Priyanka Chopra Jonas is an icon for all who dared to dream and for those who dared not; for all who tried and failed, and particularly for those who never tried for fear of failure. She has done it all. She dreamt, she attempted; she feared, she overcame; she was rejected and then unexpectedly accepted. Was it destiny or carefully laid out plans, sheer grit, or her refusal to accept failure – or is there a formula to her amazing success story? In this chat with us at the Times Lit Fest, Priyanka shares it all:
Priyanka, your mom has famously called you a bit of a rolling stone. But you seem to have found your peace. Has Priyanka Chopra Jonas finally found her groove, or is she a bit unfinished still?
I think I finally found my roots. I always had a groove! But we are all works in progress. We change every day, we evolve. There’s a lot I want to do and have in my life going forward. I’ve left a lot of unfinished things in my life and moved on, when I felt they were not going as I wanted – and it’s okay to do that. But today, I can give my younger self a hug and say, it’s okay for all those times when you were sad and cried… I’ve done this. And now it’s time to find solace in where I am, a sense of contentment, and confidence in my craft. I’m very confident in what I bring to the table now, unlike what I was, of course, when I was starting out.
What prompted you to write your memoir? Most people leave it till much later. Did this process help give you a new perspective of yourself? I’ve been a very private person in my life. Being home for six months during COVID helped me dig deep. So, once I decided to write my memoir, I had to plan whether I was just going to skim the surface as I have done for the last 20 years of being in entertainment or go deeper. I chose to dig deep. I just wanted people to know me. I wanted to give people an insight into what my truth for me is.
When you faced racism in your American school, you moved out… When Bollywood put up fences and you lost good movies, you looked for roles that others would not covet. Was moving away from your chosen path of least resistance, rather than fighting to the finish?
Sometimes the best way to prove that you can do something is by doing it. By fighting a fight that has existed for ever, you may neglect the opportunity of trying another route. I always have multiple plans. I don’t get defined by one failure. It is like if I am trekking and see a large boulder in front of me. Instead of picking at it I’ll try to go around it. It is the same with fences and ceilings that have been created for women, for people, in every field. You have to work around these.
It looks like I’m the person who’s choosing everything in my life, but it’s not true. I’m just like anybody else. I have spent a lot of time invested in things which were just not working, and I just stayed and stayed, but at some point, you have to choose yourself. Like, when I take my music, for example, I stayed to try it, but I had to recognise when it was not living up to my standards. I knew that it was futile to spend more time there and that’s important to understand.
When you talk about love, you confess that you made the mistake of trying to change according to people’s expectations, of giving too much of yourself. What are the lessons that love has taught you?
I really believe love makes the world go round. For me, love over anything! And the only way to love is deeply and fully and to give yourself completely. The one thing that my marriage has definitely taught me – something I
earlier didn’t even feel the need to have, but which I can’t live without now – is having my partner give complete credence and credit to the job that I do, to my work. It’s so amazing when I see how Nick accommodates his life for my achievements or my career and my choices.
Has having been married to Nick changed you in some way as a person?
He has impacted me in a big way. I’ve become a lot calmer in life. I would bite people’s heads off. My husband is a calm person, and he finds solutions. He’s a diplomat, whereas I’m just like a mirchi! If I go off, I go off. I have learnt a lot from Nick. He’s an amazingly talented, creative person and we bounce a lot of our work off each other and then we develop things together. So, having a creative partnership with your partner is amazing.
Is there any Bollywood movie of yours that Nick has watched or loves watching again and again?
We both didn’t know very much about each other’s careers, so after we got married, we did sort of show and tell — he showed me his earlier music work, and I showed him a few of my movies, but Nick loves Dil Dhadakne Do. He has watched it multiple times!