Comedy Central has brought a new project – and potentially a new series – to Chicago. The project is entitled Surina and Mel Light it Up: A Diwali Story, and is led by two South Asian women on a mission for representation, actors and co-creators Surina Jindal and Melanie Chandra. Here is what we know so far, as filming has begun this week in Chicago, with a veteran from Dick Wolf’s #OneChicago Chicago P.D. franchise among the key players…
Meet Surina and Mel
Surina and Mel Light it Up: A Diwali Story began its journey as a short film Surina and Mel, which was self-produced by the aforementioned Surina Jindal and Melanie Chandra in 2018, premiering at the Urbanworld Film Festival in 2019.
Sources tell SCREEN the project currently filming in Chicago could ultimately live as a stand-alone “movie of the week” for Comedy Central or could potentially serve as the pilot for a full Surina and Mel series.
As for what we can expect from Surina and Mel Light it Up: A Diwali Story, let’s look to a recent manifesto from Jindal and Chandra about their 2018 precursor to the current film…
“Surina & Mel is our entrance into the first generation world of brown people. This isn’t a show about culture clashes, or an Eat, Pray, Love fest. It’s about two American-born South Asian women who are figuring out what life looks like when you’re not a model minority nor a Bollywood star fighting terrorism on an ABC show, but kinda just two best friends dealing with the messy realities of being halfway decent adults. We’re proud to present a show concept that captures our world – it’s authentically brown, edgy, and a little absurd – all through the lens of the modern day South Asian woman. It’s a first of its kind.”
In addition, here is a comedic sketch from Jindal and Chandra entitled “So You’re Indian?” from their YouTube channel “2 Brown Girls” a few years back:
Young Sheldon Director Mahmood at the Helm
Jaffar Mahmood is best known for directing numerous episodes of the hit comedy Young Sheldon as well as several episodes of the Primetime Emmy Nominated series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brooklyn-Nine-Nine. Prior to his success in the television world, Mahmood wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning feature film Shades of Ray. After Jaffar graduated from the Disney/ABC/DGA Directing Program, he completed the NBC Director Fellowship, and the Warner Bros. Directors Workshop Master Class.
Here’s a quick peek at the trailer for Mahmood’s 2008 feature Shades of Ray, starring Zachary Levi of NBC’s Chuck:
Chicago P.D. #OneChicago Veteran Leads the Production Team
Bob Rolsky has served as Unit Production Manager on the cornerstone Dick Wolf series Chicago P.D. for 80 episodes, and will be stepping out of the #OneChicago universe to lead Surina and Mel Light it Up: A Diwali Story for his aforementioned director Jaffar Mahmood, Comedy Central, and Gunpowder and Sky. His Production Coordinator is Alanna Gerardi.
Check back here at Screen Magazine as Surina and Mel Light It Up: A Diwali Story forges ahead into production this month. Many more announcements ahead for this project.