Atajus Productions/Datari Turner Productions/June Street Productions
Mindy Kaling is continuing her path of spotlighting South Asian storytelling in Hollywood. Following the recent success of Netflix's Never Have I Ever and HBO Max's Sex Lives of College Girls, both of which feature leading Indian cast members, Kaling is now the executive producer on the South Asian family dramedy Definition Please. Ahead of its debut on Netflix, only ET has the exclusive premiere of the first official trailer.
From writer, director, star and producer Sujata Day, best known for her role on HBO's Insecure, Definition Please follows Monica (Day), a former spelling bee champ who hasn't achieved much success since her big win 15 years prior, as she reconciles with her estranged older brother (Russian Doll's Ritesh Rajan) when he returns home to help care for their ailing mother (The Good Place's Anna Khaja).
For Day, first working with Issa Rae on her web series, Awkward Black Girl -- which served as inspiration for Insecure -- eventually led to her feature directorial debut. “We were all inspired by being on that web series and we were starting to write our own stories,” Day previously told ET. “Issa said, 'I am writing my Black girl story, you have to write your brown girl story.'”
Audiences will see plenty of other familiar faces popping up in the film's trailer, including Lalaine (Lizzie McGuire), Jake Choi (Single Parents) and Levar Burton (Reading Rainbow), in supporting roles.
The film garnered a slew of awards during the festival circuit, including Outstanding Directorial Debut for Day at the South Asian Film Festival of America and Best Lead Actor for Rajan at the NYC South Asian Film Festival.
The film also tackles mental health, a topic that can sometimes carry a stigma in the community. For Rajan, who also spoke to ET, portraying an Indian American man living with borderline personality disorder was a delicate process. “Sometimes being vulnerable is seen as weakness in Asian communities. I really wanted to dial into all of that nuance and detail to play a character that was as authentic as possible,” he said. “His denial of his sickness and his confrontation with his sister, it was all ultimately about finding the humanity within the South Asian story.”
Ahead of its wide release, Day has already seen her film inspiring future generations. “I have heard from young brown girls saying this has inspired them to write their own story and that’s all I can ask for,” she shared. “I want to inspire as I have been inspired by people who came before me and that was the goal of making this movie, for all the little brown girls whose stories haven’t been told yet.”
Ava DuVernay's production company, ARRAY Releasing, is distributing Definition Please, which will begin streaming Jan. 21 on Netflix.