It was certainly a family affair over at Dunder Mifflin.
In case you didn't know, Mindy Kaling actually enlisted her own parents to play the parts of Kelly Kapoor's mom and dad during the Season 3 episode "Diwali." If your mind is blown right now, you're not alone—I totally had no idea, either! The Emmy nominee recently opened up about the iconic episode, which she wrote, during an appearance on Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey's podcast Office Ladies. As reported by Mashable, the acclaimed writer said she felt "lucky" for the experience.
"I have to say, I feel really lucky that Greg [Daniels] wanted to do this episode," Kaling admitted. "Angela was on my most recent show [Never Have I Ever on Netflix] and we did an episode about Ganesh Puja. There's so many more shows on the air with diverse casts and everything, but the fact that [The Office episode aired] on prime time television [in 2006]... That's cool! Go us for doing that!"
The writer/actress went on to explain that she was surprised Daniels wanted her to write the episode when she didn't even know too much about the holiday, either. "One of the harder things when you write the 'Diwali' episode is that we couldn't believe Greg said yes," she continued. "I had to kind of confront the fact that I'm Indian-American, I don't know very much about the holiday, and the bad experience of being Indian-American and talking about how you don't know very much about the holiday kind of became a big part of the episode, which I loved."
And when it came down to casting Kelly's parents, Kaling didn't have her own on her mind at first. "We only cast my parents in it, which just seems like a complete act of nepotism and favoritism, because we had auditioned the parts and Greg felt that the actors we found in that age group were either too theatrical for the style of acting on our show, or too stilted, because they had no acting experience," she explained. "Now, I'm the first to say that my parents' acting was also very stilted, but [Greg] was like, 'At least they bear some familial resemblance to you, so we'll put them in there.'"
Unfortunately, Kaling's mom, Dr. Swati Chokalingam, passed away in 2012 after suffering from pancreatic cancer. Her dad, Avu Chokalingam, is still loving his Office fame, however. Kaling said he still receives residual checks from the episode, and that it's, "like the thing he's most proud of."
After learning this heartfelt behind-the-scenes info, naturally we've all got to watch "Diwali" one more time!