Brown Girl Responds to ‘The Cut’ Essay About Priyanka Chopra Scamming Nick Jonas Into Marriage

[Photo Source: Screenshot/YouTube]

The Cut recently published an article entitled “Is Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s Love For Real?” which theorized that Priyanka Chopra was a “modern-day scam artist” who trapped Jonas in an over-indulgent marriage for her own benefit. The article was taken down after severe backlash but the cached version still exists. The Cut has since apologized for the article, and finally, as of December 7th, the author, herself, has also apologized. We at Brown Girl feel compelled, nonetheless, to share our thoughts on the article, the fact that it was even written at all, and how western media has covered Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s wedding celebrations in general.

Misrepresentation and Ignorance

From the beginning, I had mixed feelings about Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ relationship. Though Nick has proved to be wise beyond his years, Priyanka comes across as more mature and sophisticated. At the end of the day, who am I to judge someone else’s relationship? I truly wish them well in their new life together, unlike the writer of a recent article from The Cut.

The writer insulted Nick Jonas’ intelligence by assuming he could be “scammed” into a marriage and misrepresents Priyanka Chopra’s success by alleging that the actress plotted this marriage as her claim to fame. Sadly, this article doesn’t surprise me because when women of color attract intense worldwide attention, there are always attempts to discredit their achievements. For those who aren’t aware, Priyanka Chopra has been a household name for South Asians in the subcontinent and within the diaspora for almost two decades. It is actually Nick Jonas who is gaining more global prominence, as he’s now been affectionately claimed as India’s national jiju.

The writer of the article also contradicted herself several times. For example, she writes that she was offended the sangeet wasn’t televised because she wanted to see the families perform together but later on includes the following statement: “Nick and Priyanka have let fans know some of the most intimate details of their wedding. Through their social-media posts and a People magazine cover, nothing has been left up to speculation.”

Many have asserted that Priyanka and Nick’s marriage has broken many boundaries. I wholeheartedly agree, but you would never know by most of the mainstream media coverage in the U.S. Media outlets have focused mainly on pictures and clips from Priyanka and Nick’s Christian ceremony. There is little celebration of Priyanka’s cultural background, and while there have also been several articles published in the last week on the Hindu faith and the numerous events customary in Hindu weddings, the media continues to demonstrate a general lack of understanding of the Indian culture and Hindu traditions. There’s much work to be done on all accounts. — Gabrielle Deonath

Now Is The Time for Research

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the fact that Priyanka Chopra is now a household name for most Americans and not just those connected to Bollywood, but I didn’t anticipate issues with coverage of her wedding to Nick Jonas. The Cut’s piece calling Priyanka a “global scam artist” was a rude awakening. It was based on the ill-informed idea that Priyanka is an international superstar awash in privilege and magically exempt from racism, the article is (was — R.I.P.) inherently racist, bigoted, and ignorant.

I don’t want to dignify the nastiness in this article with further response, but I want to point out that, at a minimum, it was just bad. The writer called Priyanka a “scam artist” but had no actual evidence to support this wild accusation. She criticized Chopra for spending money on luxuries as if she is the only wealthy person in the world who has ever indulged in her affluence. The writer makes a number of speculations seemingly out of thin air (like that Jonas might not have been comfortable riding a horse), and then does nothing to support them (turns out she doesn’t know if he’s bad with horses — she just wants us to know it’s possible!).

Most of the coverage of the Chopra/Jonas wedding (are we really set on “Nickyanka?” Even when I worked so hard on Jo-pra??) is just fine and appropriately gushy about a celebrity wedding, but there are lapses in which you realize that most coverage is coming from writers and editors who aren’t familiar with Bollywood or Indian culture, and didn’t seem to bother to look anything up.

People Magazine’s epic wedding video inexplicably used an almost-unwatchable clip from Chopra’s 2006 film Aap Ki Khatir (yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either), perhaps due to legal restrictions, but still. I doubt this was the only clip available in Chopra’s entire filmography. There’s also a hilarious photo caption from the mehndi (where no one is actually wearing mehndi!) that describes Sophie Turner wearing a “cropped dress”. This is not a thing in India, nor is it a thing likely anywhere else in the world (crop top would at least have been objectively correct, even if the caption doesn’t bother with the existence of lehengas).

Of course, we can’t all be experts, but this is the time to do research. This is the time to type “Indian formal wear” into Google, or watch a Priyanka Chopra movie, or even just ask your Indian friend some questions for clarification. And if the editors at people and the writer of The Cut article don’t have Indian friends, get one. Seriously, there’s loads of us. — Proma Khosla

Narrowness of Worldview

You know what the problem is? Not just with this write up (although this take is the absolute worst) but with other blogs, and many comments on various gossip websites about the coverage of  Priyanka and Nick’s wedding? The authors don’t realize or recognize the narrowness of their worldview. They don’t know what they don’t know, and are so arrogant about their ignorance.

How else can we explain the complete lack of understanding that South Asian weddings in general, Punjabi weddings in particular, and Bollywood everything, is extra AF?

We don’t just bask in our extra-ness, we don’t just crave the extra-ness, we celebrate the extra-ness to a whole other level!

Yes, I know I’m generalizing, and not everyone wants to go big or go home when it comes to their wedding, myself included (but you better believe that if Vicky Kaushal ever said yes, we’d have the ceremony in a Scottish castle or something).

Nevertheless, what I’m saying is still relevant. And it’s much more relevant than the nonsense in this piece.

A wedding is a celebration. It’s the coming together of two people and two families. This warrants some form of celebration across cultures the world over, and this is no different in India. The difference is that in India the definition of family isn’t just the nuclear family we’re familiar with here in North America. No, it includes first, second, third, and fourth cousins at all levels! The definition of family is wide enough to include all of the people of your village and any person that happened to be visiting said village. Our celebrations include everyone.

The wedding, various ceremonies, the celebrations are many. If it’s a melding of two cultures, showing respect to both cultures sometimes requires two ceremonies. Several of my family and friends have done this, and it’s beautiful. Priyanka and Nick having two ceremonies made sense for them, and was a beautiful gesture to each other’s families.

Priyanka Chopra is Punjabi. She is the first born and only daughter of her family. She’s also a megastar in Bollywood. She was never going to have a quiet little backyard shindig with her closest family and friends.

The biggest Bollywood superstars — the Shah Rukh Khans and Amitabh Bachchans — routinely greet the thousands of fans that congregate outside of their homes with a wave, and sometimes sweets and snacks. It’s a custom that doesn’t quite have a parallel in Hollywood, where privacy is guarded tightly. In fact, stars who make attempts to guard their privacy during big celebrations or events are seen as being too heavy-handed or too westernized.

So the fact that her South Asian fans would have expected more than just a glimpse of her big day, makes her publicizing it the way she has so on point for her. Remember, our celebrations include everyone!

Culturally speaking, her wedding was going to be an event. Throw in her position, her personality (she is drama and she owns it) and her incredible ambition and work ethic, it should be no surprise that she is out here leveraging all of it for her professional benefit.

Priyanka Chopra is a brand. Blending and leveraging her personal and professional selves for the advancement of both makes sense.

Look at the strategy here, folks. She got the cover of American Vogue! And sure, it’s reputation isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still Vogue. Victoria Beckham has been gunning for the cover (of the American edition) for a while and still hasn’t got it.

How many women of color have been on the cover? Who are these women? Oprah, Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Michelle Obama. Priyanka made it through their (cough cough racist cough cough) vetting process, which apparently only lets WoC’s grace the cover if they are so humongous and too important globally to be ignored. They sponsored her wedding. You better believe she got her money (hard cash or in kind via publicity).

Why? Because she IS that big of a deal!

People Magazine got an exclusive too. It’s the favorite magazine of all those grocery shopping moms in Middle America. Another strategic win. It helps expands her visibility in America because she might still want to do Hollywood movies (she has three coming out next year). Remember, she doesn’t need to do American films or television since she is a true blue global Movie Star, but this type of visibility helps market her as a viable star for American consumption as well.

Some of her Bollywood contemporaries also got married recently and the ‘extra’ was evident across the board with weddings and receptions (plural!) in Italy and several cities in India. They have all been leaning heavily into professional brand management. Priyanka is a global A-lister, of course she was going to one-up them times a hundred. It’s completely on brand and within the cultural norm for her.

While the risk of overexposure is real, her team must’ve known this and planned for mitigating it. These aren’t amateur moves, people! These are the moves of a hustler who respects the hustle.

My only issue with her and her team is the complete mismanagement of her “I love the environment” stance against fireworks. How is she advocating against the use of fireworks during Diwali because of pollution, but then lighting the Rajasthani sky up for her wedding? This was a mistake.

To the author of The Cut article and any other commenters who “just don’t understand her thirst” or her “extra”, I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Google who knows everything about everything if you ask right. You should’ve asked Miss Google about PeeCee, she could have set you straight real quick.? — Sundeep Hans

WOC Struggle

Priyanka was known for her success in regards to being awarded Miss World 2000, working on two singles, and more importantly her mindset that every woman is capable of being independent. She herself would clearly bring up the fact that people always expect women to get married, but never allow them to be independent. Being the only female child, she had a huge thirst for success whether it involves her vivaciousness in films or her portrayal of an FBI agent in Quantico. Chopra has always worked hard for success herself by herself. For people to say that her marriage to Nick is solely a publicity act clearly shows to go that they honestly don’t want to see her happy. WOC are trying to make a huge impact when it comes to ground (i.e. being on the cover of Vogue, voting for equal rights, etc) and for her to be judged or labeled as a ‘gold digger’ just seems that The Cut does not want to see WOC winning, even when the article is written by a woman of color. — BG Anjali

[Read Related: Dear Nick Jonas, Here’s Your Beginner’s Guide to Bollywood]

Gracefully Agree to Disagree

As Americans, I’m proud of the fact that we have the right to freedom of speech. While writer Mariah Smith of The Cut has the right to her feelings regarding Priyanka Chopra, I think many were left in shock at the article and the pertinent information that was left out. Priyanka Chopra hails from Bollywood, the world’s leading film industry. That’s right ladies and gents, Bollywood, not Hollywood as many of us in the western world may think, is the world’s top film industry. Already having an established career and being a household name internationally Priyanka was in no need of social climbing or publicity. Her choice to crossover to Hollywood was a choice, not a need.

The article lacks genuine acknowledgment of this and paints an already-successful Priyanka as a wannabe. It was also a stretch to speak on what the writer perceives as Nick Jonas’s true feelings. The man has multiple Grammys, I think it’s safe to say he’s intelligent enough to not be duped into marriage. We see this a lot in western culture: Ignorance and unawareness reflected in an article, opinion, or comment that involves another culture. Advice: be diligent and informed before speaking or writing on any topic. I’d like to add while many are disgusted by the article let’s not bash the writer either. After all, as educated and modern-day women we can gracefully agree to disagree. — Juanita D.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History — A Review of Sundance’s ‘Polite Society’

Polite Society

For any of us who have siblings, the relationship with them can be one of the most fulfilling ones. And also one of the most bloody frustrating. No one can quite stroke the fire like someone who knows you extremely well, or sometimes not, but have a familial bond with that neither one of you chose. In “Polite Society,“directed by Nida Manzoor, sisters Ria Khan and Lena Khan’s loving, sweet, and sometimes tumultuous relationship takes center stage. 

[Read Related: Poorna Jagannathan and Richa Moorjani of Netflix’s ‘Never Have I Ever’ on Womanhood, Racism, and Issues Generations of Desi Women Still Struggle With]

Played delightfully by Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya, respectively, the evolution of their relationship is one of the film’s greatest and simultaneously weakest points. It’s also pretty cool to see two South Asian actresses in an action-comedy movie — how refreshing it is to mention the art of choreography and praise it in regards to fight sequences vs. dance sequences for a film centered on two South Asian women — that itself shows progress. 

Set in London, Ria is an aspiring stunt woman who already shows massive talent in martial arts. She looks up to her older sister Lena, who is enrolled in art school and, also holds remarkable potential in a somewhat less traditionally acceptable field. Their relationship starts off as supportive and sweet with no inclinations of jealousy or resentment that sometimes plagues sisterly bonds. But this also means that they are quite protective of one another, almost to the detriment of their well wishes for each other. 

This all happens when Lena gets engaged after dropping out of art school. Ria feels betrayed. They were supposed to be on this journey together in fighting for their dreams. Ria decides that she knows what’s best for her sister and enlists the help of her friends to rescue the damsel in distress from her own wedding. Her deep animosity towards the prospect of Lena getting married is also fueled by Lena’s fiancé and his mother acting extremely suspiciously. The twist that ultimately brings the two sisters back together is both shocking and weirdly somewhat progressive in the motive behind the villain’s origin story. But the twist, unfortunately, is too ambitious for the movie as it tacks on another genre and theme earnestly, but still clunkily. 

“Polite Society” tackles not only what it means to fight for one’s dreams but also what it means to have just one ardent supporter. As Lady Gaga famously said, “There can be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life.” Well, Ria’s Bradley Cooper was her very own sister who seemed to abandon her, and her faith in her, when she chose a different path. For Lena, the film opened up the question of marriage and the weight it bears in the life of a South Asian woman. Ria’s lack of understanding of the pressure it places on Lena is the start of the change in their relationship — the start of Ria’s coming of age and the start of Lena settling firmly into her adulthood. 

Polite Society
Director Nida Manzoor, cinematographer Ashley Connor and actor Priya Kansara on the set of their film “Polite Society.”

Standouts from the cast include Ria’s best friends, played by Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri, who commit to the story and characters with such hilarity and conviction. They add the lightheartedness and playfulness the film needs, and it is refreshing that never once do they use Ria’s cultural background as a way to make fun of her or dismiss her.

[Read Related: Ms. Marvel’s Iman Vellani and Mohan Kapur Talk Cultural Pride, Hollywood and Brown Representation]

It is also heartening to see Lena and Ria’s parents being some of the most supportive South Asian parents seen on screen. At the end of the day, it is not the external family pressure that impacts the decisions made by the sisters but rather their own satisfaction, or lack thereof, with their own lives that become the driving force of their actions. 

“Polite Society” is written and directed by a South Asian woman for South Asian women, and is definitely worth a watch when it releases in theaters this April. 

Photo Credits: Focus Features LLC

By Nimarta Narang

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Nimarta grew up devouring Hindi movies, coming-of-age novels and one too many psychology textbooks. … Read more ›

Op-Ed: Has Mindy Kaling Become a Scapegoat for the South Asian Diaspora?

Mindy Kaling

Over the past few weeks we’ve all seen Mindy Kaling shoulder the blame for misrepresenting the South Asian diaspora in her work. I want to expose us to the flip side. She’s not “Indian enough” for some in our communities and “not American enough” for mainstream television and media. But I don’t know a single South Asian living abroad who doesn’t feel this dissonance. We’re a generation born to parents who strived to stay connected to their homeland but knew they had to assimilate to survive. Many of us got lost in the mix. I definitely did. And from the looks of it, Kaling did too. 

I feel like I’ve oscillated between these two extremes all my life. I’ve had moments of code-switching — performing as a white version of myself, melting into the groups around me. And moments of being a “coconut” (or an “oreo” depending on where you come from) — suddenly donning an accent as if Hindi was my first language. It wasn’t conscious. It also wasn’t fully unconscious.  

It wasn’t until I watched Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” as a 35-year-old mother of two that I realized what teenage Ambika was up against. Still wearing tank tops in secret, while girls my age had moved on to the midriff-baring trend of the early 2000s. Not thinking it was okay to explore my sexuality. Not seeing that sometimes I knew what was better for me than my parents did. Not understanding that it was okay to expand my romantic interests beyond the few Indian boys I knew. And then I rewatched “The Mindy Project” while on maternity leave with my second kid. And I ate it up.

I rewound dialogue as Dr. Lahiri got engaged, left a man who lost his drive, fell in love with the unexpectedly handsome curmudgeon, got pregnant, learned to mother, and found a new version of herself. She addressed her pregnant body insecurities on-screen (in “What to Expect When You’re Expanding — brilliant!). She grappled with her ambitions in the face of motherhood. She owned who she was when most of us were taught not to. She dated outside of her race. Her audacity and levity gave me so much oomph at a time when I needed it the most.

Art comes from lived experience. And when individuals reflect their life back to the masses through art, it’s a tenuous balance. Comedians in particular have to toe a fine line between hyperbole and reality, having the paradoxical job of speaking the truth (the dark truth, often), and simultaneously making people laugh.

Comedian Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, when interviewed on NPR’s “Code Switch,” says: 

Even though I didn’t speak Spanish — my parents don’t speak Spanish — early in my career when I would portray my parents in a bit, they would have an accent. They would speak in broken English. Any time I would talk about my mom, it was like, ‘ay, mija.’ My mom doesn’t call me ‘mija.’ My mom will leave me a voice message and be like, ‘hey, girl!’ She talks like me. You know what I mean?

This is the inherent paradox that exists in Velma as well. Kaling, as she often does, takes her own experiences as a young Indian girl growing up against the backdrop of white America, and amplifies them. And now, Kaling is a grown, Indian woman whose career is evolving against the backdrop of an America, too.

Critics across different racial groups frequently talk about “the representation trap.” Even if a minority group is represented in a piece of art, literature, film, or television, the manifestation of that group is still filtered through the white gaze. In Ismail Muhammed’s New York Times piece “Can Black Literature Escape the Representation Trap,” he says: 

Our current problem isn’t an insufficient amount of Black representation in literature but a surfeit of it. And in many cases that means simply another marketing opportunity, a way to sell familiar images of Blackness to as broad an audience as possible.

The debate about whether minority artists properly represent their cohort is marred with capitalism and white supremacy. When so many industries are gate-kept by the typical, euro-centric, generationally rich man, is there really any way to be wholly true to our experience? 

[Read Related: ‘Late Night’ Review: Mindy Kaling & Nisha Ganatra Hilariously Expose Diversity Issues in Hollywood & Comedy]

Let’s not forget that many of us (or maybe all of us?) came up in a society that devalues women, and horrifically devalues people of color. Let’s not forget that the majority of executives across every field still don’t look like us (if by chance you’ve forgotten, read this piece by Ruchika Tulshyan). Let’s not forget that when people are introduced to something foreign and unknown to them, their default is to reject it (again, if you’ve forgotten, read about “the mere exposure effect” and racism).

I’m unsure how Kaling has inherited the immense responsibility of representing all of the South Asian American diaspora? And is then being criticized for her representation of it. Third-generation South Asians are very different from second-generation, who are very different from first-generation. Our identities and how we fit into American culture, mainstream media, and business, are still forming as we speak. We are not a monolith.

And plenty of men have done exactly what Kaling is being criticized for, without anywhere near the same level of criticism. All men I (hopefully, we) love.

Riz Ahmed has taken on roles in which his race isn’t the central focus. Hasan Minaj doesn’t get criticized when he uses stereotypical accents to represent South Asians or for using politics as a launch pad for his content. We don’t hate on Kumail Nanjiani when he suddenly gets a six-pack, even though he also once played a nerd. I loved when Aziz Ansari went to Italy to make pasta and didn’t make it Indian.

Why are we tearing down one of the only women in America who is working to showcase South Asian culture and people? Because she uses humor and caricature? Because she’s not putting herself in the mindset of the type of Indian person who has learned to thrive at the intersection of their upbringing and their environment? Newsflash: that person doesn’t exist! 

It’s not on Kaling to represent every dimension of this diaspora. She’s done her job.

I’m a proud, second-generation, Indian American woman, married to an Indian American man, with two Indian American children. I was nerdy just like Kaling. I had arm hair just like Devi. I pined after white boys in my teen years just like Bela from the HBO Max’s “Sex Lives of College Girls,” too. And Kaling is an absolute inspiration to me. 

I see a South Asian woman who chose to have children on her own. Whose career, post-children, skyrocketed. Who committed herself and her craft to tackle the most deep-rooted stigmas of South Asian culture — mental health, sex, and interracial relationships — while still honoring the way it manifested in her life. 

It’s now our job to get out into the world and dimensionalize our cohort. Show the world what us supposed “ABCDs” have grown up and done; who we’ve become and what we’ve accomplished. 

It’s what I’m trying to do. It’s what I’m trying to fight for when I’m told things like “maybe tone down the diversity angle in your writing, we don’t want publishers to think they’re just buying a diversity book.”

We still exist in a house of cards. Why are we kicking the building blocks of our own home?

I’ll leave you with this quote from Kaling herself: 

People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them. But when you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late. And since they didn’t, they want to stop you. You can’t let them.

I hope this woman never gets discouraged. We need her in more ways than one.


The opinions expressed by the writer of this piece, and those providing comments thereon (collectively, the “Writers”), are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any of its employees, directors, officers, affiliates, or assigns (collectively, “BGM”). BGM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Writers. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you have a complaint about this content, please email us at This post is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Ambika Gautam Pai

Ambika Gautam Pai is the Chief Strategy Officer at full-service advertising agency Mekanism and a mom of two. She's a … Read more ›

‘BollyWed’: Toronto’s First-Ever South Asian Bridal Series is Here!

For the Singh family, Chandan Fashion has always been bigger than simply a bridal showroom. Located in the heart of Gerrard Street, a bustling Little India in Toronto, the bright blue and pink building can be spotted from a distance. Over the years, Chandan has garnered attention from customers from all over North America, even as far as California and Virginia.

For Chandan and Roop, who work alongside “Mom and Dad,” Chandan Fashion is a family business and a way to showcase the beauty of South Asian culture while playing a helping hand in allowing every bride and groom to feel special on their big day. Chandan is their legacy and one they hope to be able to showcase the beauty and intricacies of throwing that “big Indian wedding” on their new CBC show, “BollyWed.”

“BollyWed” follows this tight-knit family through the joys and difficulties of running a multigenerational business. Throughout the variety of clients, discussions of new generation business practices versus old generation, many lehengas, and plenty of laughs, this is one whirlwind journey through the marriage industry.

Brown Girl had the opportunity to interview Chandan and Roop Singh, who were incredibly down-to-earth and a joy to speak to. Here is the interview down below!

What was the inspiration for opening Chandan?

Chandan: My mom and dad started the vision back in 1984 — they started the business. I have a store in India that was started by my grandfather which my father worked in as well, so it is kind of multi-generational of being within this industry of clothing and fashion. My father had a dream of starting what his father did in India, in Canada. While visiting friends in Toronto, my father knew that the Gerrard Indian Bazaar was the right place for them to start, it was the largest Indian market in the Northern America area. He rented a space for two years a couple of doors down from where Chandan originated and then in 1986 we had the opportunity to purchase the corner unit and grow it from one floor to two, to now a four-floor showroom.

Roop: And it should be noted that 1986 is also the year that Chandan was born, hence the name of the store. Chandan Fashion.

Many cities have their own versions of Little India. What was it like growing up/operating in Gerrard Street East? What do you think makes Gerrard Street unique?

Roop: It is funny you say that because even now when we have people traveling to Toronto, checking out Gerrard Street is on their itinerary. So we get a lot of clientele that are visiting from out of town whether it be visiting for the day or weekend. Some of them will sometimes get a hotel nearby for about a week and do their entire wedding family shopping with us.

Chandan has literally grown up in Gerrard Street, but I grew up in Toronto as well. I spent a good chunk of my own childhood in Little India on Gerrard Street. Growing up in the 90s, it was the only Indian bazaar in the greater Toronto area, so anyone who wanted to meet members of their community, have really good South Asian food, shop for upcoming events, or celebrate Diwali or Holi, this is where [they’d] go. This is where my mom would take me on the weekends and I remember popping into Chandan Fashion when my mom needed an outfit. In that way, our childhoods are connected over Little India and I feel like a lot of first-generation kids will sympathize with me, when we wanted to feel a little bit at home, that is where we would go.

How did you get the “BollyWed” opportunity on CBC? What is it like working with your family? What roles do you all play in the business? How do we get to see this in the show?

Roop: It has been quite a journey. It wasn’t necessarily such a drastic transition because already the family was very close-knit in the sense that they are working day in and day out. We do our social media together and our buying together, go to fashion shows. So naturally things we were already doing as a family were just translated to the TV. That is what I love the most about the show, it is just an authentic following of what we do on a daily basis as a family and as a business. It has been a great experience and something that we are super grateful for. It was actually seven years in the making and I’ll let Chandan tell you how “BollyWed” came to be.

Chandan: It started out in 2014. I was at a wedding show and I was approached by the executive producer, Prajeeth and we shot a shizzle. He had an idea of a wedding show with a family narrative and I had been watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ extensively. I knew that there was this really interesting market and this fascination with South Asian outfits and bridalwear given that it was so colorful and the beadwork was so ornate. There was a lot more interesting subject matter, especially if we tie that into a seven-day-long wedding and you tie that into multiple events and families. That is more prevalent in South Asian culture: what the mother-in-law thinks, what the mother thinks. But five to six years went by and we got 22 rejections over that period by almost every network imaginable. I was always excited that we were getting rejected because I knew that eventually, we would get a yes. Eventually at the end of 2021, around the end of the COVID era, the production company reached out asking if we were still interested in the show. I said it was never a question of ‘if,’ it was a question of ‘when.’ From the get-go, I knew that this show would be picked up, I knew it would be a success. In March 2022 we got greenlit. We had this amazing journey of seven months of continuous filming. It has been an amazing journey to be able to represent South Asians on television in a way that has not been done before. I like lighthearted programming and I am glad that we were able to influence the show because of our lives and make it a lighthearted family show that people can watch. But we still get to have important discussions.

Roop: I love that Chandan mentioned this. We get to showcase a lot of pivotal subjects in today’s society. For example, we made sure that inclusivity was showcased across all 10 episodes and that is something that I give credit to our directors and producers, they did a wonderful job showcasing how inclusive not just us as a business, but as a brand and as a family we are. These are values that have been instilled in us, that when somebody crosses your threshold and comes into your store, it doesn’t matter what their background is, their color, or their orientation, that is irrelevant. It is something that we don’t factor in, we just consider that this is the patron, the client. There is no judgment — not in our store, not in our family. And I love that we were able to share that on a big screen for everyone to see. That was one reason why it was so important to do this, but the other reason has a lot to do with Chandan and his childhood.

Chandan: So for me, I was born and raised in Toronto. I went to a very small school where I was the only South Asian for a long time in that school. I was the only Punjabi kid, the only kid with a turban, and eventually the only one with a beard, so I noticeably stood out compared to all my peers. My father with his best intentions sent me to a really small school, a private school, that he could not afford to pay for. Where at times the check would bounce every month, but he had a very strong belief that if he provided me a quality education [so] I would keep something really dear to him —keeping the belief in religion — I wouldn’t cut my hair, I wouldn’t cut my beard, I wouldn’t conform to society. He wanted to give me the best chance to succeed as is, [but] the unfortunate truth was I was bullied, I was picked on. I wouldn’t tell him, but people would grab my jurra, my turban, and my hair. And as a kid I would just let it go because you do not want to go home and tattle to your parents, but also because I knew how sensitive of a topic it was to my dad. And I think that my experience would have been different if people didn’t ask me every month, ‘How long is your hair? What do you keep under that?’ All these questions made me feel really uncomfortable, but the other kids also asked because they had never seen anyone like me. If I had grown up with a show like this, I would not have felt so alone, such a strong desire to belong. This is one of the reasons I really believed in the show, I really wanted to have representation. Even if there is just one other kid who watches this show and grows up in a suburb where there aren’t many South Asian kids; if he is able to turn the TV on and see my dad with such a thick accent — English isn’t his first language — but he still owns it so confidently. Or they see a guy like me with a turban and a beard and see that frankly he still has such a hot wife.

Roop: But beyond that, this gentleman with a turban and thick accent, they are such normal people. They love takeout, they like to play tennis, and they could be your neighbor. Other than their outward appearance, they are very much like you, very similar.

Your support in styling Priyanka for their drag performance was inspiring and refreshing to see. How do you change your styles/designs to foster inclusivity?

Roop: I think that goes back to what I was saying about how Mom and Dad have fostered this universal approach to our clientele. We do not look beyond their needs. I think it is also important to note that some people had thought that we had Priyanka come onto the show to make it more interesting, but their relationship with the store spans over the past five to seven years.

Chandan: Twenty years. Priyanka and their family have been shopping at the store for the past 20 years since they were kids. When Priyanka started exploring the world of drag, they came and said they needed a costume that they would be designing. It also wasn’t even any of my peers or me that made that connection with Priyanka, it was actually my dad, the older generation. He said, ‘Don’t worry beta.’ He actually corrected himself and said, ‘Beti, we will be there for you.’ And he got them a really nice sari and lehenga which they converted into a costume that won the first season.

Roop: And Priyanka put their own spin on it and created something amazing. Only because we were the designers of those pieces could we tell that that is a piece from our lehenga. They did such a fabulous job with it.

Chandan: I think we sometimes think of the older generation, like our parents, as being more conservative, but I think that it is a one-sided narrative. Not all of the older generation is as conservative as we think. And my dad just took it as a paying customer is a paying customer. It doesn’t matter what their orientation or beliefs are, and that just naturally unfolded into the story that we are sharing. He did not treat it as a big deal.


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For our readers currently planning their weddings, do you have any pieces of advice on how to balance all the heavy details of wedding planning without losing sight of why they are doing it for?

Roop: One thing for the bride and groom is not to lose sight of themselves in all of this. I’ve been there and done that. You plan this extravagant seven-day affair, you have all these people flying out to your wedding, and you feel this really heavy responsibility to make sure that all these guests are taking time out of their lives to celebrate your union. And like myself — and I am guilty of this, which is why I want to tell my fellow brides — [you] tend to make it less about [yourself] and more about everyone else who is attending. And yes, of course, everyone is important and I owe them respect for joining us. But remember what you want in the heart of heart, if you want a small wedding, go for a small wedding. If you want a big wedding, go for a big wedding. If you want the seven-tiered cake, go for it, if you just want cupcakes, go for that. At the end of the day don’t forget what makes you happy. Don’t lose sight of it, just be authentic to yourself.

Chandan: Oftentimes in the wedding industry, people are really looked down upon. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, you are spending so much for this wedding!’ Or, ‘You are obsessing over these details!’ If it is important to you, it is okay. I would not let judgment get in the way of doing what you want whether it be a small intimate 20-person wedding or a having a 1000-person wedding. This is your moment. The biggest thing I hear is, ‘Oh, it is only for an hour.’ But, if you have a photographer, nothing is for an hour. It is for a lifetime. Those moments last a lifetime. If it is something that you hold near and dear to you, you will cherish it. I wish people would stay true to themselves.

Roop: Yeah, agreed. Be mindful of what sparks joy in you and let that be your compass. The most important piece of advice though: At every function please request that your caterer create a to-go container of the meal at the event for you and your partner to enjoy after because often, and it is so sad to hear this, the bride and groom will eat last at their own event or not at all. And you spend all these months planning [an] extravagant menu and then you don’t even get to eat your own wedding cake. Hah! That happened to us!

Do you have any future plans that you feel excited about sharing with Chandan?

Chandan: Yeah! I would say concrete plans are in the pipeline. In the first episode of ‘BollyWed’ [you] see that we come to the realization that there is just not enough space and we would love to expand into another space.

Roop: And this is where you get a lot of the new generation, old generation beliefs. Because mom and dad believe that the family should stay very close-knit and together to run the one location. And Chandan has the belief that [the] true success of a business is when it is scalable, and has multiple locations nationally, globally even. In Episode 10 you get a conclusion, but we will let the readers watch it for themselves!

You can now watch the inaugural season of CBC’s “BollyWed” on CBC TV every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST or stream it for free on CBC Gem! And that’s not all from the Chandan Fashion team! They’ll soon be featured in an Instagram LIVE chat with Brown Girl Magazine, so stay tuned!

By Vashali Jain

Vashali Jain is a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University. In her spare time, she likes to experiment in the … Read more ›