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‘This is really us’: Family that runs bridal shop in Toronto’s Little India … – CBC.ca

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South Asian family that runs Toronto bridal shop featured in new CBC docu-series

Bollywed is centred on the Singh family, which has been operating an iconic bridal shop in Toronto’s Little India for nearly 40 years. The series shines a light on the world of South Asian culture and fashion while reflecting on the Canadian immigrant family experience.

Canadians are getting an inside look at the world of Indian weddings in all their sequined glory — courtesy of a new CBC docu-series featuring a South Asian family that has run a bridal shop for 37 years.

For members of the Singh family, Bollywed showcases a Canadian immigrant family and the challenges of running an intergenerational business in Toronto’s Little India.

The series features Jatinder Pal Singh, known as Kuki, and his wife, Sarabjeet Singh, known as Sarab, along with their two children Chandan and Chandni, and daughter-in-law Roop. They operate Chandan Fashion on Gerrard Street East.

They say the series, which debuted on CBC TV on Thursday at 8:00 pm with back-to-back episodes for five weeks, shines a spotlight on their family, on fashion, on Indian weddings and on India itself. Episodes can be streamed on CBC Gem.

“We want to tell the whole world what India is,” said Sarab.

“I think we are doing a part of a community service also to show the whole world how India does its own weddings and what its culture is.”

The Singh family stands  on the streetin front of their shop in Toronto's Little India. Son Chandan, daughter Chandni, father Kuki, mom Sarab and daughter-in-law Roop. The family is dressed in blue saris and blue suits.

The Singh family stands in front of their shop in Toronto’s Little India. From left to right: Son Chandan, daughter Chandni, father Kuki, mom Sarab and daughter-in-law Roop. (Rakesh Sidana)

The Singh’s store, which opened in 1985, sells wedding wear and party wear, as well as accessories for women and men.

Sarab said the show provides a glimpse into the workings of a family-run clothing store, highlighting the different approaches by family members to running a business. She said old school methods meet new school ways in the show.

For their part, the younger members of the family said it’s important to remember the series depicts a real family.

‘We’re real people’

Chandan, the son, said the series features a family that is “very relatable to a lot of people.”

“As much as we look different, I think a lot of people will see the show and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, my dad does this all the time to me,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, my mom is like this, totally,'” he said.

“You are going to see a lot of … us on the show that is really going to be relatable because we’re real people,” Chandan added. 

“We are not paid actors or actresses. This is really us. And we’ve been able to have the lovely opportunity to have a camera stuck in our store for six months and kind of just film us as we go about our everyday lives.”

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Jatinder Pal Singh, known as Kuki, and Sarabjeet Singh, known as Sarab, are interviewed in their store, Chandan Fashion, on Gerrard Street East. (CBC)

Chandni, the daughter, said: “It really is the perfect blend of family working together meets Bollywood fashion.”

She added that her father has “spectacular fashion sense” and it’s not surprising that he now has his own reality TV show.

“Customers would come in just to see what Mr. Singh is wearing today and then they’d go off to have dinner just down the street. I think Dad is one of the reasons why we have a show today.”

Representation on Canadian TV important, son says

Chandan said the show underlines how important it is to have representation on Canadian TV.

“Although we’re super blessed now — here in the suburbs, we have Brampton, Mississauga has exploded with a South Asian population — it wasn’t like that when I was born here,” he said. 

“For me, I was born in Toronto, and for 12 years of my life, I went to one school. I was the only person in my whole school that was a Sikh and I didn’t have anybody that looked like me … And I’m sure if I saw someone like me on TV, I would have had a lot more easier childhood growing up than what I had,” he added.

“To see someone on TV that looks different and that is in a prominent show like this, I think it will change people’s lives.”

Bollywed

Meet the Singh family, left to right: daughter Chandni, daugher-in-law Roop, son Chandan, father Kuki and mother Sarab. (Rakesh Sidana)