5:46pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Satya Bhabha on His Status as 'New Girl's' Other Man, Arranged Marriage and Taylor Swift
While New Girl keeps steering the Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) relationship in a more and more flirtatious direction, lingering hopes for Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) seem to be shrinking in the rear-view mirror.
Cece's fiance Shivrang (Satya Bhabha) has seen his screen time upped since he was introduced in January -- and that shows no signs of slowing with their wedding set for the May 14 season finale.
"People seem to be very uncomfortable with Cece ending up with an Indian guy," Bhabha tells The Hollywood Reporter, though he has not encountered the kind of negative feedback Simone has previously endured for Schmidt and Cece's onscreen troubles. "The writers have done a pretty good job of keeping their cards close to the chest. You feel, as a fan of the show, that you want Cece and Schmidt to stick it out -- but it's also hard to find major flaws with Shivrang and Cece's relationship."
It did not start out that way for Bhabha, who auditioned for a one-off part on the show -- the latest in a run of potential "arranged" suitors for Cece. "Initially he was written as maybe a little hypersensitive, almost the anti-Schmidt," says Bhabha, "but I think more layers of Shivrang's character have come to light."
Bhabha, who also stars in the big-screen adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (out April 26), has little familiarity with arranged marriages. He grew up in London, his mother is Italian and his father is Indian.
"Modern-day arranged marriages happen frequently in America," says Bhabha, who says he learned more about the practice going to school in the U.S., "but they're less arranged than they are introduced or set up."
The marriage of Cece and Shivrang also is shaping up to be the TV nuptials of the spring. As THR first reported, Taylor Swift makes a cameo at the big event playing an "important guest."
"She was fantastic, a lot of fun," says Bhabha. "It's quite a jokey set, and it's a bit of trial by fire. She jumped in the deep end and it ended up being a real blast."
As for his favorite scenes from shooting the series, Bhabha teases something about a white horse appearing in an upcoming episode -- but notes that Tuesday's "Bachelorette Party" also ranks very high.
"Nick and Winston [Lamorne Morris] have this awkward, stilted guys night out with Shivrang," he says. "I think they're trying to show me a good time and they just want to go back to the loft. There's a lot of fun in getting to be able to play the dunce a little bit. And walking into the loft to see a life-size cutout of myself with a big target over my genitalia and the girls playing 'Pin the Dong on Shivrang,' that was a pretty random moment."