The South Asian women behind Amazon Studios’ "Evil Eye" movie
By Samia Abbasi
Every fall, I look forward to watching atmospherically spooky or intense horror movies and TV shows (the latter less frequently, for sure). I’ve been more excited about the horror genre with the recent rise in films by BIPOC producers like Jordan Peele, creating masterpieces like Get Out (2017) that center BIPOC characters and BIPOC-focused storylines. Today, the anticipated Evil Eye (2020) movie came out on Amazon Prime, produced by Purple Pebble Pictures and Blumhouse Productions. It follows the lives of a woman named Pallavi (played by Sunita Mani) and her superstitious mother Usha (played by Sarita Choudhury) who is convinced that Pallavi’s new boyfriend is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago.
As actor and director Sujata Day powerfully stated in an interview with Deadline: “No one in Hollywood was willing to take a chance on me, so I took a chance on myself. Instead of waiting for an invite to that elusive seat at the table, I built my own table.” I am energized by seeing more South Asian women producing, writing, and starring in the western film industry. Here’s what you need to know about 3 brilliant South Asian women behind Evil Eye: screenwriter Madhuri Shekhar and lead actresses Sunita Mani and Sarita Choudhury.
Madhuri Shekhar: an Award-winning Screenwriter & Playwright
photo credit: Niyantha Shekar
Evil Eye was originally an audio play by Madhuri Shekhar, which was on the Audible best-seller list in May 2019. She went on to write the film adaptation of Evil Eye. Based in Jersey City, NJ, Madhuri has had a prolific career so far: an alum of the Juilliard Playwriting program, a fellow at New Dramatists, and the 2020 winner of the Lanford Wilson Playwriting award. Her plays include: Queen, In Love and Warcraft, and A Nice Indian Boy. She was a staff writer for the upcoming HBO show The Nevers (2020) (madhrushekhar.com).
Sarita Choudhury: a Prolific Actor with a Penchant for Thrillers
photo from: Getty Images via Metro.us
Sarita Choudhury is an English actress who has been in 50+ movies and 30 TV shows. Born in Blackheath, London, she grew up in Jamaica, Mexico, and Italy. She received her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card for her role in Mississippi Masala (1991). At that time, Sarita was determined not to "go Hollywood" and focused on independent films. Later on, she played Egeria in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015) and starred A Hologram for the King (2016) alongside Tom Hanks.
Sunita Mani: a Multi-talented Actor, Dancer, & Comedian to Know
photo credit: Shayan Asgharnia
While studying writing and publishing at Emerson College, Sunita Mani started her career as a comedian. Since then, she’s been in 12 movies and 9 TV shows, most notably her recent role in GLOW (2017) and Mr. Robot (2015). As a dancer, she is part of Cacoon Central Dance Team, a choreographed dance comedy act, and starred in the music video for Turn Down for What. She was born and raised in Tennessee.
I’m looking forward to this spine-tingling look at South Asian superstitions coming to life. Watch Evil Eye on Amazon Prime here, and you can watch the trailer here:
Cover Photo Credit: @sunitamani