“Hilarious,” “quirky,” “relatable” and “realistic”: These are just some of the words one can use to describe Indian American actor/filmmaker Priya Mohanty’s new immigrant tale, “FOBia.”
“FOBia” follows Kay, an Indian “FOB” (meaning “Fresh Off the Boat” or someone who has recently immigrated to the U.S.), as she adapts to American life with her American roommate, Ashanti, and her Indian neighbor (and also a “FOB”) Bina. The show follows their journey as they navigate cultural misunderstandings, relationship problems and financial issues while attending a business school.
Take for example, referring to Math as Maths (which gets a few chuckles); omitting the c in science and pronouncing it as “signs” (more chuckles), and describing your drunk self as “being high” (raising a few eyebrows).
With immigration being such a hot-button topic these days, immigrants are often reduced to statistics. The discussion, according to the show, primarily revolves around how they may or may not benefit America and the economy.
“‘FOBia’ seeks to go behind those stats and give a face to these immigrants – it seeks to humanize the immigrant experience through a comedic lens. While we debate on what immigrants mean to America, ‘FOBia’ attempts to answer what America means to immigrants,” according to the show’s website.
Writer and creator Mohanty, who came to U.S. in 2008 to pursue her MBA at Duke University, also plays the protagonist’s role which is loosely based on her life in the U.S.
Reshmi Hazra Rustebakke is the director/producer of the series which stars Indian American actress Madhura Jugade as Bina; Alex Dauphin as Ashanti; and Joe Lino as Gabe.
The pilot for “FOBia,” which was one of four projects that launched the new season of OTV, an intersectional production platform based in Chicago, was released in April.
The show also highlights the diversity within the immigrant community. In one of the scenes, when Kay complains about not having anything in common with Ashanti, Bina says that even though they are both Indian, they don’t have much in common.
“We’re both Indian but you’re rich, I’m not. You went to all high-society great schools, you have high-society friends, you take international vacations…” Bina says. The two later bond over their love for actor Shariq Khan.
After graduation, Mohanty went on to work in the corporate world before an acting workshop changed the course of her career. Some of her notable credits include Indian American playwright Madhuri Shekar and Joanie Schultz’s critically-acclaimed production, “Queen,” and “Pillars of the Community” at Strawdog Theatre.
Jugade, also a theater artist, has been associated with Borealis – The House Theatre of Chicago, and the Theatre School at DePaul University, among others.
The solid premise and the crisp packaging of the 27-minute pilot coupled with the incredible acting chops of the lead actors makes “FOBia” a must-watch series. See it for yourself.
The pilot episode can be seen here