By Reya Mehrotra
Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ memoir Unfinished presents the actor’s life story of many firsts, as well as her formula for success
“I was always out exploring, looking for adventure… to discover something that no one had found yet. I always wanted to be first,” says Priyanka Chopra Jonas in her memoir Unfinished. And indeed, hers turns out to be a story of many firsts. First positions in extracurricular activities in school, the first in her family to win Miss World, the first one in the family to not become an engineer or doctor, the first Indian star to switch careers at the peak to become a singer in the West, the first Indian actor-singer to become a global actor, producer, entrepreneur, investor. The list remains ‘unfinished’ because there are many more firsts to add. And that’s the reason why the actor has titled her memoir, published by Penguin Random house, Unfinished.
Perhaps it was her competitive spirit and drive to win that drove her to the road less travelled. The actor carries confidence on her sleeve, opening avenues for others. She believes in leading by example, be it winning a pageant, entering Bollywood as an ‘outsider’, becoming a singer or starring in American TV series, films, etc. In fact she can’t stop talking about the explosion of talent, thanks to the emergence of OTT platforms — one of these talents is Adarsh Gourav, who starred in The White Tiger, a film co-produced by Purple Pebble Pictures, her production company. Not just that, Chopra has even gone on to produce notable regional content.
It is true that an actor reveals a part of their self in their characters. And so, Meghna Mathur’s ambition, Mary Kom’s grit and Neha’s poise together make Priyanka Chopra Jonas. But just as the 11 chapters of her memoir portray “some of who she is”, as she mentioned during the Jaipur Literature Festival, these characters define only part of who she is.
The actor has broken stereotypes not just in her professional life, but in her personal life as well. Take, for instance, her decision to marry a man 10 years younger than her, or when she asked her mother to walk her down the aisle.
Apart from presenting the incredibly ambitious story of a woman who wants to achieve it all, Unfinished has a strong underlying theme of a parenting guide. Her parents, who dominate the narrative, come across as ultimate teachers who walked her onto the path of success. “Be like water. Find the best situation wherever you are and make it work”; “You can become whoever you want to be. That’s your superpower”; “Own your choices” are just some of the wise words her parents spoke to her. “Each of my parents is an example of the kind of parent I want to be someday, one who sees their child as an individual,” she says in her story.
One thing is clear: her spirit is unstoppable. Nothing, not even the pandemic, could stop her from marching ahead-she, in fact, wrote her memoir during the lockdown. Not just that, she launched her venture Bumble India two days after her wedding and wrapped up movies and shows simultaneously in two different parts of the world. There are, of course, occasional downtimes, like the lingering grief that her father’s demise left, which she did not deal with and that came back to haunt her. But she carries on.
It is the concluding chapter of the memoir, however, that reads like a dream. The author envisions her abode-a room bustling with her energy, with children, both hers and that of acquaintances, with family and friends finding their own spots, and an intimate space for her and her husband Nick Jonas to realise shared dreams. And as Chopra daydreams of a future where she would tell her story to the children in her house, one can imagine her repeating the golden lines: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.”