Confession time. I had never heard of, nor heard the songs of, the Jonas Brothers until Priyanka Chopra married one of them.
Be warned. There is very little of our Priyanka in this exceptionally revealing documentary. But she is not missed.
“Chasing Happiness” is about brotherly bonding that transcends the showbiz formula of success, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. There they were, three healthy all-American boys from a 2-bedroom house in New Jersey whose songs were suddenly sung by 70,000 people, who are thrown into the frightening drill of staying successful because failure is not an option.
Not that these boys — Nick, Joe and Kevin — were flogged into fame by overambitious parents. Not at all. If you are looking for a sleazy saga of a brothers’ boy band sinking into debauchery, then “Chasing Happiness” (where no one chases happiness, it’s theirs without asking) is not for you.
The closest you will come to something risque is when Joe pulls Kevin’s leg about a girlfriend who couldn’t stop talking about Joe’s small reproductive organ.
For the most part in this one and half hours of abundant engrossing footage (did the Jonas family film everything in the hope that one day it would all go into a revealing documentary?), brilliantly edited and befittingly packaged in dollops of sunshine, what we see are three religiously raised brothers whose pastor-father lost the goodwill and faith of his community when his sons insisted on singing about girls instead of God.
What could have been a manipulative moment meant to make us feel sorry for a family that abandoned frugality for fame, becomes a heartbreaking journey when the family leaves behind the home and life they loved in New Jersey to move to stardom, courtesy Disney.
If the saga of the Jonas brothers comes across as somewhat rose-tinted, it is because the brothers seem to live a scum-free wholesome picture-perfect lives. Easygoing, affable, honest and uncompromised.
“Chasing Happiness” gives the Jonas Brothers a solid platform to shine, without glossing over the sordid side of showbiz when briefly, the brothers went their separate ways because as someone puts it succinctly, they became ‘Three people all living different realities of what the Jonas Brothers were’.
This is an amazingly heartwarming story of kinship and showbiz, of family values under pressure and of siblings who won’t break their bonding even for fame or money, specially not for fame or money.
My only quibble is why is Priyanka Chopra’s arrival in Nick Jonas’ life treated with such haste, almost as if she represents that outside force in the familial paradise that the Jonas’ would rather not discuss. [By Subhash K. Jha]