Miss India America (2015): Addicted to the Win Comedy

Directed and co-written by Ravi Kapoor (the other scribe on the project was Kapoor’s wife Meera Simhan who also plays the mother in the film) Miss India America is about Lily Prasad (played brilliantly by Tiya Sircar), an addicted to winning high school student. Lily graduates, and is her class valedictorian, and things in her meticulously planned life go awry almost immediately.

 

Miss India America posterDirected and co-written by Ravi Kapoor (the other scribe on the  project was Kapoor’s wife Meera Simhan who also plays the mother in the film) Miss India America is about Lily Prasad (played brilliantly by Tiya Sircar), an addicted to winning high school student. Lily   graduates, she is the class valedictorian, and things in her meticulously planned life go awry almost immediately.

Lily Prasad is a top level student who always wins.  A true type ‘A’ personality the teenager has her future and that of her boyfriend Karim (Kunal Sharma)  mapped out to the smallest detail.  After graduation her best friend Seema (Kosha Patel) takes Lily down to the Miss India America pageant registration. 

Seema wants to sign up but  it is Lily that the reigning Miss India America zeroes in on. Prasada is not keen until Karim leaves her for the current crown holder. The distraught Lily will stop at nothing to become the next Miss India America to win him back.

The casting of this film is nigh on perfect. Sircar and Patel make a splendid double act as the two best friends who change places. It is Seema (Patel)  who wishes to join the pageant while Lily has plans to head off to Harvard. But after her boyfriend of five years dumps her Lily shoulders her way into the contest and talks Seema into helping her win.

With notable actors such as Cas Anvar (Room, The Expanse), Bernard White ( The Brink,  Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Meera Simhan (Anger Management, Baby Steps) and Hannah Simone (New Girl, Oldboy) the film moves smoothly through its tightly written paces. 

Kapoor and Simhan bring a funny tale of the over-confidence of youth and a coming of age journey that is quirky and a perfect picture of that honor student that is book smart but who lacks in social skills and graces.  They have created a character that may be rough around the edges in terms of rubbing everyone the wrong way but despite her attitude, the audience likes Lily.

Meera Simhan and Bernard White
Mrs and Mr Prasada suffering through Lily’s art.

Cinematographer Alan Caudillo  makes the film look beautiful throughout and every frame looks spot on.  The pacing is perfect and if there is any complaint at all it would be that the film stops too soon. The story may be finished, per se, but the characters are so much fun the audience wants to know more.

While Miss India America is set in the pageant world it is about more than beauty contests and what goes on back-stage. It is about growing up and all the humor that brings with it.  In some ways the film is a bit like Miss Congeniality where the most unlikely of females joins the contest, one for work and the other to prove a point.

 Hannah Simone is  the contestant that Tiya’s character must beat and Anvar is the lecherous Bollywood judge.  

Miss India America is a 5 star film. It entertains and is funny. There is a message there if one wishes to look for it, but mostly it is a film one can enjoy with younger members of the family.  Tiya Sircar really sells her teenager who is  addicted to the win at almost any cost and she spoke to Mike’s Film Talk about her portrayal of Lily.

Watching this film it is not hard at all to believe it garnered three awards on the festival circuit. On April 5 this year the movie will be available through various streaming outlets. Catch this one when it is released and prepare to be entertained.

Tiya Sircar Talks ‘Miss India America’ (Interview)

Miss India America ran through the festival circuit last year and garnered three awards and one nomination. The film has now become available to the public in a limited theatrical release beginning on 24 March 2016 and then will be on VoD from 5 April this year. In anticipation of the film’s open at Santa Monica tonight the star of Miss India America, Tiya Sircar took a few moments to speak with Mike’s Film Talk (MFT).

Miss India America (from left to right): Hannah Simone, Tiya Sircar and Contestant #5 - SAG Actor: Rima RajanMiss India America ran through the festival circuit last year and garnered three awards and one nomination. The film has now become available to the public in a limited theatrical release beginning on  24 March 2016 and then will be on VoD from 5 April this year. In anticipation of the film’s open at Santa Monica tonight the star of Miss India America, Tiya Sircar took a few moments to speak with Mike’s Film Talk (MFT).

Tiya is currently working on the Disney/ABC animated televisions series Star Wars Rebels where she voices the character of Sabine Wren. Sircar is also in  pre-production for Dumb Prince a TV movie for NBC. The busy actress has been working since 2005 and has over 39 credits for her accomplishments that are split between film,  television and the video games industry.

MFT: First off, thank you for talking to Mike’s Film Talk and congratulations on winning the VC FilmFest best actress in a narrative feature award for your portrayal of Lily Prasad in Miss India America.

Tiya: Thank you!

MFT: I have to tell you, I watched the film last night and really enjoyed it. Very entertaining and it made me laugh quite a lot.

Tiya: I’m glad you liked it!

MFT: So the film is opening tonight in Santa Monica, outside the festival circuit for the first time. How excited are you about that?

Tiya: I’m very excited. For the last year we’ve been taking it around to the various film festivals which has been thrilling and  being able to share it with film fest audiences was great. But to finally have it open in theatres and be able to reach an even wider audience via VoD and streaming on Hulu and iTunes is even more exciting. You know people who don’t do festivals have been asking “when can we see the movie” and I didn’t have a good answer. Now, finally I do and I’m really grateful and happy that I’ll be able to share the film with folks all over the place.

MFT: Is the premiere tonight be a red carpet affair and if so what, or more accurately who, will you be wearing?

Tiya: I believe it will be the whole thing.  We’ll have some press and the red carpet, so yeah.  Regarding what I’ll be wearing…Good question. I haven’t had time to think too much about it as we wrapped on the show I’ve been working on (Star Wars Rebels) very late last night. But, I will probably be wearing a designer that I love, Anna Sui .

MFT: That’s brilliant. I wanted to congratulate you also on pulling off the teen look so effortlessly. I was shocked find you were not the same age as Lili!

Tiya: Thanks! I guess I should thank my parents for that. 

MFT: So what drew you to the project?

Tiya: I read the script early on and Ravi and Meera (the writers and director of the film) worked with me on another show and they played my parents. That was in the nascent stages of the script and they had a “table read” and I read the part of Lily and immediately felt a connection to the character and I just knew that if the film ever got made that I had to play this role. 

There was something about Lily that I felt drawn to and familiar with and I felt such an intimacy with her that I knew if the film ever got made I was going to fight tooth and nail to get that part. Luckily I didn’t have to do that. But I was ready!

MFT: I now have to ask if you really identified with this young lady who was completely addicted to winning.

Tiya: Yeah, you know I wasn’t Lily growing up, but there are aspects of Lily that I can definitely relate to. I mean I do sort of have a “type A” personality and I like to win. I like to be good at things I try my hand at and when I’m not, I find it very frustrating. But unlike Lily I’d like to think I’m a little more “well rounded”and hopefully my interpersonal skills are a little better than Lily’s.

And I’m sure my parents would have liked me to be a little more like her; studios and going on to be a brain surgeon.  But there were definitely parts of me that I could see in Lily. I could see parts of me but I could also see parts of my older sister, you know that “first child, model child” growing up thing. So I really felt familiar with her even though I was not her. 

MFT: I read in an interview from last year, while the film was in the festival circuit, that you’d never actually heard of the Miss India America pageant.  So how did you research for the role?

Tiya: Yes that’s right, it was news to me.  I guess because while growing up I had no interest in beauty pageants. But even if I had been, I’m sure my mother would not have allowed me to be in one…thankfully. It is funny though, I didn’t have to research the role because as foreign as the concept of Miss India America was to me, it was even more so to Lily. (Laughing) It made my job a little easier.

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