In her new memoir, actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas writes on how she coped with her father’s death
In her recently released memoir, actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas has revealed she fell into depression following her father’s death, a period that lasted for around five years till she made a conscious decision to move from “a world of gray back into a world of vibrant colour”.
The 38-year-old actor’s father Dr Ashok Chopra, a physician in the Indian Army, died on June 10, 2013, after a long battle with cancer at the age of 62.
Priyanka says she used work as therapy, putting her grief and “a piece of my soul” into the sports drama Mary Kom, which released in 2014. She was set to start shooting for the film, produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, days after her father’s passing. “Five days after Dad died, the day following my father’s ‘chautha’, Mary Kom was scheduled to begin shooting, and although the film’s producer, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, offered to postpone the start date, the sense of duty and discipline I’d inherited from my father and his 27 years in the military wouldn’t allow me to accept his offer...
“As always, work was my therapy. I put all of my grief and a piece of my soul into that character and that film. It’s what drove me and it’s what allowed me to continue functioning,” the actor writes in Unfinished, published by Penguin Random House India.
Priyanka also acknowledges her Krrish co-star Hrithik Roshan, who in 2005-06 “used his connections at Air India” to arrange for her father’s immediate flight to London from where he was transferred onto a flight to New York for further treatment at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
After her father’s death, she says she didn’t want to feel her overpowering grief, so “I walled myself off emotionally”.
This, Priyanka adds, had been her method for coping with pain ever since her boarding school days. Her mother, Madhu Chopra, also a former physician in the Indian Army, advocated the actor talk to a counsellor.
Although she tried a few therapists, she says, she never found one who was right for her. The family, she says, tried to make sense of the grief on a trip to Turks and Caicos in December 2013.
“Beyond those few conversations with my family, though, I never really examined or dealt with my grief. Instead, I tried to power through. I was doing my best to be resilient, but the fact is that I was burying my grief rather than coming to terms with it.”
Almost three years later, she moved to New York to shoot the second season of the ABC series Quantico, her first Hollywood project.
I imagined I might leave behind the sadness I was still feeling when I left Canada. Instead, I fell into a depression. While I thought I had powered through my grief, I was still carrying it with me, apparently keeping up my end of the deal to hold it close wherever I went,” Priyanka writes.
After months of cancelling dinner plans with friends and living in a cocoon, she spent New Year’s Eve of 2017 at best friend’s place.
“I didn’t know exactly how to move from a world of gray back into a world of vibrant colour, but one day I figured out one simple thing I could do: I could stop hiding and reengage with life.”