Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Reality Not So Diverse; Indian-American DIRECTOR Aims to Pull Women into Comedy

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Reality Not So Diverse; Indian-American DIRECTOR Aims to Pull Women into Comedy

Article excerpt

Byline: WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN

Ironically, Nisha Ganatra worked with a largely white, male cast in her comedy film about diversity in the TV writer's room.

The Canadian-born, California-raised director - best known for her Emmy-nominated work on the TV series Transparent and her acclaimed debut feature film Chutney Popcorn, teams up with The Office's Mindy Kaling on Late Night.

The new comedy drama follows Molly Patel (Kaling), a quality control expert at a chemical plant and amateur stand-up comic who lands a writing job on a late-night talk show. She finds she is the only woman or person of colour in the writing room.

"I always want to work with a diverse cast, but that is not the reality in the world we are portraying," Ganatra says.

"The whole point is the lack of diversity, so necessarily the cast is not going to be that diverse. That was a tough thing to get my mind around. But unfortunately, it's accurate. I often find I'm the only woman of colour on a set."

Ganatra and Kaling make up for that lack of diversity behind the camera. The director and writer bonded over their experiences as Indian-American women rising through the ranks of the TV industry.

"It made sense for us to collaborate," she says. "We didn't have to explain anything to each other.

"I said 'I get this. I'm Molly' and she said 'Me too' and then we went running forward making a film together.

"This is a deep, soulful performance in places. We talked a lot about her life before she 'made it', before she wrote her books, before she was Mindy from The Mindy Project. She was just a young woman struggling and wanting so badly to be a part of the world of comedy and not seeing any way in."

Kaling stars opposite Emma Thompson, who plays talk show host Katherine Newbury. Not only has Katherine grown complacent, her years in the competitive industry have turned her into a tyrant of a boss who assigns her writers numbers rather than ever learning their names. …

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