Monica Vaswani Talks ‘Family Karma’ & the Ups and Downs of Reality TV

Monica Vaswani Family Karma Interview
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Bravo TV]

“Family Karma” follows a group of multigenerational Indian families in Miami who have known each other since they were children. The show mostly revolves around young professionals living at home with their parents — either out of financial necessity or their family’s wish — but needless to say their parents make the show what it is.

As for the cast, it includes a group of progressive first-second generation Indian kids who’ve spent their entire lives in Miami and live the quintessential Indian-American lives with culture and heritage at the center of their family lives while trying to pave a path for themselves in the real world. Vishal has been engaged for two years to Richa but hasn’t received approval from his fiancé’s mom, Lopa aunty. Monica and Brian are best friends in the classic will they / won’t they date scenario. There’s Amrit who seems to be everyone’s favorite and has a long-distance boyfriend who comes over to visit Amrit and his parents. Bali is the cool divorced aunt who also has a long-distance boyfriend and has a lot to say about her ex-husband’s lavish lifestyle back in India. And the most relatable of all is Anisha who has moved back home with her mother to focus on her fashion startup for her plus size women while her mother is only focused on getting her married.

[Read Related: Here’s why Bravo’s ‘Family Karma’ is Exactly What the Culture Ordered]

If you’re a fan of reality television then Bravo’s new show, “Family Karma” is just for you. Gossiping and lots of aunty drama will be sure to have viewers adoring and addicted to “Family Karma.”

We spoke to Monica Vaswani, a software specialist by day and Bollywood choreographer by night, about her experience so far. With a set of divorced parents and a very supportive father, who makes for an amazing TV dad (by the way), it almost feels like a surreal experience to watch Monica go through the trials and tribulations of living up to the expectations of a progressive-yet-somewhat-conservative Indian society.

Your family is being broadcasted to hundreds of thousands of people across America, even people that have probably never met an Indian person, much less family before. Can you comment on this and tell us how you mentally prepared for so many eyes on you?

To be honest it was a very exciting opportunity that came our way to show the world our family, friends, and culture. It was a moment for all of us to make history by being the first all-Indian cast in an American docu-series. I was very lucky to have a very supportive father that said “you have to do it!” It’s definitely nerve wracking to put yourself out there for millions of people to see and judge you but I think I’ve always made it my goal to remain as transparent and grounded as possible. All I can do is be myself and hope that people will be able to relate to my life.

What were your immediate thoughts when you were approached by Bravo TV about doing a reality show?

Well I’m a huge Bravo fan so right off the bat I was like is this legit? I genuinely didn’t realize how real this opportunity was until I had a camera in my house! Once it all settled in I was very excited to tell the world my story and hoped to shed light with my experiences of different stigma within the Indian community. My parents were one of the first couples within our Indian community to get a divorce and it took a really large toll on me growing up. I wanted people to know my story and what juggling between two households was really like. I hope that by me being vulnerable someone else going through the same thing could maybe take something away from how I handled it.

What has been the most challenging thing about this?

The most challenging part about this was being open and honest. I had to be ok with not looking perfect all of the time. I had to be ok with talking about things that made me uncomfortable. I had to be ok to self-reflect and admit if I was wrong in a situation. At times it definitely felt like a giant therapy session but in a good way. Through the process of opening up about myself I was able to grow and that’s life right? That’s our reality so I feel like we accomplished our goal of giving the audience a raw view of that.

What’s been the response from viewers?

The response from our viewers has been SO positive. I am always on Twitter or Instagram searching the #familykarma hashtag and I was shocked to find that everyone who watched the show welcomed us into their homes with open arms. I have received so many messages from young people within the desi community saying that they loved the show so much that they’re going to watch it with their parents and grandparents next. That’s huge! It makes me so happy that people feel comfortable enough to watch this show with their families. I think that a lot of people resonate with the dynamics we have with our parents.

When was the moment you started to get used to cameras following you?

I really got comfortable with the camera’s following me when the production crew became a part of our family. If I was cooking you better believe that I made extra to make sure everyone ate after we wrapped filming. Some of the moms were even packing to go bags with lunch for the camera crew! It holds so true to how our parents are in real life. We want guests to enter our home to feel welcomed and included in our family!

What are your goals for “Family Karma”?

My goal was simple. I just wanted people to be able to enter an average Indian-American household and see what our culture and traditions consisted of. I don’t have a mansion or fancy cars, I’m a regular girl who works a full-time job and strives to achieve her goals with my side hustles. The dream is to work hard and take care of my family.

What is your go-to makeup product?

Haha thank you! I have an obsession with face products! I love a good foundation and concealer. Right now my go to is Tarte Shape Tape concealer and Huda beauty’s liquid foundation! These are must haves!

Being in tech by day and dancing away at night, you’re known as the “perfect Indian girl.” Do you like being called that?

I’m flattered that people say that about me but I’m not perfect by any means. I have flaws like anyone else and I have so much to learn! You’ll definitely see this be a part of my journey throughout the show and I think that when people hear my story they’ll get why I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best version of myself.

What’s your favorite song to dance to?

I am a HUGE fan of JioSaavn. I barely listen to non-Indian music to be honest. All of my friends know that when I get in their car I’m going to turn the Drake music off and turn on some Amrit Maan! He’s by far my favorite artist right now! My favorite song of his is “Difference.”

Who is your favorite Bollywood dancer? Movie?

My love for Bollywood dance started with the legend, Madhuri Dixit. She is a GOD in the world of dance for Bollywood movies. I used to buy those DVD’s at the Indian grocery store that just had all of her dance compilations on it. I think I’ve probably memorized every song and every dance move, it’s a problem lol. But my favorite movie has to go to “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” – such a classic! I cry every time I watch it even though I know what the ending will be. Don’t judge me.

Check out Monica and the “Family Karma” crew every Sunday at 9PM EST / 6PM PST on Bravo TV. Apologies in advance for when you want more every Sunday night! And if you want, even more, tune into the new podcast on the block “Lights. Karma. Action!” where two Los Angeles-based hosts Rasha Goel and Shay Ali give you their take on the show with no filters. They break down the characters, storylines and drama for the audience from their perspective.

By Sarah Khan

Sarah Khan is a writer, producer, and social media strategist. From writing personal essays to producing videos for BuzzFeed, Sarah … Read more ›