After six successful seasons, “The Mindy Project” bid goodbye to us with an incredibly satisfying, perfectly wrapped ending. The comedy has left behind quite the legacy. Mindy Kaling is the first Indian-American actress to star as the lead in an American television show. She also wrote and produced it. Is there anything she doesn’t excel at? We doubt it.
“The Mindy Project” was the perfect romantic comedy. It encapsulated humor and packed a punch with one-liners while giving us a central couple to root for in the form of Mindy Lahiri (Kaling) and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina). Yay for a realistic biracial relationship that came with a lot of ups and downs. The story focused on Mindy Lahiri’s growth as a person, a doctor, a mother, and to state the obvious, a fashionista. Damn, those bright colorful clothes she wore on the show are a highlight, especially some of the beautiful Indian attires.
Even though Mindy was never someone who indulged in her culture too much, there have been episodes where she’s wondered if she’s even “Indian-enough.” Through “The Mindy Project,” she became the voice of a diaspora who live dual identities. Another remarkable gift this show gave audiences is featuring other South Asian-American actors, all of whom completely rocked their roles.
Here are the South Asian-American actors who were on “The Mindy Project.” Don’t worry, you can still binge-watch all six seasons on Hulu!
1. Utkarsh Ambudkar
He played Mindy’s younger brother Rishi, an aspiring rapper, for several episodes across the seasons. Ambudkar has impeccable comic timing. This show became a bigger platform for the actor who can also be seen in “Pitch Perfect,” “White Famous,” and “The Muppets.”
2. Sakina Jaffrey
We waited three seasons to meet Mindy’s mother and boy, she did not disappoint! Thanks to Jaffrey, who played the role with perfection, it was easy to fall in love with Sonu Lahiri, the embodiment of the perfect desi mom: hilarious, supportive, independent! Jaffrey has been in the industry for a while now with remarkable performances in “House of Cards,” “Timeless,” and “Sleepy Hollow.” But it was in this role she truly revealed her comedic side.
3. Ajay Mehta
To complete the Lahiri family, Mehta played Tarun, Mindy’s father. Again, in typical desi parent-style, he was rigid and protective on the outside but a complete softie on the inside. We could relate! You’ll recognize Mehta from his roles on “Anger Management,” “Outsourced,” and “Royal Pains.” The versatile actor did a brilliant job yet again on “The Mindy Project.”
4. Freida Pinto
Pinto has become a well-known face in America in the last few years. It all began with the success of “Slumdog Millionaire.” Since then, she’s done several Hollywood movies including the “Rise of the Planet of Apes.” Most recently, she appeared on the TV show “Guerrilla.” She appeared on this show in the season 4 premiere playing an exaggerated version of herself in Mindy’s dream where she’s dating Danny. It was a brief but hilarious cameo.
5. Kunal Nayyar
Another big name in the television industry, Nayyar has been rocking it as Rajesh Koothrapali on TV’s most-viewed comedy “The Big Bang Theory” for ten years now. He appeared on “The Mindy Project” in the same episode as Pinto as Sendhil, a man who Mindy’s parents want her to marry as opposed to Danny. To say it was refreshing to see him as his natural self as compared to his TBBT character and looking hella sexy is an understatement.
6. Tiya Sircar
After Mindy rejects her coworker Jody (Garett Dilahunt), he starts dating Claire, a Mindy clone. Literally, though, their dressing sense and pop culture choices are all the same. Sircar plays Claire and it’s a testament to her acting skills because she mimics Kaling’s persona extremely well. You can see the actress in other shows like “The Good Place,” “Master of None,” and “Star Wars: Rebels.”
7. Kristian Kordula, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Amrapali Ambegaonkar, Asher Deva, Kiran Deol
All these talented actors appear in the season 4 episode “Bernardo and Anita.” It’s a wonderful installment in which Mindy goes on a date with Neel (Kordula), who at the end of the night calls her a coconut: brown on the outside, white on the inside. He points out that forget dating other South Asians, she doesn’t even have friends who are desi. Later, she goes to a dinner party with his friends (with Jody in tow). We meet the rest of these actors who play Anisha, Durga, Anand, and Aditi respectively. Seeing all of their close bonds makes her wonder why she doesn’t follow her own heritage or mingle with “her people,” so to speak. To make up for it, she holds a Kundan ceremony for her son Leo and invites them all, plus her family and coworkers for it. It’s an interesting take on the subject. With this episode, Kaling addressed and even self-criticised the comments about how she always dates white men or how there aren’t enough people of color on the show.
“The Mindy Project” may have ended but what it represented has not. In its own way, the show spoke to the South Asian community and we finally had a lead character in whom we could see ourselves. Kudos to Kaling for breaking such a big barrier and paving her way in this industry. The actress will next be seen in two big Hollywood movies in 2018, “Ocean’s Eight” and “A Wrinkle In Time.” We know this is just the start for her and we’re excited to see everything else she does.