Veteran director/producer Amir Jaffer, known for drawing focus to the immigrant American narrative, is all set for another diverse drama, “Hashtag Blessed.”
In the dark comedy which is currently in pre-production, psychotherapist Dr. Premlata Sharma helps her client, Nina Khan, a Silicon Valley lawyer, deal with her mental health issues, namely, the fact that she’s haunted by voices. As the therapist helps Nina distinguish reality from the metaphysical world of spirits and demons, she also helps her face the ghosts of her past as a first-generation South Asian girl in Canada and forces her to address her sexual history, according to a press release. In helping Nina address her past, Premlata learns that she, too, must face the ghosts of the choices she made, as an immigrant wife to an alpha-male South Asian doctor.
The producers of “Hashtag Blessed,” added the press release, plan to tap into the pool of South Asian and Middle Eastern actors and cast largely from the South Asian and MENASA, or the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, communities. In the coming weeks, casting calls will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.
Along with talking about mental health stigmas in these communities, the show also brings LGBTQ issues into focus.
Indian American actress Rashmi Rustagi has been cast to play the role of Sharma. Rustagi is known for her work in “The Avengers,” Netflix’s “Atypical,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and for playing the recurring role of Zoya on Amazon Prime’s “Aarzu-E-Mann.” (Read earlier India-West story about the show here: https://bit.ly/2LPz729). She will also be seen in three soon-to-be released feature films, said the release.
The TV series is expected to begin filming in 2020, with a prequel, “When Jinn Whisper,” to be filmed at the end of 2019.
The pilot episode of “Hashtag Blessed” and “When Jinn Whisper” are written by M.K. Ansari, who has written for numerous outlets. She was a quarterfinalist for Screencraft’s Film Fund (2019) and was twice selected for MPAC’s Screenwriting Lab for both the comedy and drama genre. Jaffer directs the two shows while Rustagi plays the lead role in both.
Jaffer is known for directing “Aarzu-e-Mann” (2018) and feature films such as “Under One Sun” (2009) and “Between Places” (2005).