Ahead of the virtual launch of Anomaly in India, Priyanka Chopra Jonas looks the picture of calm. Her famous tresses are draped over one shoulder as she perches on a red velvet Baroque-style couch. But beneath the surface, the actor-producer-entrepreneur is wistful. The timing of her haircare brand launch in India coincides with the birth anniversary of her late father, who was her biggest cheerleader. She admits, “The timing was actually a coincidence but I also believe that there is nothing like coincidences… it just feels serendipitous that Anomaly comes homes during my dad’s birth anniversary.”
Priyanka recalls a childhood of sitting between her grandmother’s knees on the floor and her hair and scalp being generously massaged with various oils – almond, coconut, the works – and feeling ready to sleep after the session. These memories have informed her take on beauty, life, and, now, motherhood – she and her husband musician Nick Jonas welcomed a baby girl in January via surrogacy. The family, till date, has mindfully kept mum – no pun intended – about their daughter Maltie Marie, wanting privacy. When a gentle question is posed about her daughter, she passes on it.
Building her brand
Anomaly follows Priyanka’s philosophy of ‘make for the South Asian, by the South Asian’. “I was raised on these age-old regimens and continue to use them till today both in my own personal hair and skin care routines,” she explains, “Like for example, oiling is the best thing for your hair but my oiled hair was mocked too when I was young. But now, my hair is one of the things I’m known by… so I say let’s take back the power from our tormentors!”
Having just turned 40, the actor continues to reinvent herself. Her pandemic brainchildren include Anomaly and Sona, a trendy Indian restaurant in the middle of Manhattan. “[The pandemic] gave me the opportunity to pause, to build on the many ideas I’ve had, to give something time to build and grow, not just in my head but through discussion and dialogue,” she says, “And when you stop running, in the pursuit of everything you are doing in your life, you see things so differently. Also, in the pandemic, it was not just you as an individual that stopped but pretty much the entire world, and that was so scary but also eye opening in so many ways.”
Sona’s Michelin connect
With Sona, Priyanka took Rock Shrimp Koliwada, Malabar-style chicken biryani, and kofta korma to New York last year. Soon, the restaurant – visited by the likes of Sophie Turner, Mindy Kaling, Kal Penn, Farhan Akhtar and Katrina Kaif – will be among 30 new NYC restaurants (across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Westchester County) that will be added to the world-famous Michelin Guide. Other September additions of the Guide include Al Coro, Melissa Rodriguez and Jeff Katz’s Italian fine dining spot; South Indian restaurant Semma, among others. The awards will be announced on October 6 at a ceremony at Hudson Yards fine dining restaurant Peak.
Grandma’s haircare secrets
We cannot help but sneak in a cheeky ask about her close friend and fellow Indian diaspora champion Deepica Mutyala whose makeup brand LiveTinted has long been in demand in India. Excited at the mention of Deepica, she reveals nothing: “Actually, it’s so funny you mentioned it. Deepica and I have recently spoken about her coming to India. I can’t wait.”
“We built this brand on the idea that great hair starts first with great care, something I learned from my mom and grandmom during regular oiling, deep cleaning and conditioning routines they did for me as a kid. It helped me build a great foundation for my hair.”
Priyanka chuckles as she recalls her husband and his brothers, Joe and Kevin, had proven themselves to be “perfect test bunnies” for Anomaly. “My husband has great hair – but like me, he has put it through so much product and hot styling tool usage,” she admits. “I remember the first time he used the shampoo and conditioner… he spent a lot of time just running his hands through his hair because he was just blown away by how soft and clean his hair felt.”
And there are many such stories indeed. Priyanka is in post-production for her upcoming miniseries Citadel, and is in pre-production for action film Ending Things, co-starring Anthony Mackie, and she is gearing up for production for Cowboy Ninja Viking alongside Chris Pratt.
Clearly, conscious consumption sits at the core of her approach to all verticals of her work. An entrepreneurial storyteller, as shown in The Sky is Pink, The White Tiger and other production endeavours, Priyanka urges audiences to be mindful of the type of entertainment by which they are mediated. She muses for a bit before concluding: “I think we need to recognise that as consumers we not only have the power but also the responsibility. As with anything, it is about demand and supply… if you demand a certain kind of content and support it by going into theatres or streaming it, then more such stories will be told.”