“Jinn” A Film About Your Childhood Nightmare

Jinn poster

by Hera Ashraf 

I remember visiting my parents’ old village in India and seeing houses that were locked up and deserted. We were forbidden to enter because of rumors of the presence of jinn. This Friday, director and write Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad, brings these unseen beings many of us grew up hearing about to life, in the film “Jinn.”

Growing up, Ahmad remembers his mom convincing him to eat his vegetables, by saying the jinn would get him if he didn’t finish them.

“That scared the heck out me when I was nine, but I remember thinking, how come no one has made a movie on jinn?” Ahmad says.

This question has remained with him since he was a kid and led to the inspiration behind this movie.

“Jinn” revolves around a newlywed young man who ignores cryptic messages of a curse that has followed his family for generations. He doesn’t believe in the curse until strange things start to happen, and he is forced to turn to strangers, who claim to have the answers, for help in order to save his life.

Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad
Director of “Jinn” Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad
Photo Credit: Exxodus Pictures

Although there are plenty of horror movies revolving around the supernatural and evil spirits, Ahmad says that “Jinn” is different because it centers around this concept of jinn that is unfamiliar in the West. Ahmad and his team did extensive research to create an authentic story that adhered to old beliefs and presented the idea in a new way. They collected stories from people of different cultural, national, and religious backgrounds, and studied texts to learn as much as possible about jinn. These stories are what makes “Jinn” unique from other supernatural movies.

Ahmad hopes that the film will start new dialogue in film making and entertainment in America, especially for the South Asian demographic.

“I want audiences, of course to be entertained, but there is a deeper hope as well, especially for ‘brown’ people,” Ahmad says. “We hope, for the first time, they watch a movie made in America that doesn’t make the ‘brown’ character a 7-11 owner, nerd or terrorist. In fact, it makes the brown guy a hero.”

You can catch “Jinn” in theaters nationwide and in Canada, this Friday on April 4!

Jinn is rated PG-13 and opens in U.S. theaters on April 4, 2014.

For more information on the film, visit: www.jinnthemovie.com

Like “Jinn” on Facebook or follow them on Twitter! Hashtag: #jinn

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

Deepa Prashad: Meet the Breakout Indo Caribbean Host Conquering Media and Sexism

Deepa Prashad
Deepa Prashad | Photo Credit: Talha Tabish

The expansion of digital content across radio, television and the internet has allowed audiences to engage with media rapidly. As technology advances, the entertainment industry has grown exponentially and people have a wealth of information at their fingertips in the blink of an eye. Since high school, Deepa Prashad was fascinated by this power of media and aspired to be an on-air personality who could interact with viewers through creative content whilst representing her Indo Caribbean heritage. After navigating the competitiveness of Canadian broadcast hosting for seven years, Prashad continues to push herself into various modalities of media and add to her growing successes, while championing others to share their own authentic content.

 

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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

[Read Related: Nancy Jay: Meet the Indo Caribbean Influencer Breaking the Mold]

Self-confidence and the desire to show a different perspective on entertainment prompted Prashad to be interested in broadcasting. While initially nervous about her family’s reaction to a nontraditional career path for Indo Caribbean women, Prashad received her parents’ full support and became the first person in her family to study broadcasting at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

She began applying for television-hosting positions in her first year despite not having any experience or a finished degree, affirming, “I totally believed in myself and my capabilities.” 

In an interview with Prashad, we delve into her career path, diverse representation in media and her courage to create and promote content that reflects her individuality.

How did you begin your career in hosting and digital content production?

The kids channel I watched growing up, The Family Channel, was doing a nationwide casting call for their new TV host. The host would host interstitials between shows, digital series, and do TV show and movie interviews. I didn’t have an agent at the time so I applied on my own. I was called in for my first audition ever and it was quite shocking. A room full of 10 to 15 people just observing me as I delivered lines and did mock interviews for fake shows. Two months later, I was officially cast as the host of The Family Channel!

While ecstatic about her first job, Prashad was met with racism. She stated, 

Someone else, who applied for the position, made it a point to come up to me in person to say that they hoped I knew the only reason I got the job was because I was brown and the company obviously just needed to fill a quota.

Brushing the words aside, she continued hosting on The Family Channel for five years. She has also worked as an entertainment and food reporter on Canadian shows, Breakfast Television and Cityline. By advocating for herself as capable, personable and multifaceted, she did not shy away from new opportunities to advance her career and showcased herself as a leader who could resonate with broad audiences. 

 

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Wanting to explore new horizons, Prashad approached the social media company blogTO and pitched herself to be their first full-time video host focusing on Toronto food hotspots. After being hired, she visited multiple restaurants daily to host, film and edit her own content and curated personalized food videos for viewers to immerse themselves in. Prashad later forayed into the world of radio, one she never thought she would join but quickly fell in love with. She was most recently the first female voice on Toronto’s KISS 92.5 channels, The Roz and Mocha Show. Prashad enjoyed the greater flexibility of being on the radio compared to television and video hosting,

All I had to present was me. It became such a personal experience for me getting on that mic, sharing stories with listeners about the way I was raised, coming from a Guyanese household, being part of an (interfaiths marriage), [etc…] That created an incredibly strong bond between myself, our listeners and our friends that I’m so grateful for.

Tell us about your current position.

“I’m moving onto new adventures now and adding sports reporting under my belt. I will be joining BarDown | TSN to cover Formula 1, this includes doing content for TSN in the digital and TV space. I’ve never dabbled in the world of sports, so this is going to be an interesting new road for me.”

What topics are you most passionate about when creating digital content and why?

Food has to be my number one passion when it comes to digital content. Obviously I love eating and trying new things, but food is such a universal language. It connects people, it excites people and often teaches people about different cultures. I love to see how that content can generate conversations and I love to see when people admit they’ve never tried that particular food or cuisine, but added it to their list.

I also love creating Formula 1 content because Formula 1 is a massive passion of mine! I currently Twitch stream playing the Formula 1 video game F1 22. I’ve been on a pursuit to continuously learn more about the sport and to even get better at the game, because let’s be real, I’m terrible at it but I’m also OK with that!

Prashad is not immune to online mockery and negative comments about her work. When making the switch to Formula 1, she was ridiculed by some male viewers over her love of the sport and was inundated with comments like “Go back to the dishes” or “Go do laundry where you belong.” Antiquated and sexist notions about being a working woman in the media led to her looks being graded; there were comments regarding her extroverted personality and rampant discussions over her weight. There was a moment in her career where Prashad admits,

I actually wanted to make changes to myself — try to be a little less outgoing, not be so loud, change my hosting style from this incredibly bubbly style to a more laid back informative take.

Drawing on her self-belief, she soon realized that, “This doesn’t work for me. I began to appreciate all my quirks.” 

 

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Is there an area of hosting or content production that you believe you’re better at? 

I really love to host digital content in particular because there’s a certain freedom that comes with it. I don’t always have to be prim and proper like sometimes I do need to do for TV. I can be me — loud, goofy, and incredibly dorky. I never want to have two different personas — one for the public eye, and then a private. On social media, what you see is exactly what you get. Digital content has allowed me to love myself even more.

Prashad plans to continue in the industry for the foreseeable future. She recognizes the impact of being an Indo Caribbean woman at the forefront of media and defines her success as “…I can continue to represent my culture and how I make others feel.” Her best moments are connecting with others through their lived experiences and offering a different lens on growing up in Canada. 

How did you feel breaking into the industry as a woman of color? 

What a great feeling that was, and even better, being an Indo Caribbean woman. I went through my fair share of hardships. I’ve faced racism, sexism and bullying throughout my journey of getting to where I am today. But, I have stood up for myself every single time. I will never allow myself to be walked all over.  And believe me, people have attempted MANY times. But I pick myself back up and continue along my way. 

I think it really hit me that I was making an impact when I started to hear from people how much they related to my childhood stories, the way I was brought up, the movies I watched as a kid. It’s those moments that made me realize I accomplished my goal.

 

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A post shared by Deepa Prashad (@deepaprashad1)

How has your background influenced your interest in hosting and digital content production?

I never saw people like me in the media growing up. I always wanted to change that. I didn’t feel that I had anyone I could personally connect with when I watched TV. And to me that was always so mind blowing because the media, although so broad, is such a personal industry. 

I have always been proud to say on air that I’m a Guyanese woman. I have made it a point to fight for more Caribbean content on air. I’ve made it a point to share stories about my family, where they came from, and even the experiences I’ve had growing up in a Guyanese family. Promoting Caribbean culture in general has always been important to me. And progress has been made! At my previous radio job, I pushed incredibly hard to start interviewing Caribbean artists and to highlight them. I had the opportunity to interview artists like Sean Paul, Kes and Konshens and those interviews aired nationally which was massive.

 

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Prashad often infuses cultural content into her work by showcasing Indian and Caribbean food, offering Bollywood movie recommendations, detailing her trips to Guyana, talking about new music and sharing information about Caribbean events in Toronto. She does not believe that cultural content needs to be pared down for the masses but instead advocates for aspiring Indo Caribbean creators to keep releasing diverse and authentic content that is representative of themselves.

She notes that the Indo Caribbean experience is not a monolith and that,

We need more representation! What feels most authentic to you can be vastly different from other content creators. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way of creating content, but the best version of content you’re going to create is when you’re being true to who you are, and having fun.

At only 27 years old, Prashad’s journey has taken her across multiple forms of media. From interviewing Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities to hosting various television shows and being an online and radio voice, she continues to explore different mediums as a means of storytelling and connection. Hardships were plenty during Prashad’s rise to fame, but a steady belief in herself and a willingness to take on new endeavors with authenticity have provided her the grit to overcome challenges. 

Prashad is eagerly awaiting to leap into her next digital venture and is actively commending more Indo Caribbean content creators to step into the spotlight with their own personal stories.  

By Priya Deonarine

Priya D. Deonarine, M.S, NCSP, is the quintessential Pisces who has been dramatically shaped by her experiences and emotions. She … Read more ›

‘Made in Heaven’ Season 2: The Return of Grand Weddings and Grander Morals

made in heaven

Pairs are made in heaven, and who better than the “Made in Heaven” expert crew to bring them together? Gracing our screen after three years, Zoya Akhtar’s brainchild “Made in Heaven” returned to Prime Video on Aug. 10 with seven episodes.

Set six months after the first season, Tara and Karan (played by Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur) return with their original crew to plan magnificent weddings.

Although grand weddings are at the forefront of the show, there are multiple subplots to keep you hooked — maybe even shed a tear or two. The crux of the storyline is still Tara and Karan’s lives as we see them on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to manage their erratic personal lives.

[Read Related: ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’: A Perfect K Jo Showcase Celebrating the Filmmaker’s 25 Years in Cinema]

Keeping true to its spell-binding depiction of weddings, love and relationships, every episode explores a challenge that is deep-rooted in South Asian norms and behaviors. With Kabir Batra’s (played by Shashank Arora) voiceover — who’s also the photographer and videographer for the Made in Heaven company — this season makes us question whether the core of a marriage is love or flamboyance.

 

The season-opening leaves you mesmerized and wanting to fall in love; the extravagant set and a glamorous display of high fashion are true inspirations for whenever there’s a wedding in the family. The artistic works Sabyasachi, Gaurav Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani, and many more, steal the show; their trendsetting designs are a sight for sore eyes.

While this season brings forth many new faces as supporting characters, such as Dia Mirza and Sanjay Kapur, we also have some new members joining the original crew of “Made in Heaven.” 

Mona Singh enters as Bulbul, wife of Jauhari (played by Vijay Raaz). She is introduced as a domineering auditor but as the show progresses, we witness the many layers of her character unravel; including that of a strong matriarch. One of the most compelling aspects of the show is her fight to save her son — who gets involved in a case of school harassment — and her and Jauhari’s approach and sensitivity toward the situation.

With her outstanding acting, Singh breathes life into the character. She exudes the panache of a businesswoman while perfectly depicting the complexities of a strong woman with a violent past — the mystery of which we learn as we move toward the end of the show. 

Bulbul, however, is not the only new character on the show. Played by Trinetra Haldar Gummaraju, Meher is a trans woman in search of love and companionship. With Meher’s character, the makers have brilliantly opened the doors for more inclusive stories to come to the fore.

[Read Related: Joyland: A Film Rising Above Unacceptability With a Story of Acceptance]

While each episode is a different story tackling some of the greatest shortcomings of our society, the lives of Tara and Karan remain at the center of it all; their characters evolving with every new challenge that is thrown at them. We see Tara “drop” from her previous known status of being a Khanna to just being Tara. Her story is one of identity, ownership and self-discovery; Karan’s, on the other had, is that of grief as we see him grapple with finding acceptance and drug abuse. Their struggles add substance to their characters navigating the privileged world; gravely reminding us of all that’s flawed.

It might feel a bit preachy and overwhelming at times, especially when two issues are being addressed in one episode. But in the end, it all makes sense…thanks to the extraordinary acting, marvelous direction, opulent sets and impeccable styling. “Made in Heaven” season 2 has to be your next binge-watch.

By Marium Abid

I'm Marium, originally from Karachi, Pakistan and now blended into the hustle-bustle of London. By day and sometime also night, … Read more ›

‘It Lives Inside’: Of Late Night Terrors and South Asian Representation

Photo Courtesy: NEON © 2023

Being a teenager is scary. Hormones, high school, trying to fit in add to it a flesh-hungry demon from the Indian subcontinent and it becomes downright terrifying. At least, that’s what award-wining director Bishal Dutta’s debut feature “It Lives Inside” will have audiences thinking when it hits theaters on Sept. 22. 

From the producers of several blockbusters including “Get Out” and “Us,” “It Lives Inside” stars Megan Suri as Samidha. Samidha is an Indian American teenager growing up in a quintessential small town, where she’s one of only a handful of South Asian faces at her school. She has a sweet, hardworking dad (Vik Sahay) and a caring, but stern mother (Neeru Bajwa). Both of them like their daughter home early to make prasad for prayers and insist no one whistles in the house, fearing it’ll attract evil spirits. 

[Read Related: Megan Suri Talks ‘Never Have I Ever’ Season 2 & Decolonizing South Asian Mindsets]

Much to her traditional mother’s dismay, when Samidha enters high school, she begins to resist her Indian culture. She prefers to be called “Sam,” and speak English, leaving her homemade lunch tiffins on the counter on her way out the door. Most significantly, she distances herself from her former best friend and fellow Indian, Tamira (Mohana Krishnan)

Tamira has become the center of school gossip carrying around an ominous black mason jar, dwelling beneath the gym bleachers. One day, she corners Sam in the locker room, begging her for help from the “monster” trapped in the jar, but Sam is rigid. Her desire to fit overcomes her emotions. Tamira storms out — and then mysteriously goes missing. 

It Lives Inside
The character Tamira is seen carrying an ominous black jar in the early stages of the film. Photo Credit: NEON © 2023

Little does Sam know, her childhood friend’s behavior and disappearance were brought on by the Piscacha — a flesh-eating Hindu demon drawn to negative energy — and Sam’s disbelief has just unleashed its terror back on her. 

“It Lives Inside” is a breath of fresh air. It has the nostalgic backdrop of a 1980s teen movie (think “Sixteen Candles” or even “Halloween”) but adds the thrill of an exciting new monster for horror fans, and looks for the final girl.

Audiences have spent decades watching and screaming at faith-based horror stories like “The Exorcist,” “The Conjuring,” and “Carrie,” but “It Lives Inside” is the first of its kind for Hollywood, drawing from Hinduism for its frights. 

Now, I can’t lie…when I first learned the story would be rooted in Hinduism, I was nervous. I worried that religion and culture may be used as a gimmick, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

Dutta’s approach is reminiscent of Bisha K. Ali’s with Ms. Marvel” on Disney+. Characters speak Hindi and we see South Asian religious practices, foods, and clothing displayed prominently, in a natural and authentic way that other groups can easily learn and understand. The culture merely rounds out the story, it’s not the main character or conflict. 

The Piscacha, feeding on the despondence of its prey, may remind some of Vecna from season 4 of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” but Dutta offers a fresh angle, alluding to the characters’ negative feelings toward their culture being the source of its power.  

He offers South Asian American audiences relatable family dialogues and dynamics, but also steers clear of cliches like showing popular kids as mean or Sam’s American crush unlikeable.

“It Lives Inside” isn’t a horror movie you’ll lose sleep over, but that doesn’t mean it’s without palpable moments of fear.

It Lives Inside
Mohana Krishnan plays the distraught Tamira in “It Lives Inside.” Photo Credit: NEON © 2023

Thanks to Dutta’s creative shots, smart pacing and sensory visuals, in addition to the emotion-packed acting of its cast, the film successfully makes your skin crawl and your jaw drop on several occasions.  

The characters are smartly cast with several standouts. Suri is a welcome new face for the horror genre’s final girl and she delivers her role with the right amount of escalating fear and desperation. Meanwhile, Bajwa leans into hers with the passion you’d expect from a protective brown mom, though, at times, some of her Hindi drama tells come through. 

“Get Out’s” Betty Gabriel is also noteworthy as Sam’s teacher Joyce and an early confidant. Her support of Sam was a refreshing break from the “this person must be crazy” trope we see so frequently in demonic films. 

All that said, “It Lives Inside” does border on being formulaic. It follows a template and scares we have seen numerous times and ones that have done well historically. 

But in its familiarity, it also manages to feel fresh. With its South Asian twist, the film proves that even formulaic horror films can find new life through diversity and inclusivity. It raises the idea that they have the potential to scare wider audiences and tell more spooky stories by exploring new cultures and casts. 

While “It Lives Inside” is not perfect — the climax may leave you with a few lingering questions — it is a stylish and well-made film and a welcome piece of mainstream South Asian representation.

[Read Related: Kamala Khan As ‘Ms Marvel’ Is The Greatest Thing To Happen To Pakistani-Muslim-Americans]

Recent past has seen South Asian stars delve into many different genres on television and the big screen, but horror has remained largely untouched. Thankfully, “It Lives Inside” has set the table for some brilliant South Asian-based horror films in Hollywood for years to come. 

“It Lives Inside” made its world premiere at SXSW and has made its way through the film festival circuit. It will be released theatrically by Neon on September 22. 

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By Ramona Sukhraj

With a B.S. in Marketing from the UCONN School of Business, Ramona has made a name for herself publishing over … Read more ›