Moving on after ending a long-term relationship is painful, ugly and emotionally taxing but “Loss is inevitable. People die, relationships die. And grief is the gift that keeps on giving.” That’s what 30-year-old Indian American Geeta Gidwani learns at her first divorce support group meeting. This might make sense to her — except she isn’t divorced.
Gita was hopelessly in love for ten years with her “prince charming” until he decides to dump her on the day of their engagement party. As Gita mourns the end of her relationship, which sends her spiraling downward, Gita’s Indian American parents drag her to the group therapy session because they don’t know where else to get help for their heartbroken American daughter who’s struggling through this devastating situation. How Gita comes to accept this loss and learns to move on forms the crux of Indian American actor-producer-writer Puja Mohindra’s new Web-series, “Geeta’s Guide to Moving On.”
After being screened to glowing reviews at the 2016 New York Television Festival and the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, the show premiered at the Chicago Cultural Center May 24. The contemporary drama, which went live May 25 on Open TV (Beta), is now available for streaming.
“The story is universal, it’s just told through a cultural specific lens,” Mohindra told India-West about the show, which was also in the final consideration for the Sundance YouTube Lab. “Literally every human on the planet goes through a loss; how universal loss is…it could be a partner, a parent, a pet, a job; nobody of any race, background or age is not prone to love at some point in life.”
Describing the series as a “comedy with a heart,” Mohindra noted that the more she shared this one girl’s journey to move on, the more she learnt about the strength of the human spirit.
“More and more people shared their stories with us, which goes on to prove that how resilient human spirit is and how common are own humanity is, because everybody is affected by this one human experience and everyone has to learn to move on,” said Mohindra, who, in the past, co-created “Friendly Confines,” which earned the award for Best Comedy Writing and Best Ensemble Acting at the 2013 LA Web Series Festival.
According to her, the show is about “finding the beauty and the messiness of life, discovering the opportunity for growth in our toughest and most disappointing experiences.”
“It’s about having the courage to let go, radically accept and be our most authentic selves,” Mohindra explained to India-West.
Mohindra, known for her roles on TV shows such as “Empire,” “Chicago Fire,” “Undercovers,” “CSI: Miami,” “Miami Medical” and “Ghost Whisperer,” said she believes that though “Geeta’s Guide to Moving On” captures the voice of an Indian American woman and her community, its themes are universal.
The 12-episode series features a family of five, which comprises of Gita, her Indian American parents, her brother Rohan, her sister Sabrina and her brother-in-law Ted. Also, central to the show is Gita’s African American best friend, Akua, who hasn’t been on a date in ten years.
“These two best friends go on parallel journeys and Gita’s is about becoming self-sufficient and embracing her single identity and her friend’s is about opening her heart to love,” Mohindra told India-West.
As a writer on the show, Mohindra’s vivid imagination synthesized with reality creates many memorable moments.
While detailing this overwhelming experience of heartbreak, Mohindra is careful to offset the seriousness by sprinkling in lots of fun quips and accessible jokes, making this a light-hearted comedy worth a watch. A special mention should be made for the “aunties” on the show, who provide added comic relief.
The idea germinated in Mohindra’s mind when she was writing a one-woman show, “A Great Dive,” and “Geeta’s Guide to Moving On” is an extension of that show, she explained.
While the characters and setting are fictional, Mohindra does draw upon a few references from her personal life. Feeling dejected after her own break-up, Mohindra said she, too, moved in with her parents, though she had been contemplating that move even before her break-up.
Apart from attempting to weave in her personal emotions to the storyline, the Chicago, Illinois, native tried to project the heartache the parents go through while their child is dealing with something catastrophic.
“My parents struggled to understand what I was going through as they’d had an arranged marriage and they never went through a break-up,” she recalled to India-West. “As I started writing, I realized that there is an inherent conflict between East and the West when it comes to love.”
On the way, she also figured that not being able to comprehend the tangled web of emotions was not singular to her parents.
“I’ve always thought that my Indian American family is a modern American family, a relatable family and you see past their brown skin,” Mohindra stated. “It didn’t occur to me until I went through it that how difficult it is for our parents to understand…most of the parents of the first-generation kids did not have the opportunity to fall in love and they often did not have a break-up.”
Mohindra confessed that it’s not an easy story to tell, but she felt compelled to tell this story as there are so many people out there going through their own heartaches.
“If this story can help them get through it, make them less alone, uplift them, then the project would have served its purpose,” she said.
The first three episodes of the Web-series can be viewed here.