Mindy Kaling on season four, her “deluded” alter ego and the Mindy Burger

By Ashley Jude Collie

Mindy Kaling is “having a blast” these days, and it’s not just because of her limitless joie de vivre. The multi-talented funny woman just premiered the fourth season of her hilarious sitcom, The Mindy Project, online (Wednesdays on Citytv.com, and on City TV starting Nov. 5), and the gifted writer has just released a hot new book of essays titled Why Not Me?

As if that weren’t enough, she’s also got a tasty Umami burger crafted in her honour and aptly named the Mindy Burger, with proceeds benefitting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and which she describes as “ spicy and cheesy, kind of like me! ” A deluxe burger? Now that’s Hollywood recognition!

CLICK THE IMAGE FOR MORE MINDY PHOTOS: The multi-talented actress also writes, directs and produces.

We caught up with Mindy on the set of her hit series to talk about the new season, her “deluded” alter-ego Mindy Lahiri and where her fictional baby bump is leading.

You’re obviously a fan of romantic comedies. How you put your spin on the genre?
I created the show because of what I thought was missing in romantic comedy movies. That’s what we tried to do, create characters who you might not necessarily know but they seem to be three-dimensional. The jokes are funny, as opposed to a lot of romantic comedy movies — when you watch them they’re not really funny at all. I also wanted to create something that was intelligent and not dumbed down, so I just wanted to not underestimate the audience.

Why does OB/GYN Dr. Mindy Lahiri, who’s been hilariously self-involved for three seasons, resonate with viewers?
I don’t think anyone would be like, ‘I so want to follow how she behaves,’ because she so poorly behaves so much of the time [ laughs]. But she’s the exaggerated version of what a lot of women worry about, and I think that resonates with people. But she’s changing...

Dr. Mindy Lahiri's celebrated sense of style is bold and colourful.

How did your experience with an OB/GYN mother inspire The Mindy Project?
Seeing her work environment was an initial inspiration for my series, and just by growing up around that, I got to know firsthand what the hours are like for these dedicated doctors. She wasn’t anything like my character at all, but I think she would’ve liked the show, and she would love the fashion and style.

Mindy’s colourful wardrobe gets a lot of attention (and even an Emmy nomination!) and she wore a sari in an episode. How was that?
I loved wearing that sari in the episode where I meet my parents before they leave for India. I give full credit to the people who helped me put it on. But it’s hard to believe that millions of women around the world are putting on a sari, mostly by themselves, every single day. It was gorgeous and I loved wearing it. I don’t have a lot of occasions to wear a sari but I still find them beautiful.

CLICK THE IMAGE FOR OUR FULL GALLERY: Dr. Lahiri and Danny Castellano are having a baby in season four.

With Mindy pregnant on the show and still in a roller-coaster relationship with Dr. Castellano (Chris Messina), what should fans expect this season?
The pregnancy is leading to the birth and all that involves, like me (Dr. Mindy) having to deal with the baby, which really is going to bring out new aspects to the character. This season, this sometimes deluded, selfish character, who has been so fun to play, is going to have to deal with being both a dedicated mom and girlfriend. It’s really great to work with a baby as a character, and it opens up so many more comedy opportunities.

In one episode, you tell your lover you want him to love you in a way you “can show on Instagram” — how does that ring true today?
So much of our identity now is about being able to show it. Another reason why the show resonates is there’s a reality to it. Social media, Instagram, Facebook it’s all part of our lives.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest stars on the season four premiere.

How do you reach out to potential guest stars, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Freida Pinto for the new season?
I tend to work with people I know and who’ve expressed interest in working with me. I had worked with Joe on a movie, and had been on his show. As for his appearance, and the whole dream sequence/alternate relationship, it was really fun and different. I think for a lot of women, he’d be the ideal, make-believe husband, but we put a wicked twist at the end about what he’s really like. Freida I knew socially, and even though she’s so busy with all her movies she found the time to share some laughs with us.

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