Monica Luhar for NBC News Asian America, November 13, 2015
“The Keswanis: A Most Modern Family” is a web series that puts the spotlight on an Indian-American family from San Diego, Calif.
The web series, which was produced by PEOPLE.com, stars “Vine superstar” BigNik, “momager” Vaishali, “Dr. Dad” Anil, “pageant rookie” Sarina, and six-year-old “transgender princess” Devina.
Anil Keswani told NBC News that he hopes the three-part series will not be sensationalized or seen solely as reality television. “The reality is that’s not how we’re trying to portray or position ourselves,” he told NBC News. “We celebrate our children and their uniqueness.”
Anil said he hopes the series will spread a new sense of awareness and, instead, encourage parents to reflect about their own children.
“If you support your children and their ways, and give them structure and support them, they will excel in many ways. I think that’s the biggest challenge,” he added.
The first of three episodes focuses on 17-year-old Nik, known as BigNik on his Vine channel, which has nearly 3 million followers. He was born with a rare form of dwarfism and has gone through dozens of surgeries.
“One day I decided to get in front of the camera, and I felt different, I felt like I had a voice,” Nik told PEOPLE.com.
Nik turned to making six second-long Vine videos, which instantly became a hit.
“One day I just got really bored, I was sitting in my wheelchair and started making a video,” Nik told People.com “Two months later, it blew up and that’s how I kinda started Vine.”
The second episode follows the story of Sarina, an introverted teenager and also the middle child of the family who has chosen to enter the world of pageantry.
“I’m more of an introvert. My mom and my brother and Devina are more like confident, they are more out there, they have really big personalities,” Sarina told PEOPLE.com.
In the third episode of the series, the spotlight is on Devina, a six-year-old transgender female and also the youngest of two siblings. In an interview with PEOPLE.com, parents Vaishali and Anil said it was a journey to understanding their child.
“He would pick up dolls and we would take them and hide them, and just snatch them out of his hand. I didn’t understand what was happening to my boy,” Vaishali said. “It just hit me that my child is a girl. […] When you are the parent of a transgender child, you lose that child you thought you had. It’s like a death, and a birth of another and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a huge adjustment.”
In the series, Devina opens up about bullies and being targeted by a classmate who she says spat at her and pushed her for being transgender. Devina, a proud Girl Scout, isn’t letting that incident get under her skin. She’s speaking out against bullying at her school:
“There’s a lot of people who are transgender. And I’m deciding to do a speech about it and tell my whole school about it,” Devina told PEOPLE.com.