Hanging out with Mindy

On her 34th birthday on June 24 this year,The Huffington Post paid homage to one of American television’s favourite women — Mindy Kaling

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: September 6, 2013 12:02 am

On her 34th birthday on June 24 this year,The Huffington Post paid homage to one of American television’s favourite women — Mindy Kaling. Firstly,how she has been able to turn her geeky childhood into a source of comedy. With over 2.3 million followers,she’s a Twitter star. She is honest about being a ‘minority chubby Indian woman who can go head-to-head with the best white,male comedy writers’. She refuses to lose weight just because she’s on TV. She’s unapologetically girly. Despite her success,she keeps it real and is the ultimate BFF. Born to a Tamil father and a Bengali mother,Mindy Kaling is the creator,writer and star of Fox sitcom The Mindy Project (Comedy Central),and author of bestseller Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? She draws inspiration from her late mother,Swati Chokalingam,who was full of energy and a gynaecologist like Kaling in her show. Kaling wrote,executive produced and directed various episodes of the show,The Office (as Kelly Kapoor) and has acted in films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin,License to Wed,No Strings Attached and The Five-Year Engagement. Following are excerpts from an email interview by JASKIRAN KAPOOR

Who is Mindy Kaling?

Born in an Indian family,I have lived all my life in the US. I try not to deny my Indian-ness or rely on it. I am unlike my character,Mindy Lahiri (on The Mindy Project) who is more preppy,frisky and girlie. Like lot of creative people,I can be a little mercurial. I’m pretty cheerful and not a manic-depressive writer.

What is the story behind The Mindy Project?

The show is about Mindy,a successful and hardworking doctor. She’s less accomplished in her love life. Her rom-com dreams are dashed when her boyfriend dumps her and marries someone else. She pursues dating,but it’s predictably messy. She hooks up with the hospital lothario and flirts with another fellow doctor,all the while venting to her bestfriend,Gwen. She’s hyper-educated,but wants to be a better catch,a better friend,wants to work out,and actually read books instead of magazines. That’s something I also strive to be,a little bit. She tries to be more intellectual,and I think that’s super-relatable. The project part is this woman who’s not 21 or 22,and who’s trying to get her life together. People across the world,especially women,relate to these factors organically.

Does your Indian origin ever act as a deterrent,especially in a predominantly male-dominated field?

In terms of my Indian-ness,I try not to rely on it nor deny it. When it comes up in my writing,we can address it. About five years ago,we wrote this episode of The Office,called “Diwali”,which seemed like an organic way of using it. However,there is an unfair feeling that women can only write for women and men for men. Tina Fey created Jack Donaghy and gave Alec Baldwin the role of his lifetime in 30 Rock. Talent is talent,and good writers can transcend all this.

What comes first: writing or

comedy?

The experience of writing comedy is very similar to that of enjoying comedy. I definitely love acting,but I won’t be in every scene,which is why The Mindy Project cast is so big. The best part about each of these arenas involving acting,writing and being an author is that it’s one of the only jobs where the outcome is the same as the process of making it.

Very few Indian Americans make it to the top in the US film/TV media. How does it feel to make it big?

If I’m trailblazing accidentally,then it’s great. I don’t really think of my work in political terms. I would love if I could be a great example. This is the first time I’m playing the lead. I don’t feel daunted by it because I think,‘Okay,Tina did it,Amy (Poehler of Parks and Recreation) did it,Lena (Dunham of Girls) is doing it’. I don’t think of myself in terms of being Indian. Having said that,it is a cool time for Indian actors and nationality doesn’t matter.

Any other projects that you are working on?

I am working on a movie starring Anne Hathaway. I have been a fan of her and wrote the script keeping her in mind,a character that’s unglamorous,a little down-on-herself girl.

The Mindy Project airs Monday to Thursday at 11 pm on

Comedy Central.

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