By Anya Shukla
Review: After her success as the leading lady in ABC’s “Quantico,” a string of superhit Bollywood movies, and her highly-publicized wedding, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has become a household name in both India and America. In “Unfinished,” her 2021 memoir, the former Miss World attempts to provide an insider’s look at her life.
There are personal moments—the race-related bullying that she faced in America, her feelings of isolation as a darker-skinned girl in a colorist country, her father’s death—that inspire sympathy. Yet for the most part, “Unfinished” reads like a recycling of publicly available information about Chopra Jonas rather than a peek behind the curtain. The memoir’s tone often feels removed, preventing a reader from truly connecting to the author and her experiences. Rating: 2.5/5.
What I Didn’t Love: Even though there are emotional moments, this book feels surface-level. Chopra Jonas keeps you at a distance; her writing style is detached and formal.
She spends time detailing her resume rather than sharing information about her inner thoughts. A 100+ word example: “Almost simultaneously, on the heels of ‘Fashion’’s success, came my next commercial blockbuster, ‘Dostana.’ The feel-good romantic comedy opened two weeks after the much darker tale of Meghna Mathur, and audiences loved this story of two guys who pretend to be gay in order to secure an apartment in Miami, only to both fall madly in love with their roommate/landlady, played by me. Starring John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan, directed by Tarun Mansukhani—still one of my closest friends today—and produced by Dharma Productions, an A-list production house, the movie became a runaway success. It featured the catchy hit song ‘Desi Girl’ with music by Vishal-Shekhar and lyrics by Kumaar” (pg. 130-131). To me, this reads like a Wikipedia summary. I want more info about Chopra Jonas’ feelings, please! Did this movie and its success affect her emotionally? What did she learn from the experience? How did she build working relationships with her co-stars? Providing answers to these kinds of questions would paint a richer picture of Chopra Jonas' rise to fame.
On a similar note, she tends to skip what I would consider crucial information. A pageant newbie, Chopra Jonas didn’t think she would win her first local contest: “But that night as the competition wore on, I felt my limitations especially intensely. I knew I was a long shot. It’s not that I was lacking confidence in myself, exactly. I felt I was being realistic” (pg. 83). The next paragraph? “Somehow, I made it into the final round, the round of five” (pg. 83). HOW?? There must have been SOMETHING that set her apart! I know she’s trying to be humble, but I need details!
What I Loved: There are several heartfelt chapters in this memoir. Chopra Jonas writes openly about her close relationship with her father: the most poignant scene in “Unfinished” comes when Chopra Jonas’ father, exhausted and ravaged by a terminal illness, accepts an award with her. The moment is a bittersweet segue; Chopra Jonas sinks into a numb depression after he dies. Her hurt and loss in those pages are palpable, and I appreciate her willingness to be open about her mental health. Also, as a romance lover, I find the chapter on her relationship with Nick Jonas to be pretty cute—and the writing there feels more relatable than the rest of the book. These glimpses into her personal life give Chopra Jonas more dimension.
Moreover, Chopra Jonas went to high school in the United States, won several pageants without any prior experience, and busted her way through insular Bollywood without industry connections. She has a lot of confidence, and she isn’t afraid to take risks. Through this book and her actions, she dispels the myth of Indian women as quiet and subordinate. I don’t love “Unfinished.” But its author is a pretty cool person.
A Quote I Would Like On Goodreads Because It Reminds Me Of Our Friends at Riley's Way Foundation: “Some people think being philanthropic means you have to empty your wallet. It doesn’t. When you can look at someone in need and do something about it—whether it’s offering a smile or a sandwich or a few dollars or, sure, a hospital wing if you can afford it—that’s philanthropy. The simple gifts of time, energy, and compassion can be life-changing for those on the receiving end. Those gifts make our world a much kinder place. And that’s the world I want to live in. A world of kindness and compassion in action” (pg. 229).
Next up on the BIPOC Book List: Jasmine Guillory's "The Wedding Date"!