Star was given licence to fill out the role of Sati…
By Mamie Colfox
FOR PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS and her fans this is a special moment.
She appears as the character Sati in one of the most successful franchise films in recent memory.
Her appearance in ‘The Matrix Resurrections’, the long- awaited fourth instalment of the franchise that began in 1999 puts her very firmly in the Hollywood firmament.
She has acknowledged as much herself saying what a thrill and honour it is for her to take her place alongside Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Playing an ostensibly South Asian character with a relevant cultural and historical backstory has also inspired her, she said.
Chopra Jonas remembers watching the first Matrix film at 17 years old. She was a huge fan of the franchise, so to become part of its legacy “was such an honour and so exciting”.
Reeves and Moss play the central protagonists, Neo and Trinity respectively and have been there from the very beginning.
When asked about working with Reeves and Moss, Chopra Jonas said: “They’re both such movie stars”, but are also “kind, compassionate and encouraging. It was so amazing seeing them together, they have this amazing friendship”.
Directed by Lana Wachowski and originally conceived by The Wachowskis (Lana & Lily) and owned by Warner Bros, the franchise has grossed billions and has a legion of film fans who will be packing theatres around the world to get their (coronavirus permitting) fix.
This is a franchise about the power of machines versus mankind. The Matrix is a new world order where the machines are in control and human agency is limited and its oppression and subjugation barely recognised.
Sati first appeared in ‘The Matrix Revolutions’, the most recent instalment to the latest and released in 2003.
Sati was a child in that film and reprised by Tanveer K Atwal – Chopra Jonas plays the adult character in “The Matrix: Resurrections”.
Her character is the daughter of two programmers, Kamala and Rama Kandra, who give the Oracle’s termination code in exchange for allowing their daughter into the Matrix as an exile – ie as a being with agency.
A product of love rather than programmed with a purpose, she is a character who is pathway between the virtual reality of the Matrix and a life as we might recognise it presently.
Warner Bros say Sati is a “young woman with a wisdom that belies her years and an ability to see the truth, no matter how murky the waters”.
‘The Matrix Resurrections‘ begins with Thomas Anderson (Neo) as he successfully develops the fourth The Matrix game. The lines begin to blur between video content and real life, and after he sees Tiffany (Trinity) at a coffee shop he is prescribed a blue pill to help with his hallucinations. In the films and popular culture, taking the blue pill is to live in contentment and ignorant bliss; take the red pill and a hard-edged reality dawns upon the swallower.
From that point in the film, things begin to shift. What Neo doesn’t realise is that the Matrix is far stronger and more dangerous than ever before.
According to Chopra, Wachowski prefers not to talk about character in the hope that the actors will interpret them as they like.
Chopra used this freedom to incorporate Sati’s Indian heritage as her younger self into her character, from her hair and makeup, to her clothing.
She explained: “The pants are like Indian dhoti and we used the borders of sarees for lots of outfit, even though she’s a warrior.
“So it was really cool to subtly incorporate those things into the physicality of who she is and then I just took the information I had in this movie and the information that was established in the previous movie, and sort of built her backstory.”
On influencing Sati’s character, she further eloborated: “My jacket has borders of saris in it. The pants that I’m wearing, we’ve tried to make it like a dhoti so that it has a very subtle homage to who she is, where she comes from, and how proud she feels about her heritage and culture.”
When casting the film, as well as ensuring it was entertaining, Wachowski wanted to be respectful of Asian cultural sources she was drawing from.
When asked about this, Chopra said the movies were very respectful: “To bring in Eastern philosophy, which I — having been raised in the East and grown up in India — feel like there’s something so powerful about the ancient wisdom that comes down, from cultures that are so old, and have been passed down from generation to generation.”
The name Sati is a Buddhist term for mindfulness, and Chopra sees this being reflected in her character: “She’s a program, but at the same time, the philosophy that she stands for is peace, humanity. And peace between humans and machines, and is that ever going to be possible?”
You decide, she might have added…
The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas worlwide now… (released December 22)