“A Wrinkle in Time” is a time-travel saga of hope, courage, love, and strength. This film is about finding light in the darkest hour — a message that resonates beyond the plot of the story to the lives of every individual watching the film.
With this axiom in mind, it is intriguing to note that the movie’s cast and crew are in itself an anomaly. Just in case you have been living under a rock, the star-studded film features the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, Storm Reid, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Pena, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, and Zack Galifianakis; perhaps, one of the first Disney films with a cast that challenges the typically held low ratio of people of colur in one movie to a much larger extent.
Directed by Ava DuVernay, “A Wrinkle in Time” encapsulates the magic of reaching out to the universe and shunning negativity through the story of Meg Murray and Charles Wallace who are in search of their missing father. Releasing on international women’s day this film was genuinely an ode to women’s progress, specifically women of colour in film. For Mindy Kaling fans like myself, it was one of the most awaited films of the year!
Yet, despite the positive aspects of the film such as the amazing cast and touching storyline, several shortcomings limit its ability to significantly influence viewers. Number one, where is Mindy Kaling’s voice? For someone who solely decided to watch the film as a Kaling fan, it was disappointing to hear a minimum number of words sporadically uttered by her in the movie.
Anyone who ever watched the Mindy Project is used to Kaling say a lot more, so it felt strange to watch her quietly remain present throughout the movie (to be clear I did not expect her to be typecast but it would have been nice if her character was given more of an identity). She looks beautiful and certainly conveys a nurturing quality and presence; however, fans are left craving for much more of Kaling in the film. Her character remains obscure and unfounded with few words of wisdom to share.
In fact, there was a lot of hype surrounding all three of the Mrs.’ before the release; a set of Mattel dolls representing Kaling, Winfrey, and Witherspoon were launched, and all three women were featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Consequently, I expected a stronger presence from them which fell short. Reese Witherspoon was the only Mrs.’ that I felt had a specified identity with some sort of character flaws and development.
As soon as Oprah appears in the story, she is presented as an absolute goddess — which is no surprise — but even with a more dominating character, there is still a lack of oomph that can be partially attributed to the types of dialogue (or lack thereof). I expected a level of mysticism from the three Mrs.’, yet cutting dialogue to capture a sense of ambiguity for the roles was not a wholly successful approach. There was just something missing in the Mrs.,” especially given the well-established actresses that were cast. These women remained more of a nominal representation.
Aside from the Mrs.’, Storm Reid and Deric McCabe led the plot and gave “A Wrinkle in Time” a sense of personal character that was missing with most of the other roles. The family narrative that unfolds is certainly the film’s strength, especially the bond shared between brother and sister. The storyline concentrates on Reid’s journey to conquer her inner demons, which is in some ways a new take on other Disney films. There is a sense of Zen that truly sets the film apart, which I absolutely loved. The younger generation today is faced with multiple forms of pressure, and if they feel excluded at school that does not necessarily end with the school day and may follow them home on social media.
This is an important movie because it comprehends and adequately comments on the issues of the day without directly mentioning them. Hence, it is relevant and pertinent. For those in search of a more dramatic plot, this may not be an ideal film, but personally I have a significant appreciation for lessons that will foster young minds to embrace positivity over negativity.
For instance, in the film, the evil on the planet that they travel to gains power from insecurities, teaching Meg to accept the gift of her faults. In today’s day and age, when vainness appears to have taken hold, this film challenges perceptions that an individual’s self-worth should be associated with their looks or traits. It takes many a lifetime to learn to look past their insecurities and achieve a peace of mind whilst surrounded by all sorts of negativity whether it affects them through jealously, hatred, anger, and/or violence; however, this movie teaches individuals to oust that negative energy and persevere.
Overall, I enjoyed “A Wrinkle in Time,” and I thought the storyline was adorable with imperative lessons for not only young minds, but also for adults who have forgotten the importance of basic values, like embracing a positive mindset. With depression and other mental health issues on the rise, I can personally attest that learning to find the light inside of you at the darkest of times is the toughest thing that we must all repeatedly learn to accomplish in life.
It is incredible to think that the younger generation today has the chance to view the world full of color and recognize people who look like them on screen, which so many of us never had the chance to do when we were growing up in the western world. Overlooking its flaws, this film remains vital with an overwhelming amount of significance for all women of color. Perhaps “A Wrinkle in Time” will prove to be prescient for women of color in the future.
Rishma Johal graduated from Simon Fraser University with a M.A. in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and B.A. in History. Rishma is an anti-racist feminist as well as an advocate for intersectionality and social justice. Her research is aimed at enacting social change as is her photography and video work. Rishma has also hosted television programs, radio shows, live events, and presented at numerous conferences. She loves dancing, has a knack for acting and is a complete Bollywood fanatic!
March 20, 2023March 29, 2023 3min readBy Rasha Goel
Award-winning commercial real estate and land consultant in Arizona, Anita Verma-Lallian, is venturing into the world of entertainment with her newfound production house, Camelback Productions, making her the first South Asian female in the state to do so. Verma-Lallian is a woman used to paving her own way, and now she’s committed to doing it for future generations.
Through her production company, she aims to contribute towards greater South Asian representation in mainstream media with a focus on storytelling that’s relevant to the community. In a conversation with Brown Girl Magazine, the real estate maven spoke about what inspired her to shift from investing in land to investing in creative dreams.
Tell us more about Camelback Productions and what your hopes are for the company?
The intention is to help communities that are not being represented in the media. As you know, there are a lot more streamers looking for content so that presents an interesting opportunity for people to tell stories that are otherwise not being told.
For us it’s important to tell these stories that aren’t being told, and tell them in the way that we want them to be told. With South Asians, for instance, the roles typically given are stereotypical. There are only four or five roles we are playing repeatedly. I want to show the South Asian community and culture in a different way.
You come from a business and investor background. I am curious to know what catapulted your interest towards establishing a production company?
Good question. There were a few things that inspired my interest. I was looking to diversify the different opportunities we offered our investors. We’ve done a lot of real estate, so we were overall looking for different investment opportunities. And then, at the time when I started exploring this, the real estate market was in this wait-and-see for many people.
Everyone was sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens next. There was a slowdown at the end of 2022 which is when I started looking into this more. Film seemed like it was kind of recession-proof and not really tied to what’s happening in the economy, which I thought was refreshing and exciting.
Also, overall, I observed what was happening in the industry with there being a push to see more South Asians in the media. The timing felt right, and I think we’re moving in the right direction.
Good stories and good quality scripts. We are looking at all types of content — movies, docu-series, comedy shows, and reality shows. We’re open to anything that has a good message.
On a personal level, what hits home for you with this production company?
Growing up I always loved film and TV. We watched a lot of Bollywood movies because that’s what we related to and I always loved that. But I did feel there wasn’t a lot of representation of people that looked like me. Being able to change that — especially after having kids, and a daughter who wants to go into film — is important for. It’s a contribution for future generations. It’s important to me that as they grow up, they see people that look just like them.
Is there a significance to the name Camelback?
Yes! Camelback Mountain is a very iconic mountain in Phoenix.It’s one of the most famous hikes we have here and a relatively challenging one.
The significance is being able to overcome challenges and barriers. I have a nice view of Camelback Mountain and it’s something I look at every day, when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. It has a very calming and grounding presence.
To me the mountains signify being grounded and not being able to be moved by external factors. That’s what I want this production company to be!
What would you advise people interested in entering the entertainment industry?
The best advice I would give someone is to align yourself with people that you know are experts in the industry; that have a good track record. Learn from as many people as you can.I learn as much as I can, talk to as many people as I can, and I study different things to understand what was and wasn’t successful.
“After so Long” is a poetry film created for Simha’s EP, which is streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. The poem was collaboratively written by Simha, a U.S. native, and Jae, who is based in India, during the 2020 lockdown. “After so Long” was recited by Simha and their parents. In 2022, I directed and produced the film through my studio, Star Hopper. “After so Long” premiered on Nowness Asia in March 2022.
This film is a worldwide collaboration among trans and queer south-Asian artists from the United States, India and Canada. It was recorded, shot and filmed during the lockdown of 2020 and 2021.
Awake at 10 am but out of bed at noon,
I want to be here where I lose myself in these sheets
Glancing through half-shut eyes
At the gold pressing past my window
The glimmer remarks on the ledge of my bed
But the voices are so loud
Like dust collecting in the corner of my room
I am unaware to why I’m still here
With the chilling doubt of the breeze…
I’m swept into lucidity After so long
Mil rahi hoon mein aaj iske saang barso baad,
(Today, I’ll be meeting them after so long)
Koi paata nahi diya tune
(But with no destination sight,)
(What should I do?)
(Where should I go?)
Shayad agar mein chalne lagoon,
(Perhaps, if I keep walking)
Inn yaadon ki safar mein
(Down this road of memories)
Mujhe samajh mein ayega,
(I will find out)
Yeh rasta kahaan jayega,
(Where this road leads)
Inn aari tedhi pakadandiyon pe baarte hi jaana hai,
(Through the twists and turns of this winding roads, I must keep going on)
Mujhe mil na hain aaj uske saath,
(I wish to meet them today)
(After so long)
I feel like I’m retracing my footsteps
From these concrete stretches
To broken cement walls
Chips and cracks forge their way for new designs
I see the old abandoned buildings
That once held the warmth of bodies
Now just hold memories
Supporting the nature’s resilience
In vines and moss
After so long
Dhoondli shishe mein jaaga leli hai
(These isty mirrors have offered refuge)
Bikhri hui laatao ne,
(To these scattered vines)
Zameen pe uchi ghaas pe
(Amidst the tall grass stretching from the ground)
Lehrati kamsan kaliyaa
(The swaying little buds)
Bheeni bheeni khushboo bikhereti
(Spreading honeysuckle scent through the air)
Phir wahi mausam,
(I lose myself in reminiscing, the same season)
(The same heart)
(After so long)
Phir bhi mein chal rahi hoon aaj
(Still, I keep carrying on today)
Khudko khudse milane ke liye
(In the pursuit of my higher self)
Inn galiyo se guzarna hain aaj
(I must pass through these streets today)
Chaalte chaale jaana hai aaj
(I must keep going on today)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor paar
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
(After so long)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor pe
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
(After so long)
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For any of us who have siblings, the relationship with them can be one of the most fulfilling ones. And also one of the most bloody frustrating. No one can quite stroke the fire like someone who knows you extremely well, or sometimes not, but have a familial bond with that neither one of you chose. In “Polite Society,“directed by Nida Manzoor, sisters Ria Khan and Lena Khan’s loving, sweet, and sometimes tumultuous relationship takes center stage.
Played delightfully by Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya, respectively, the evolution of their relationship is one of the film’s greatest and simultaneously weakest points. It’s also pretty cool to see two South Asian actresses in an action-comedy movie — how refreshing it is to mention the art of choreography and praise it in regards to fight sequences vs. dance sequences for a film centered on two South Asian women — that itself shows progress.
Set in London, Ria is an aspiring stunt woman who already shows massive talent in martial arts. She looks up to her older sister Lena, who is enrolled in art school and, also holds remarkable potential in a somewhat less traditionally acceptable field. Their relationship starts off as supportive and sweet with no inclinations of jealousy or resentment that sometimes plagues sisterly bonds. But this also means that they are quite protective of one another, almost to the detriment of their well wishes for each other.
This all happens when Lena gets engaged after dropping out of art school. Ria feels betrayed. They were supposed to be on this journey together in fighting for their dreams. Ria decides that she knows what’s best for her sister and enlists the help of her friends to rescue the damsel in distress from her own wedding. Her deep animosity towards the prospect of Lena getting married is also fueled by Lena’s fiancé and his mother acting extremely suspiciously. The twist that ultimately brings the two sisters back together is both shocking and weirdly somewhat progressive in the motive behind the villain’s origin story. But the twist, unfortunately, is too ambitious for the movie as it tacks on another genre and theme earnestly, but still clunkily.
“Polite Society” tackles not only what it means to fight for one’s dreams but also what it means to have just one ardent supporter. As Lady Gaga famously said, “There can be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life.” Well, Ria’s Bradley Cooper was her very own sister who seemed to abandon her, and her faith in her, when she chose a different path. For Lena, the film opened up the question of marriage and the weight it bears in the life of a South Asian woman. Ria’s lack of understanding of the pressure it places on Lena is the start of the change in their relationship — the start of Ria’s coming of age and the start of Lena settling firmly into her adulthood.
Standouts from the cast include Ria’s best friends, played by Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri, who commit to the story and characters with such hilarity and conviction. They add the lightheartedness and playfulness the film needs, and it is refreshing that never once do they use Ria’s cultural background as a way to make fun of her or dismiss her.
It is also heartening to see Lena and Ria’s parents being some of the most supportive South Asian parents seen on screen. At the end of the day, it is not the external family pressure that impacts the decisions made by the sisters but rather their own satisfaction, or lack thereof, with their own lives that become the driving force of their actions.
“Polite Society” is written and directed by a South Asian woman for South Asian women, and is definitely worth a watch when it releases in theaters this April.