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Chopra was born in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand to Ashok Chopra and Madhu Akhauri, both physicians by profession. Chopra spent her childhood in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh; Newton, Massachusetts; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her father was in the army and thus her family moved quite frequently. Her father hailed from a family of Punjabi origin, settled in Bareilly and her mother comes from a family settled in Jamshedpur. She also has a brother, Siddharth, who is seven years younger than she is. Chopra studied at La Martiniere Girls' School in Lucknow as a young girl. These frequent re-locations took place as her father was a physician in the Indian Army. She subsequently re-located to the U.S. where she studied in Newton South High School in Newton, Massachusetts and then in John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She returned to India and did her high school at Army School in Bareilly. She began college at Jai Hind College in Mumbai but left after winning the Miss World pageant. Chopra came in second place at Femina Miss India 2000 competition winning the Femina Miss India World title and subsequently being sent to Miss World where she was crowned Miss World 2000. In the same year, Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza, both also from India, won the Miss Universe and Miss Asia Pacific crowns respectively, in a rare triple victory for one country. When Chopra won the Miss World crown, she became the fifth Indian woman to win the title, and the fourth Indian woman to win in a span of seven years. On December 12, 2009, Chopra was present as a judge for the Miss World 2009 competition held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Chopra made her debut in the 2002 Tamil film Thamizhan playing the role of Priya, the love interest of the protaginist in the film played by Vijay. The film was praised for its wit, although the depth of Chopra's character was seen as lacking. In 2003, she appeared in her first Bollywood film, opposite Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta in the Anil Sharma film The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. She played a supporting role as a doctor named Shaheen in a film The New York Times described as "ripping its text from the seething border tensions between India and Pakistan, spicing its conflict with hot-tempered religious zealots bent on nuclear havoc". Despite being one of the highest grossing films of that year, the overall film was not well received by critics, Chopra was awarded mostly good reviews for her debut Hindi performance. Later that year she appeared in Raj Kanwar's Andaaz, playing the character of Jiya who falls in love with Raj Malhotra, played by Akshay Kumar. The film was a considerable box office success, earning her a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award and a nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Rediff.com said of her role, "Priyanka clicks with the audience thanks to her skimpy outfits". Her next few films released in 2004 like Plan, Kismat and Asambhav performed poorly at the box office. Later that year she appeared in David Dhawan's romantic comedy Mujhse Shaadi Karogi playing the role of a young fashion designer Rani along with Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, the film turned out to be the third highest grossing film of that year. She next starred in Aitraaz. It was her first negative role. Her performance won critical acclaim and earned a Filmfare Best Villain Award. She also received a second nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for the role. In the same year, she participated in a world tour titled Temptations 2004 with other Bollywood actors, including Shahrukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal. In 2005, she starred in Blackmail, Karam, Waqt: The Race Against Time, Yakeen, Barsaat and Bluffmaster, none of which performed well at the box office. In 2006, Chopra starred in two of the most successful films of the year - Krrish and Don - The Chase Begins Again. Then in 2007 she starred in Nikhil Advani's ensemble piece, Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute To Love. The movie failed to do well at the box office. Chopra's next release, Big Brother also underperformed. In 2008, Chopra featured in six films. Her first four films, Love Story 2050, God Tussi Great Ho, Chamku and Drona, failed to do well. Chopra's fifth release of the year, Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion was a critical success. The film revolved around the fashion world and Chopra's role was that of an ambitious model. Her performance in the film was appreciated and earned her several awards for Best Actress including the Filmfare Best Actress Award. Music India Online said of her performance, "Her transformation from the bubbly Chandigarh girl to the super-ambitious supermodel, who dumps her boyfriend and conscience to pursue her dreams, is achieved with a gentle subtlety and bridled passion. This is Priyanka’s coming-of-age film. She looks like a zillion bucks. And acts like a woman who connects with the darkest, most desperate human emotions without wallowing in them." Chopra's final release of the year was Tarun Mansukhani's romantic comedy Dostana. The film was a moderate financial success. In 2009 she appeared in Vishal Bharadwaj's Kaminey alongside Shahid Kapoor playing a marathi girl named Sweety. Her performance in the film was described by critic Taran Adarsh: "Priyanka is first-rate. She's so much in sync with her character. Also, she gets the Maharashtrian accent perfect". She subsequently appeared in Ashutosh Gowariker's What's Your Raashee?, a film in which Chopra became the first actress in the world to portray 12 characters on screen. The film was a financial and critical failure. In early 2010, Chopra appeared in Jugal Hansraj's Pyaar Impossible where she portrayed the role of a college beauty who eventually falls in love with a geek. Chopra is currently working on Sajid Nadiadwala's Anjaana Anjaani and Vishal Bharadwaj's Saat Khoon Maaf in which she plays the role of a woman with seven husbands.