Priyanka Chopra is taking a big risk by marrying Nick Jonas, at least in regard to traditional Indian culture. Chopra, who has been called “Bollywood’s greatest gift to Hollywood,” is breaking with traditional norms with her marriage. It isn’t an issue of being an interracial couple, but it is a cultural issue. For the most part, many of Chopra’s fans had slowly gotten over some of their concerns regarding the coupling. After some heated social media debates that both men and women took part in, Jonas’ post announcing their engagement fanned the flames again.
According to tradition, the husband is supposed to be older than the wife and more successful. Chopra, at 36, is 11 years older than Jonas. As reported by News 18, this was terribly troubling to a sanskari nation. Sanskari, for those unfamiliar with the term, is basically a woman that is subservient to her male authority figure (father or husband), and conducts herself in the purest manner possible according to Quora. While this is tradition, it is not always the case anymore in modern relationships.
One of the reasons that this aspect of their relationship was largely ignored at first, Chopra being a good sanskari, was because in India, she is the one that is viewed as having the power. She is older, more famous, more successful, and richer. According to Business Today, Chopra has a net worth of about $28 million, and approximately made $10 million in annual income in 2018. Jonas is worth about $25 million with no guaranteed annual income. Because of this, it was widely assumed to most people outside of North America that Chopra would remain an independent woman from Jonas with her own identity.
That is where the engagement announcement from Jonas comes into play. He announced her as the “Future Mrs. Jonas,” and with that legions of feminists began rising up and doing a double take. The comment section of the photo is riddled with comments akin to “Future Mr. Chopra” and “You meant to say you are the future Mr. Chopra.” At News 18 they said he put his “male fragile ego” on display. The feeling among many women in India is that Jonas is trying to mark Chopra as if she was a possession by announcing her as Mrs. Jonas.
The matter of taking a husband’s name is somewhat delicate in modern Indian culture because it is a reminder of the days of coverture, which is being under the protection and authority of a husband, or father if unmarried. Indian women no longer have to take their husband’s name, but many do either due to tradition or to try to avoid offending the groom and his family. For many women, whether they take a man’s name or not, the important thing is that regardless of their reason, it is their choice to make.
Even when Sonam Kapoor married Anand Ahuja and took his name a couple of weeks after the wedding, she suffered backlash for it because she identifies herself as a feminist. She pointed out that as a feminist, it is her right to choose, and her choice was to be respected. What some women are feeling Jonas did was taking away Chopra’s right to choose or even to just announce herself as Mrs. Jonas. They feel it is not his place to speak for her on such matters.
While this is a very touchy topic in India right now, in North America and Europe, it is something which has barely been noticed or commented on, largely because of it not being seen as abnormal or offensive due to cultural differences. Chopra has not commented on it once, not even to queries on her social media asking her to speak up about it. While some members of the Indian press corps are pressing for answers, Chopra has declined to confirm or deny if she will actually take Jonas’ name. Feminists of India angered or not, Chopra isn’t letting anyone rain on her parade.