to blow up Manhattan to frame Pakistan.. I don’t even know what sort of ridiculous narrative was this episode trying to set.. nonsensical stuff..—@ask0704
Not just unfair but utterly shameful that Priyanka Chopra is part of something so derogatory against a country which made her a superstar and helped her win the crown of Ms. World <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Quantico?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Quantico</a>—
Some critics accused the show's writers of stereotyping and not understanding the complicated relationship between India and Pakistan. ABC issued a statement Friday to address the controversy.
"Quantico is a work of fiction," the network said. "The show has featured antagonists of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, but in this case we inadvertently and regrettably stepped into a complex political issue. It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone."
Anger over the content is boiling over in other ways too.
Sharbari Zohra Ahmed, a former Quantico writer and a Bangladeshi-American, is being targeted even though she didn't write the episode and hasn't worked on the show since its first season.
"I guess I'm the only Muslim-sounding name, because that's what keeps coming up when people attack me [online]," she said in a phone interview. "It was non-stop. It was bad."
Bad enough, Ahmed says, that she asked us not to disclose the city in which she currently lives.
The series about FBI recruits and agents is currently wrapping up its third and final season. Ratings have dwindled since it debuted in 2015.
Mumbai-born Chopra, the face of the show — and a high-profile figure who has made the rare, successful crossover from Indian cinema to Hollywood — was targeted for not doing more after seeing the script. ABC, however, said in its statement the actress shouldn't be blamed.
"The episode has stirred a lot of emotion, much of which is unfairly aimed at Priyanka Chopra, who didn't create the show, nor does she write or direct it."
Ahmed says she supports creative licence and imaginative storytelling but "living in a socio-political environment that's highly charged," writers who have a mainstream platform need to stay informed.
"It doesn't mean that we shouldn't write what we want," she said. "But we should do it understanding what the implications can be."