Priyanka Chopra Jonas
To write an honest autobiography one needs perspective. Perspective, that comes from distancing oneself from ones life events. Often, age creates that distance.
It brings fearlessness, a couldn’t-care-less attitude that allows one to be honest, brutally so. It allows one to name names, to call out people or practices or ideas. It allows one to admit ones mistakes, to look upon them with mellowed eyes, to feel genuinely sorry to or to laugh them away.
Those are the things that make for a good read and that’s where Unfinished loses out.
Priyanka, with her grit and her determination, as also her ability to stand up to all kinds of trolling and bullying, has always been inspirational. Everything about her seems to spell, ‘Say what you will, I’ll do my own thing’. To me, that’s the greatest kind of freedom anyone can ever aspire for. And that’s what prompted me to pick up her biography.
The book traces her childhood years in Indian, to the US through her HighSchool years and then back to India where she won the beauty pageants that changed her life.
The first half of the book is worth a read
She talks of her childhood, her special connection with her father and her glamorous no-nonsense mom. That image of her watching her mother getting ready to meet guests, applying makeup and spraying perfume — that is like watching a scene from my own childhood.
She writes with a special kind of warmth for her typically Indian extended family
I love how close knit they are. That’s exactly how it happened in the generation before nuclear families became the norm and relatives became ‘guests’.
She lived with her grandmother for some time, in a hostel for a while, then with her masi and mamu. And she thrived through it all. Her attitude of taking up each change as a new adventure remains her greatest strength.
The idea of Priyanka as a small-town girl is quite misplaced
Coming from an Army background with relatives in the US, whom she visited and lived with during her growing up years, spells of a privilege few can claim even now.
The end of her HighSchool years in India was followed by her journey through the Miss World beauty pageant and her entry into the Hindi film industry.
With that, the good part came to an end.
Descriptions of her experiences in the Hindi film industry are drab and spiritless
Honestly, as a bit of a Hindi film buff I had hoped for much much more from this section of her book. All I got were two or three very generic experiences and passing mentions of a few actors. That’s it.
I’d have loved to read what she thought of the industry as a relative outsider, when she entered it. How she learnt to understand and adapt to it and finally, to rule it. To my disappointment, there are no inside stories, no personal anecdotes, no talk of outdoor shoots, of friendships, romances or heartbreaks, nothing to hold a reader’s attention.
Her entry into Hollywood and everything that came after is also glossed over and super sanitised.
Her writing about her courtship and marriage is more a recounting of events than about what she thought and felt
It is with the same lack of soul that she talks of her courtship and marriage to Nick Jonas. It is more a recounting of events than about sharing what she thought and felt. That took away from much of the connect I’d felt with her at the beginning of the book.
The wedding is again an explanation of the rituals (probably for the Western readers). Also, I’d already heard/read most of it in her interviews. So there was nothing new there.
She did touch upon a few controversies but she left out some big ones like the article in ‘The Cut’, which was later pulled down.
She doesn’t talk of her deepest feelings – happy as well as hurtful ones. And that’s why her memoir lacks depth.
I have to add that I still admire her for her dogged determination, her drive to try new things and to step fearlessly into new arenas without worrying about failure.
But I will stick with my verdict that she wrote the book too early.
Last thought: Give this one a pass – wait for the real one that she’ll write when she’s seventy.