spin

Avantika Vandanapu stars as an Indian American teen in the Disney Channel’s “Spin.” (Disney photo)

“Spin,” a Disney Channel original movie that will premiere in 2021, has added to its cast.

U.K. actor Meera Syal (“Yesterday”) and India’s Abhay Deol (“Chopsticks”) have joined the cast, according to a news release.

“Spin,” to be directed by Manjari Makijany (“Desert Dolphin”), follows an Indian American teen, portrayed by Avantika Vandanapu (“Diary of a Future President”), who discovers her artistic side through the unique world of DJ culture and learns she has a passion for creating mixes that blend the textures of her Indian heritage and the world around her.

“‘Spin’ is a special project that is giving me an opportunity to introduce my culture in a very authentic way,” said Makijany in a statement. “The team at Disney is committed and passionate about representation and have been extremely supportive of my vision from casting a talented Indian actor such as Abhay Deol and the fantastic Meera Syal, to smaller details in the story that reflect the culture.”

Zanne Devine (“Secret Society of Second Born Royals,” “Easy A,” “I, Tonya”) is the executive producer of the movie, with writing by Carley Steiner (“Play Date”) and Josh Cagan (“The Duff”), said the release.

“Zanne, our executive producer, is a real champion for diversity and women in film and that is reflected throughout our cast and crew,” added Makijany. “These conscious decisions of inclusion at the leadership level help shape the narrative and the stories we put out there in a huge way. I’m blessed to have a truly global cast from Australia to India, U.K., Canada and the U.S. and excited to bring this fun and inspiring project to life.”

In the film, Rhea Kumar (Vandanapu) is an effervescent 15-year-old who lives with her tight-knit multigenerational family. After her mother’s death, she has been her father’s emotional rock, and her life revolves around her family’s restaurant, her eclectic group of friends, and her after-school coding club.

Everything changes when she falls for aspiring DJ Max and a long-lost passion for music is reignited, noted the release. Rhea discovers that she has a natural gift for creating beats and producing music, but must find the courage to follow her true inner talent.

Lauren Kisilevsky, vice president, Original Movies, Disney Channel, said, “We look forward to watching Avantika lead this vibrant story of a teen discovering unexpected aspirations to create, remix, perform and ultimately define her art. We’re equally thrilled to see this special story come to life in Manjari Makijany’s talented hands.”

A well-recognized name in India and in the Indian American community, 15-year-old Vandanapu started her artistic journey through dancing, focusing on Indian classical dance forms, along with ballet, jazz and contemporary.

She won second place in the first North American edition of ZeeTV’s reality series “Dance India Dance Li’l Masters.”

Vandanapu went on to act in multiple feature films in Indian cinema and more than 25 commercials for national and regional print and TV media.

Most recently, she starred as Monyca in “Diary of a Future President” on Disney+ and can be heard as the voice of Kamala in Disney Junior’s hit animated series “Mira, Royal Detective.”

Makijany is an Indian writer-director based in Los Angeles. She’s an alum of the prestigious American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women and Hollywood diversity programs, such as Universal Directors Initiative and the Fox Filmmakers Lab. Her debut feature “Desert Dolphin,” a coming of age sports-drama and India’s first skateboarding feature, will be released globally on Netflix in 2021, said the release.

“Spin” is set to begin production in Toronto this fall, for a 2021 premiere on the Disney Channel.

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