Priyanka Setia worked as a flight attendant but wanted to fly higher. Living in Pitampura, Priyanka had her office in Janpath and loved to shop at CP, Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar. “Those years of my life, a stage when a person begins to understand what they are doing and what they want to do, were spent in Delhi. I was a pukka Dilli ki ladki. Now when I visit the city, I see how much has changed, from the airport to the roads,” she says.
She was also modelling at that time. When someone suggested that she head to Mumbai as she had a ‘commercial face’, she didn’t think twice. But in Mumbai, what fascinated her initially was not films but theatre. “I loved flying as I was paid well and was getting to travel across the world but somehow it wasn’t giving me creative satisfaction. So, I took the risk of trying something new. I had no plans, I didn’t know anyone when I moved to the Mumbai as a 25-year-old. Even though I had not spoken a single line on stage or given any auditions, theatre drew me towards it. And thankfully, the audience and artistes began to like my work. In no time, I started getting a lot of work in theatre,” reminisces Priyanka, who is a cast member of Vagina Monologues, one of the longest running plays in the country.
Priyanka didn’t have any ambition of entering Bollywood. “A friend who had gone for the audition of Hawaizaada suggested me to go for it. I went and got a role in the film. I did another film with Tabu and Manoj Bajpayee, which is yet to release. My third film Begum Jaan released before it,” she says. But both Hawaizaada and Begum Jaan didn’t do well at the box office. Though the actress felt bad, she was happy to play the characters she was offered. “From a meek homemaker in one film to a fierce lady in another, the two characters were very different and I feel blessed that I got to play them. An actor obviously feels bad when the movie doesn’t work but there are many other reasons why a film fails to click. You can only draw positives from a film and move ahead,” says.
She adds, “Main Bombay heroine banne nahi aayi thi. I played a mother in my first film. People warned me against doing so but I didn’t care. A good role is a good role. I would love it if someone casts me as the lead but I will play a good character role with equal happiness. I don’t believe that stereotypes exist. Your good work gets you more work. Someone like Swara Bhaskar played a mother in Nil Battey Sannata and went on to play a glamorous role in Anarkali of Aarah. It’s the talent that counts.”
Priyanka just finished shooting for Haseena: The Queen of Mumbai. “Shraddha Kapoor is very hardworking. She is like a cute bubbly girl on the sets and hardly has any tantrums. She is very compassionate as she cares about other people on the sets. The director Apoorva Lakhia is also a wonderful person,” says Priyanka who is playing a lawyer in the film.
Talking about her personal life, Priyanka met Honey Trehan regarding casting and soon their common love for Punjabi literature brought them closer. With mounting family pressure to get married, Priyanka popped the question to Honey. Initially hesitant as he wasn’t ready for marriage, he just couldn’t afford to lose Priyanka and married her.
Being an actress and wife of a famous casting director-cum-producer, Priyanka at times finds herself on a sticky wicket. “We don’t go around telling people that we are husband and wife. Only when the director selects me on the basis on my audition do we reveal about us being married. I don’t have any expectations from him. When I came to Mumbai, I had no Honey in my life. I made it on my own. And I am not his daughter or little sister that he is liable to launch me. Even if you see star kids, their lineage might get them first few projects but it has to be their work that sustains them,” she says, adding, “I don’t seek work on his name. He doesn’t recommend me to others and go around promoting me. The biggest difficulty is that other casting directors don’t offer me work thinking that Honey will give me work.”