I’m just a girl, standing in front of a TV, asking Netflix to show me more desi rom-coms.
Like most millennial girls I grew up obsessed with 90’s and early 2000’s rom-coms. Enamored by the overpriced, impeccably furnished apartments, the spectacular wardrobe choices, and the gloriously cheesy dialogue. I will forever walk into rooms exclaiming “You had me at Hello” then dramatically leave.
As wonderful as these films were, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to see someone that looked like me being represented in these stories ‘And Just Like That’ after 20 cups of tea, 7 tissue boxes, and 8 tubs of cookie dough ice cream later, re-produced 5 working titles… Coming soon this summer (Hopefully, one day… Call us Netflix!)
1. Legally Brown
When millennial desi girl Esha Walia is dumped by her blue blood boyfriend for being “too brown” she decides to forget about him and pursue a law degree at Harvard Law School. With discrimination at every corner, she finds solace in a nearby beauty parlor, where she befriends Pushpa, a dazzling manicurist and henna expert. As the stars align she emerges victorious in overcoming racial bias while showcasing her obsession for all things Bollywood. After achieving her law degree Esha goes on to file a case lawsuit in abolishing fairness beauty products. Waging a battle against heavyweight corporations, once and for all re-branding the narrative that “Brown is Beautiful”
2. Always Be My Jalebi Baby
Manij and Sara grow up as childhood friends in India, they have not been in touch since their teenage years. Sara goes to culinary school in New York in the pursuit of bringing an Indian dessert fusion to western culture. 18 years later she returns to her hometown, opening up a Jalebi Shop, and runs into her old pal Manij, a part-time musician working in construction with his dad. He welcomes Sara’s return and their chemistry pick up right where they left off but Manij, growing up in a male-dominated culture and household struggles to come to terms with Sara’s ever-growing fame and success. Can he look past misogynistic society conditioning to be with the woman he loves? Manij eventually decides to follow Sara to New York and supports the opening of her Jalebi Dessert Restaurant, which she names after his Amma.
3. You’ve Got DM’s
The love of your life could be on the gram! After sliding into the DM’s, an owner of a restaurant chain Jao, meets the owner of a quaint little bookshop Kareena on Insta and they fall in love over the gram. The two navigate an online liaison but as lockdown lifts, they are finally able to meet face to face. Tension strikes when Kareena’s book store demands closure, leaving her with an uncertain future. A shaky career path and differing family cultures, cause a stir in their digital romance. Leaving the two pen pals in a strenuous predicament, which leads them to part ways. After coming to terms with the loss of her bookstore, Kareena writes a bestselling children’s book and later reconciles with Jao, as they both navigate celebrating the richness and difference of both their cultures.
4. When Harpreet Met Sunita
Can men and women just be friends? Can two women be more than friends? That’s what two newly graduated women Harpreet and Sunita debate about over a lengthy train journey. 5 years later they meet each other at a mutual friend’s party, still with no answer to the foreboding question. The two form an unlikely friendship, eventually becoming best friends but as time ensues Harpreet’s attraction for Sunita grows. After admitting her feelings for Sunita, Harpreet puts it all on the line. Unfortunately, Sunita breaks their friendship, afraid of cultural stigma and what people will say, she distances herself from Harpreet. 10 years later they meet once again at a New Year’s Eve party. A guilt-ridden Sunita expresses her regret for not pursuing more than friendship, the two finally reconcile as partners creating the perfect match.
Wedding lover Jaya spends much of her time as a bridesmaid and has 27 lehengas as evidence. Her structured life unhinges when her younger model sister Tina, re-enters her life and captures the heart of the guy Jaya secretly loves. Heartbroken, Jaya finds herself rethinking her wedding obsession until she meets Karan, a cynical film critic, who relights her spark. While Karan believes the industry and society perpetuate an unrealistic view on marriage as well as weddings, Jaya is enamored by all things love and romance. They inevitably clash with their ideas of love, jeopardizing their sizzling chemistry. They eventually put their differences aside, and when Jaya and Karan inevitably get married, “it was everything she ever hoped it would be.”
Mariska Ariya is an avid tea drinker, questionable Hufflepuff, aspiring roti maker, and obsessive scrabble player. Ariya is a multi-faceted creative owning her own Music Animation Company (Messiah & Maverick Sound) working with both independent and professional musical artists. Music has always played a pivotal role in Mariska’s career, in 2016 she released her debut single Never Fall which climbed onto the iTunes chart. Alongside her music, Mariska remains tethered to the film industry. Starring in sci-fi film Voyagers (Maya) alongside Tye Sheridan and Lily-Rose Depp while releasing an audiobook of family favorite Peter Pan (Tigerlily & Tinkerbell) in support of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, with the likes of Rupert Everett. Mariska can next be seen in Season 4 of The Good Karma Hospital (Radhika) and is set to publish her first poetry book in early 2022. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter!