By Ishani Nath, guest blogger @ishaninath
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Disney’s newest animated adventure complete with a desi twist.
Released in theatres, Disney’s Planes is the story of a quirky crop-dusting plane, voiced by comedian Dane Cook, who dreams of overcoming his fear of heights and joining world of aerial racing. While the colourful characters and high-flying adventure are sure to pack the theatres with young audiences, what caught my eye was something that I had never heard before. My name on the big screen.
Voiced by super starlet Priyanka Chopra, Disney’s newest character, “Ishani,” is a Pan-Asian plane and racing champion from India described by Disney as “exotic and mysterious” with no less than “a billion loyal fans.”
Chopra was brought onto the project two years ago to play the yellow-red-and-decorated love interest to Cook’s character “Dusty,” and she says that she was drawn to the project because Ishani flew miles above clichéd portrayals of Indians.
“You know that stereotypical accent that most people see Indians speak with in movies? I was clear [with the filmmakers] that I didn’t want that,” says Chopra, 31, in an article with the NY Daily News.
Though Chopra was careful with her character in the 92-minute 3D animated film, “Ishani” also stays true to her roots making a stopover at the Taj Mahal and loop-de-looping through a Bollywood number.
“I wanted her to have an influence of where she comes from so I added a few words in and kept the accent very real without having it be too much,” the former Miss India and singer of recent hit “Exotic” told OK! Magazine. “I wanted her to be exotic and that was very important because she’s this hot and sexy plane that everyone thinks is really exotic.”
With Ishani flying onto screens this weekend, hopefully young Indians around the world will have a Disney personality to relate to other than the characters from the Jungle Book. Personally, I am just excited that I will have a new way of explaining my first name.
That feeling any Alex, John, Alice, or Mark must be familiar with is one that is foreign to me. Like Moon Unit Zappa, I have never met someone who shares my name.
Every introduction I make starts with “My name is Ishani. It’s like Ashanti. But not.” Though my title is phonetic, the uncommon collection of six letters always leaves people stumbling.
The name technically means “goddess,” and I consider Chopra’s character a blessing not only for desis but for Ishanis around the world.
“[She] is hot and sexy and she has this husky, sexy voice and she’s so adorable,” Chopra says of her character. “I was very excited when I actually went and saw some of the stuff I did. It’s like breathing air into a cartoon and that was so cool.”
Planes is now playing in theatres and with her “exotic” voice, Chopra is giving life to a new culture of Disney personalities. Hopefully, Disney’s “Ishani” will give desi characters the fuel to take off in Hollywood. First class.
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