Priyanka Chopra (L) and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy (R) pose for pictures (Images courtesy AFP)

Priyanka Chopra’s description of Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy as “South Asian” has offended many from the director’s home country, including actor Adnan Siddiqui. Priyanka has been at the forefront of efforts to increase visibility for South Asian artistes in Hollywood and international cinema; among other things, she organizes a pre-Oscar event in Los Angeles to honour South Asian excellence and achievers in the world of cinema – which Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy attended this year. Ms Obaid Chinoy, who directed two episodes of Ms Marvel, starring a South Asian cast and partly set in Pakistan, will helm an untitled Star Wars film, it was announced about a week ago.

Priyanka Chopra posted an Instagram Story congratulating the filmmaker, writing: “First person of colour and first woman to direct a Star Wars film… And she’s South Asian!! What a historic moment Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. So so proud of you my friend. May the force be with you!”

Pakistani actor Adnan Siddiqui, familiar to Indian audiences from his role in Sridevi’s last film MOM, was among those who took offence at Priyanka’s failure to specify Ms Obaid Chinoy’s nationality. Over the weekend, he tweeted: “With due respect, Priyanka Chopra, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is a Pakistani first just to brush up your knowledge. Much like the way you flaunt your Indian nationality whenever you get the opportunity before claiming to be a South Asian.” Mr Siddiqui offered no instances of Priyanka Chopra having “flaunted” her Indian identity as he put it.

In the comments thread, several verified handles of Pakistani nationality or origin agreed. Writer Faisal Kapadia wrote: “Sharmeen is a Pakistani and she should be called that.” Journalist Anis Farooqui replied to Adnan Siddiqui, “Very true Adnan bro.” Filmmaker Shahnawaz Zali, however, begged to differ: “Nothing wrong being called a South Asian (which we are and proud) maybe you should just appreciate things when they are said rather than always and consistently trying to find flaws in it.” Across Twitter, those criticizing Priyanka Chopra called her a bigot and worse.

See Adnan Siddiqui’s post here:

Priyanka Chopra has not responded and neither has Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. In March, she posted a group photo from Priyanka’s pre-Oscars event also featuring Malala Yousafzai, singer Ali Sethi, Queer Eye‘s Tan France and others of Pakistani origin. In her caption to the picture, Ms Obaid Chinoy self-identifies as South Asian twice (as well as Pakistani), writing: “It was an emotional night for many of us in LA…In 2012 when I was at the Oscar’s there were Three South Asians! A decade later over a 100 of us came together to celebrate South Asians in cinema…and amongst us were so many Pakistanis…I watched Saim get up on stage and make a speech about Joyland- Malala spoke about her support for cinema & Ali Sethi brought the house down with Pasoori…And I will proudly say that as the only South Asian woman with two Academy Awards there was so much love for that achievement! This is our time & we have arrived!”

See her post here:

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is the winner of two Best Documentary Short Subject Oscars for her films Saving Face and A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness.

Priyanka Chopra currently stars in the Russo Brothers-made series Citadel, with credits such as Quantico, the Baywatch film, and The Matrix Resurrections on her international resume.

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