It is the year 2008. Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas come on stage Camp Rock, the Disney Channel Original film in which the Jonas Brothers were cemented as the latest heartthrobs of the network to be marketed for easy-to-remember teenagers. Even before Disney came to call, the 13-year-old had already decided that I would crush Nick, the youngest JoBro, but now, like millions of other children.
It was a level of prominence Priyanka Chopra, another celebrity that I grew up looking at, knew well. By the time Camp Rock came out, she had won Miss World and appeared in an impressive 23 Indian films. "Desi Girl" – a song from her 2008 Bollywood film Dostana, one of her most famous performances – was a powerhym that I would secretly dance in my room. The Hindi texts translate to how beautiful and unique South Asian women are. They have made me familiar with my own brown skin, just as Chopra looked in the iconic film scene:
As an Indian-American born and raised in Pennsylvania, I do my best to embrace both cultures. Looking back on my childhood, it was as if Nick Jonas and the Disney Channel represented my American side, while Chopra's "Desi Girl" represented my Indian roots. When the news broke that they were dating, it felt like – to quote another Disney Channel favorite – the best of both worlds. Jonas had apparently found his real desi girl.
He did not stop there. Over the past weekend, the couple confirmed their commitment to touching photo's of their dress-up – a pre-marital tradition for some Indians – in Mumbai, India. Chopra's extended family and Jonas & # 39; parents were there for the puja, a prayer ritual. Everyone wore Indian clothing and Jonas had kumkump powder on his forehead. When non-Indian celebrities wear this so-called "red dot", it is often a cultural appropriation. It is so refreshing to see it behave in a situation where its historical significance has not been removed.
It is clear that the future marriage of Chopra and Jonas will merge their cultures, something I and a lot of people on Twitter shout for. But for some for critics, their relationship remains astonishing for some, with a real racist who allegedly calls her an "Islamist terrorist agent and a traitor and the greatest prospector on earth". (She made an accidental $ 10 million last year alone, for the record.)
However, most of the shade refers to them 11-year age gaplike Chopra is 36 and Jonas is 25. But would it justify such a drama if Jonas was the elder? Most people seem unaffected by the 12-year difference between Beyoncé, 36 and Jay-Z, 48 – or the 11 years between Blake Lively, 30 and Ryan Reynolds, 41, for example. Chopra and Jonas can not be treated differently. They are mature adults who can make their own decisions about who they want to spend the rest of their lives with.
Of course, Jopra – the prevailing portmanteau on the internet, at least until now – may have made that decision faster than most fans, including myself, expected. They were spotted for the first time in May 2017 on the red carpet Met Gala. In May 2018 they were officially dating and in July 2018 they were engaged. When my first surprise was gone, I was stoked. My childhood is getting married with an Indian woman! How cool! At the same time I giggled about jokes about the relationship between Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson from 0 to 60 without enough time to pay even interim rent. I mean, Davidson went on engagement rings the day they met. Relationships that move with the speed of light can be unconventional for ordinary people, but in Hollywood they are not that unusual. Again, it is the decision of the couple. Who are we to judge them?
What I like most about Nick and Priyanka, of course, is that their interracial relationship is not just about Hollywood. My mother, who grew up in India and installed a special satellite so that she could continue to watch Indian TV channels in the United States, recently asked me who this Jonas boy was. She had never heard of him until Chopra put him in the Bollywood spotlight, just as many Americans had not heard of the world-famous actress until she played the leading role. Quantico and Baywatch. Regardless of what you think of her acting, her work combines two enormous, influential entertainment industries on both sides of the world.
Yet given both their dating history – Jonas with mostly white actresses and models; Chopra with mostly Bollywood actors – I think it's safe to say that nobody saw this commitment coming. My mother was understandably perplexed, as were some of my friends who called it "weird" or "difficult to photograph". Fortunately, there is now enough photographic evidence to verify that this is actually something:
Jonas and Chopra come from different worlds and perhaps different generations, but do not let them prevent them from building a life together. Even if they do not work along the line, their relationship – at least for me – is greater than just two people. I keep thinking about the follow-up of 2010 Camp Rock 2, where a young, curly-haired Nick soothes the girl he crushes. As a teenager I fainted the grand romantic gesture, but deep inside I also realized that I would probably never see someone who looked like I was playing the love interest in a rom com.
The lack of diversity in pop culture is slowly but surely changing with more recent films and TV programs.For all the guys I loved earlier, Crazy Rich Asians, Lion, The Big Sick, The Mindy project, and New girl, just to name a few that merge cultures – but growing up I saw especially white people around the same age on the screen, falling in love with each other. (Unless it was a Bollywood movie.) I wonder if that is partly the reason why Nick and Priyanka & # 39; hard to understand & # 39; because they do not look like the relationships in scripts we've seen over and over again. For me that is exactly what their unscripted engagement makes worthwhile celebrating.