“Working with talent like Priyanka Chopra and Lady Gaga has been a blessing”

Anjula Acharia-Bath has many achievements to her credit. Among them:  founding, bringing Lady Ga-Ga to India,  helping Pussycat Dolls collab with AR Rahman, and appearing on both Vanity Fair’s Next Establishment list and Billboard’s Top 40 Women in Music

But her latest tour de force is something which could be a game changer for Indian talent in Hollywood. As manager of Priyanka Chopra, she has played a key role in the waves that the Bollywood star is making in the US in her debut series on ABC -  Quantico. Chopra plays Alex Parrish, a FBI trainee-turned agent-on-the-run, in the series which is topping the viewership charts in the US.

Born to Pubjabi immigrant  parents in the UK, Anjula is increasingly being talked of as the must-talk-to professional for bridging international and Indian entertainment. The lady, who jetsets and parties with Hollywood’s biggest producers (Jimmy Iovine, the founder of Interscope Records invested in desihits) , directors, show-runners, musicians was recently appointed as a partner at venture capital firm Trinity Ventures. spoke to Anjula to understand how Quantico happened, how she functions as a manager and many other topics.

Read on:

How did you meet Priyanka?

Priyanka and I initially met through Salim and Sulaiman (Merchant) via Devraj Sanyal who was working with me at Desi Hits at that time. 


Priyanka's moving into Hollywood began with her music releases, followed by TV series. Was it by design or did it just happen?  What was your role in this strategy?

It was definitely a strategy. I had this thought that we would have to tear down the pillars of western pop culture. It started with Football (NFL) including music collaborations (Will.I.AM & Pitbull), fashion (GUESS GIRL) , film (Disney Planes) and now the biggest driver of pop culture in America is hit TV shows! Think Scandal, Game of Thrones, Homeland , all these shows dictate pop culture and I wanted PC to be a part of that.  


Priyanka, though she has the right credentials - a Miss World, a Bollywood star - was unknown amongst the biggies in Hollywood. How long were you working on getting her the right entry before the chance meeting with Kelli Lee in Ron Myer's house which led to the series on ABC?

I wasn’t working too long. I have a lot of access to incredible people who wanted to join this journey with Priyanka and I.

Was ABC your only stop? Or did you make others?

No. Though we had offers from other studios, ABC was our first choice because they really had mastered on creating strong diverse female characters


Lee flew down to India to get Priyanka sign the deal. What convinced Priyanka to do so because she probably was busy with her Indian projects too?

I think a lot of very influential people talked to Pee Cee about the opportunity. But when she met Kelli, she felt very comfortable with the way things were to be handled and was happy to understand that her ideas and views would be heard.

What does being Priyanka's manager in the competitive artist management world of Hollywood entail? 

A lot. I would say that the three main skills a manager should possess are deep lasting connections, a relentless nature and a passion that goes beyond simply making money.  Priyanka is a passion project for me. I work full time for a VC Fund (Trinity Ventures). I think the skills required in our business are the same – the ability to identify talent, which is an entrepreneurial role; next is to help them build an incredible company, bringing meaningful connections and sticking next to the entrepreneur when things get tough. 


There are so many other Indian actors who have gone to  Hollywood. But Priyanka seems to have got an ideal platform: a chunky meaty lead role, great promotion all over the US. How did you manage that?

We just showcased her talent and made the right connections. 

You have collaborated on bringing other big US stars like Lady Ga Ga  to India and AR Rahman and PussyCat . Which way is more challenging - India to the US or the US to India? And why?

I think India to the US for sure, simply because western pop culture travels across the globe more fluidly.  Bollywood had a lot of penetration across the world (40% of revenue is outside of India) but language is a bigger barrier. 


Do you see yourself in the role of taking many more Indian artistes into Hollywood or are Priyanka and Trinity your focus now? What advise would you give other Indians - whether musicians or actors - wanting to enter Hollywood? 

Trinity and Priyanka don’t leave much spare time for me. I am passionate about tech stars and pop stars! My advice to Indian talent is to use the web as much as possible to get the word out – drive your social media engagement.  Then, when you have created enough critical property for yourself, find someone who believes in you and is relentless about championing you.  Like I said it, finding the right investor is a very important factor. 

 Sofia Vergara is amongst the highest earning actors in the US. And she is amongst the diversity stars that you and Lee talked about in the Forbes interview. Do you see Priyanka heading in that direction of being in the league of the highest paid too? 

Yes I do. Priyanka is one of the most incredible talents I have ever met; and I have met a lot. She is a triple treat. She dances, sings and acts and in addition to that, she is ridiculously beautiful inside and out. 

 The buzz is that she is getting a talk show. Is that true? If yes, then why a talk show? Why not a big Hollywood film?

You can’t believe all the rumors you hear ;-) stay tuned!

 How is your association with Trinity panning out? Do you welcome pitches or do you go around scouting for places to park investments? And is it just seed capital or is it large tranches of capital? What do you look for in projects? And what happens after you find one you like? The process from liking to getting the funds to the enterprise, what does the entrepreneur have to do?

 We invest primarily in series A and B companies mainly based out of the USA. Every partner here has his or her specialty area on which they draw upon their expertise and network to assess the investment opportunity. Then they bring it to the table for full partnership approval.  Everyone is different in their approach but personally I look for deals that solve a particular problem with founders that I think are stars! Trinity has a long term view on entrepreneurs which is something I really subscribe to; it’s very much about relationships. 


Would you consider proposals  from young entrepreneurs from India - especially women - who have kickass local and global ideas? What advise would you give them?

 On a personal level yes, I love hearing from women entrepreneurs who have unique and powerful ideas.   


Your journey from England to the mainstream of Hollywood to Silicon Valley has been interesting. What kept you going? And where do you see yourself in the next three to five years? 

I think my desire to grow and nurture talent is something that has been a theme throughout my life in different iterations.  I love connecting with people at a human level. My passion is interacting with people. Your enjoyment in life is all about the company you keep – that’s a truth for me.  My faith is a big part of everything I do; I want to make positive changes in the world and that’s a focus I have tried never to stay away from.  Working with talent like Priyanka and of course Lady Gaga has been a blessing from that perspective – they both have an agenda and drive to make a difference and that is everything.

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