Priyanka Chopra’s relationship with her father, Lieutenant Colonel Dr Ashok Chopra, was beautiful and it takes up a major part of her just released memoir, ‘Unfinished’. Priyanka goes into detail as she speaks about how it was like growing up with a father like him and the lovely bond shared by her father and her mother. And then she also mentions his illness and his unfortunate death on June 10, 2013.
Priyanka Chopra writes that in 2005, her father came to know that he has Cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, during his annual check-up. A week later, he went in for a nine-hour surgery wherein 80% of the right lobe of his liver was removed. Priyanka’s mother, also a doctor, was also present and she was happy that the operation was successful. However, the junior doctor goofed up when closing the incision. He nicked Dr Chopra’s intestine with some rubber tubing while doing so. This resulted in peritonitis and he had to remain in the hospital for six weeks. Sadly, his condition didn’t improve and soon, he had to be put on a ventilator.
This is when it was decided to fly Dr Ashok Chopra to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, USA where Priyanka’s maternal uncle, Dr Vimal Akhouri, works as an anaesthesiologist. The plan was set into motion. The numerous disclaimers were signed and forms were filled. The surgeon, however, refused to give the permission to fly and his NOC was necessary. With no other option in hand, Priyanka Chopra, then 22, marched to his office at 6 AM. She threatened him that if anything happened to her father, she’d go public against him. The doctor then signed the orders and Priyanka says that “he threw the paperwork in my face.”
This was the time when Priyanka Chopra was shooting for Krrish (2006) and that she’d go to the set after visiting the hospital. Her co-star, Hrithik Roshan, got concerned and decided to help. She writes, “My co-star, Hrithik Roshan, was aware of what was happening with my family, Incredibly, Hrithik, who is hugely successful in the Hindi film industry, got on the phone and used his connections at Air India to arrange my father’s immediate flight to London.”
From London, Dr Ashok Chopra was taken into another flight, to Boston. It took him around six months but he recovered well and was back to his old, social self.
Here, Priyanka Chopra writes, “If we hadn’t had people around us who were so kind and so willing to act on our behalf – Hrithik, and his father, Rakesh Sir (Rakesh Roshan), who was the director of the film; our family in Boston – I doubt that my father would have made it. There’s no way I can ever express my gratitude deeply to them, but it is deep and it is enduring.”