Oscars 2016 is over, but for us Indians, the hangover is likely to last a few days more. The reason? More than anything else, Priyanka Chopra on the red carpet, Priyanka Chopra on the Oscars stage, Priyanka Chopra among Hollywood biggies, Priyanka Chopra at the after-party… In a nutshell, Priyanka Chopra.Priyanka Chopra’s presence at the 88th Annual Academy Awards made for netizens going berserk in the real sense of the term. And no, this isn’t just hearsay or a statement being made for the sake of it. Google Oscar searches from all over the world had Priyanka Chopra ranking a close second – just behind (who else) Leonardo DiCaprio.Priyanka Chopra’s breakthrough in the international market happened with ABC’s TV series Quantico, where the actor was roped in to play the lead role. If that had PC taking over America, Oscars had her conquering it. Her appearance on the red carpet was loved by most people; Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all had people singing paeans to Priyanka.On the red carpet, when asked whether she was nervous before walking to the stage and presenting an award, Chopra’s response was, “I just don’t want to screw up someone’s name, you know.” And had she practiced speaking all those names? “Yes, I did. Thank God yesterday I had to pre-record the names of the nominees…”In addition to discussing her dress and Quantico with news channels, Priyanka taught how to pose on the red carpet, she also answered one of those questions that had been plaguing the Academy ever since the Oscars 2016 nominees were announced this year: (Lack of) Diversity. “I just think that art shouldn’t be defined by the colour of your skin,” was Priyanka’s curt, nail-on-the-head answer.And indeed, Priyanka’s appearance on the Oscars 2016 stage did manage to act as a face-saver of sorts for the Academy, given the storm it has been the centre of for more than a month now. #OscarsSoWhite the hashtag read since the nominees were announced. People of colour boycotted the event, but host Chris Rock did his best to slam the Academy over its so-white stance.
On the stage, Kerry Washington pointed out how TV in America “had done better with inclusion,” read the New York Times review of Oscars 2016. Another NYT piece also said how critique was built into the production of the show. “Most of the nonwhite presenters are on ABC television shows (Kerry Washington, Sofia Vergara, Priyanka Chopra) or from other countries where, in the cases of Ms Chopra and Lee Byung-hun, who presented the foreign-language Oscar with Ms Vergara, they are actual movie stars.”As far as Priyanka Chopra is concerned then, the actor perhaps did more good to the Academy with her presence on the stage than the other way round. And as an icing on the cake (or the entire cake, if you will), Priyanka planted Bollywood – and by extension, India – at the Oscars. For probably never has a Bollywood star commanded such interest in her (or him) at the Oscars. Say what you might, one cannot take that away from this Desi Girl.Recommended: Oscars 2016: The Complete Coverage