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‘Definition Please,’ film tackling South Asian stereotypes, heads to Netflix

Directed by and starring Sujata Day, the film debuts on Netflix on Friday and highlights mental health, career success and family dynamics in the South Asian diaspora.
Sujata Day, left, and Ritesh Rajan in a scene from "Definition Please."
Sujata Day, left, and Ritesh Rajan in a scene from "Definition Please."June Street Productions

“Definition Please,” a new film by Sujata Day that tells the story of an Indian American woman 15 years after she wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee, will be released Friday on Netflix. 

The film is Day’s feature directorial debut and premiered at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival.

Best known for her work as Sarah in the HBO comedy “Insecure,” Day wrote, directed and stars in the film as protagonist Monica Chowdry.

The film deconstructs the model minority myth and highlights mental health issues widely ignored in the South Asian diaspora. Much of the plot revolves around Chowdry’s relationship with her family, particularly her estranged brother, who battles mental illness after he returns home to tend to their sick mother. 

“I really wanted to start a conversation,” Day previously told NBC Asian America. “There is always chatter of successes, whether it was a second master’s degree or med school or a Wall Street job. No one talked about their failures, stresses, second chances or even therapy.”

“Definition Please” also includes Asian American actors in supporting roles, such as Jake Choi (Single Parents), Lalaine (Lizzie McGuire), Ritesh Rajan (Russian Doll) and Anna Khaja (Walking Dead: World Beyond).

The film earned several awards at film festivals, including the grand jury award for best narrative feature at the San Francisco Bay Area's Center for Asian American Media Festival and the outstanding directorial debut award at the South Asian Film Festival of America.

“The beautiful thing is that this movie is about an Indian family, but it’s an Indian American family, and ultimately such an American story,” Rajan, who plays Monica’s brother Sonny, previously said.

“Definition Please” was distributed by Ava DuVernay’s company ARRAY, which also acquired “Donkeyhead,” directed by Agam Darshi, an actor and filmmaker of South Asian descent. The film will also be released on Netflix on Friday.

“So excited about these two films. Both are written, directed and star their triple-threat women creators. Rare and wonderful,” DuVernay tweeted.