My queen, Priyanka Chopra is reportedly engaged to pop star Nick Jonas. As much as this news excites me, I can’t help but feel 5,000 more feelings than just excitement.
Chopra recently dropped a Bollywood movie she was expected to star in, and the director made some not-so-subtle hints that it was because of her relationship with Jonas. Maybe this means a wedding is happening soon and that’s great, but to me, this seems like one more way Chopra is distancing herself from Bollywood as she gains more traction in Hollywood.
As a Brown kid growing up in the diaspora, I spent my childhood struggling to fit into American society while my parents desperately wanted me to stay connected to our Indian roots. Now that I’m older (and wiser), I’m committed to remain connected to my heritage and make sure I don’t live just an American lifestyle. This is why Chopra’s relationship, and now engagement, with Jonas shook me to my core. Chopra represents the metaphorical bridge I have in my mind between American and Indian pop culture. Though connected, I view them as distinct and choose to engage with them in very different ways. For example, while I don’t really bother following most Hollywood relationships (obviously with the exception of Chopra and Jonas), I followed Sonam Kapoor’s wedding a little too closely and was waaaay too invested in every detail (#everydayphenomenal).
When I first heard that Chopra was going to play the main character in ABC’s new show “Quantico”, I was so excited. Seeing my childhood idol on American television was like a dream come true. When Chopra debuted on American television, I was hoping she would be like a bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood. But the news of her engagement to Jonas and pulling out of a Bollywood movie has made me feel like she’s officially joining Team Hollywood and leaving her Bollywood roots behind.
Also, can you blame me for being disappointed that she’s marrying a white dude? Chopra brought (more) international attention to one of the many Indian film industries (fun fact: there are at least 12 official film industries in India), and through her interviews, she is challenging people’s view of what life in India is like. Chopra’s presence in Hollywood is significant. It makes a statement and she makes it very clear she does not represent the entire Indian subcontinent nor is she willing to act in a stereotypical role. Her decision to play Alex Parrish – a role written with a white woman in mind – is proof of this. So it feels like Chopra’s decision to marry a white boy instead of a desi man is another statement she’s making to the world.
As happy as I am for her, I wonder how this will change the way Chopra is perceived. Some people say this is a “step up” for her, but just because someone works in Hollywood, that doesn’t mean they’re “making it.” In fact, in terms of numbers, the Bollywood film industry does better than Hollywood – Hollywood creates about 500 films a year while the Indian film industry creates over 1,000 – and Chopra was “making it” long before she dipped her toes in the American film industry. She had more successful movies under her belt prior to “Quantico” than some Hollywood actors have in an entire career.
Others are disappointed that Chopra hasn’t made more of a stand now that she’s a well-known Indian actress working in the United States. My response to this is simple: Not every icon who’s a person of color is going to be a champion of social justice and assuming they must is inherently problematic (we don’t assume every white icon is going to care about social issues).
Regardless of Chopra’s stand on different issues facing both the American and Indian film industries, her supposed engagement to Jonas still makes me feel all the feels and if it happens, this is a wedding I’ll definitely be following very closely.