Sunday, 6 September 2015

The genius of Mindy Kaling

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (created and played by Mindy Kaling) inhabits a parallel universe created solely by herself - and I really badly want to get in!! 

Its a charmed life and she is reveling in every moment of it, and surprisingly its worked as the Mindy Project is one of the most popular series of recent times.

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As usual I watch this series a few years after its release, when the DVD junkyard in my office contains her serial (the first season).  I haven't seen this on TV or skipped it as I didn't find it as captivating and it seemed a bit like scrubs not exactly one of my favurites.  Also I have been in these countries where practically the slightest cuss word or liplock is censored, and practically each episode has been sliced and spliced into nothingness.

I ask the lady whos left this DVD behind, how was it. And she says not-so-funny and adds - Mindy has produced it, and therefore she stars in it - who'd have taken her otherwise.

But its a dry spell and I decide to watch it, and sucked right in.

Is it the content, the level of humour, the fabulous performances, the plots, the characters, the sparkling wit etc. that'd be the hallmark of any successful TV series, which'd work for the Mindy Project?
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For me its more personal and its Mindy herself which makes it worthwhile.  Think about it  - an American of south Asian origin, who's broken the glass ceiling and now become a great producer who is successful and on her own terms.   Cant think of anyone else after Oprah who's done this.  (if you think this was easy, imagine how much fun undisputed achievers like the Williams sisters go through in spite of driving TV ratings as well as sell-out stadiums, but maybe I digress... but its a familiar difficulty)

What makes this bigger for me is the zero baggage she carries on.  And perhaps it also helps that she's the producer, but she lives life to the fullest in her TV series - close to the ideal world that a regular WASP in the US does, in fact I think even the Sex In The City girls would be envying her.

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Her absence of baggage is for me the most impressive, there's no chip on the shoulder - neither racial, nor country of origin, nor being non-supermodel-skinny, nor the conventional beauty parameters and of course within India - the basic minimum of beauty being 'fair' and white skinned.   And of course - being a female.

Not just that - she is assertive, on par with any of the males in the series as well as being supremely confident and comfortable discussing and displaying herself right from her sexuality, her concerns.

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And being comfortable in her own skin - is what makes this tick for me.  Its a very alien concept and something that's a privilege especially if you are not perfect or meet the conventional dictated standards of beauty, nor have the antecedents.

I am somewhat familiar with her parallel universe. (but not celebrated the way she has done soooo beautifully)  Down south in India where neither merely fairness nor skinny are the norm.  Even the south indian film industry has actresses who are healthy, and of every shade of chocolate.  Even outside India - I have seen this in the Malaysia, UK, France,  and to some extent in the US.  But not so much in their television industry.

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Mindy goes beyond the convention - I simply loved the episode where she refused to convert.  Its not because she wears her religion on her sleeve, its just who she is. No apologies.  I also like the fact that she's not ashamed to be comfortable discussing everything from her sex life to her weight, her dress fantasies etc.

Mindy might not realise it, but Its one of the most liberating experiences, empowering as it helps portray otherwise successful women in the best way possible - normal flesh and blood human beings, who are not trapped in the conventions and stereotypes.

thanks Mindy - here's looking at you....

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