Author Archives: Anisha Sridhar

About Anisha Sridhar

Anisha Sridhar is a writer who writes all day and sometimes gets paid for it.

Casting Call: Untitled South Asian Webseries

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Exciting stuff! For the past six months, I’ve been working with three other South Asian writers to craft a web series around the experiences of three South Asian sisters living in NYC.

As women, and as South Asians, we’d been talking about the diversity gap in today’s television and even web series. Where were the women that represented our experiences? Who looked like us and weren’t relegated to some sidekick role as the “exotic love interest” or goofy comic relief?

Thus, our little writing group was born. For the last six months, we’ve been writing and developing this series and we’re finally ready to cast. If you or someone you know is interested in auditioning or being part of the crew, please feel free to contact us. We’re looking forward to working with a talented and diverse cast!

Untitled Sisters Web Series:

Sisters follows the everyday life of 3 resilient, energetic and enigmatic sisters living in New York City.  Sita, Samira and Janet  – all in their 30s/40s – wrestle with love, identity and purpose as they move through the daily grind of the big apple.

Our all-female, South Asian writing team has worked to craft a web series that is diverse (gender, race, sexuality) and authentically explores female relationships in their multitude of incarnations- as sisters, friends, lovers, entrepreneurs, etc.

We are a team of talented, driven women who would love to have you on board. 

This is a no/low budget project with deferred pay.

Call for actors:

We are seeking to collaborate with talented actors who will infuse their talent, energy and intelligence into the project.  The seven day shoot will take place in late August/early September in the New York area (Brooklyn, Queens, Jersey).  This is a no/low budget project with deferred pay.

Lead characters:

Sita- female, early 40s, ambitious, driven, (South Asian)

Samira – female, mid 30s – enigmatic, grounded (South Asian)

Janet- female, early 30s – free spirited, lives the hustle (South Asian)

Supporting roles:

Annie –  female, late 50s/early 60s, spunky, lighthearted

Zoe – female, early 30s, spunky, artistic

Nikhil – – male, early/mid 30s – shy, intriguing (South Asian)

Ishaan – male, mid 40s, quite, driven (South Asian)

Seeking submissions for other supporting characters.  We welcome submissions from actors who represent diversity in ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and body type.  

Crew

We need help in all departments and welcome your energy and enthusiasm.  If you are interested in working with us, please send your resume.   

Contact info:

Email headshots and resumes attn: Padmini at southasianseries@gmail.com.  Include the position you are submitting for in the subject header.  If you have a reel, website, twitter, instagram, etc – include the link.

Reading: Shall We Sing About The Starman, Ziggy?

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I did a reading! It was only my second ever public reading and it was really fun. The South Asian Women’s COllective put of a call for “erotic works” by South Asian women. I saw the call ONE DAY before deadline (because of COURSE!) but luckily, I already had the perfect piece to send to them. in July last year I wrote this little flash fiction thing that I called “Shall We Sing About the Starman, Ziggy?”. I guess I was listening to a LOT of Bowie at the time. I was also (and still am) deeply intrigued by stories about female sexuality from a female perspective. This was my attempt at writing that.

More than anything else, “Shall We Sing About the Starman, Ziggy?” is my ode to oral sex. =D

You can read it here. There’s also pictures of me reading. Some of my favourite friends came ❤ I was freaking out hours before the reading because a) I was FIRST and b) I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading as a performance art. But it turned out great! I met lots of amazing South Asian writers and felt very inspired by their work.

Here’s an excerpt of the piece. Go to SAWCC to read the whole thing:

It must be some kind of sweet, sticky suck because that’s how you taste after
you taste me. Agreed, that’s second-hand information and it probably tastes tart or
maybe a little bitter, a little old, a little less like cherry pop. It doesn’t really matter. What
matters is that I like watching it drip off your fingers and into your mouth.

PS: There’s a typo (my fault) in the piece online. The last word of the first paragraph should read ‘pubis’ not ‘pubic’. Totes my fault. I sent them the piece for publication in August when I was super extra major jet lagged.

My newsletter: TL;DR

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This isn’t about comics. It’s about news from South Asia. If you want to skip the long story, just go see it here (and SUBSCRIBE!): http://eepurl.com/O1K79

What is TL;DR?
TL;DR is internet speak for ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’.

Why is TL;DR a thing I do?
I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work. I spend most of that time reading, and mostly reading the news. My friends, on the other hand, don’t have the time to keep up with the news. Especially my South Asian friends in the US and elsewhere. So, I created TL;DR so that the next time they go see their cousins or desi friends they too can sound up-to-date on what’s going on in the motherlands. =D

Is it only South Asian news?
Yes. I’m not even touching South Asians in the US. Just straight South Asia. If you want news about the diaspora in the US, check out The Aerogram.

Wait- wth is “South Asia”?
South Asia refers to the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It’s a one woman show right now, so it’s full of typos and stuff. I’m also working full time, so I basically collect stories through the week and speed write it all down in one day.

And yes, it’s free. Don’t worry. I don’t even have a ‘Donate’ button.

Comics: Culturestrike’s ‘Liberty For All’

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I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and researching gender lately, both as part of my current job and my personal interest. I’ve also been really really interested in creating and reading comics that have a social message and/or are educational. Part of this interest also lies in the fact that I’m more interested in how people learn in informal environments. Importantly, how can we use comics to talk about issues that people face today? 

So my interest was immediately piqued when I came across ‘Liberty for All’- a comic series by Julio Salgado and Tina Vasquez about LGBTQIA issues at Culture Strike. It tells the story of Liberty-an undocumented queer person of colour. The comic deals with all sorts of issues: immigration, feminism, queerness and race are the obvious. Check it out here

To me, as a cis-gendered hetero person of colour, this comic is sort of a soft introduction to issues faced by the queer/trans/non-cis community. It’s funny and what I like more though is the sometimes intellectual conversations Liberty has about these issues. 

I can see this comic being used as a teaching tool to open debate and create dialogue. I’d love to read more of these sustained and regular strips that attack important modern issues. Like, where’s the comic strip that debates feminism? I’m sure it’s buried on the internet somewhere. I just have to find it! 

 

Comic: Gender Tapas from Groooonk!

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I found this quirky little comic via ObservationDeck.

Two gender ambiguous people go out to Brian’s Binary for dinner and find that they kinda like some stuff from the menu but want to mix it up. It’s really a clever way to discuss the concept of gender flexibility and the fact that we all possess, like or aspire to traits that are considered traditionally male or traditionally female.

Comics: A comic for the visually impaired

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I came across this on my twitter feed a whole ago and thought it was pretty cool. Phillip Meyer, an interaction designer, has designed a comic book in braille for the visually impaired. The narrative- a love story – appears fairly straightforward and Meyer points out that the story is not the focal point as much as the design itself. Essentially, he asked the question: Is it possible to create comics in Braille? And if so, what would these look like?

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Like a true designer, he sought out advice from his target audience to learn how readers experience Braille and decipher the possible syntax for Braille comics. The result: a project called ‘Life‘. On his site, he takes care to assert that the project is just an “experiment” and that it is not the only way to approach “sequential tactile storytelling”.

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Comics: Alan Moore and Best of 2012

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It has been a while since I posted on comics. I’m no longer covering the indie-comics scene in India BUT these two links were too cool to not post.

1. Alan Moore made a film and released it for free because he’s awesome like that and he likes to stick it to Hollywood. ❤ It’s called Jimmy’s End.

2. Maria Popova of Brain Pickings links us to the best graphic novels of 2012. The list is here. It’s heavy with a lot of adaptations. I’m not the hugest fan of that even though I get it- it will introduce a whole new generation of readers to old classics etc etc. However, the second book on the list sounds gorgeous:

Building Stories by Chis Ware. I WANT THIS SO BAD. It’s a graphic narrative about three tenants in a Chicago apartment building: an elderly gentleman, a warring married couple and an amputee. Ware is redefining what a comic can look like. This “book” is more a collection of pamphlets, booklets and something that resembles a board game. Unfortunately, it’s out of stock at Amazon but when it’s back in stock, it will be mine.

Right now I’m reading: Habibi by Craig Thompson. It may be the most beautiful book I’ve ever held in my hands. I won’t describe it. Click the link for asynopsis and here are some pages:

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In awesome news, I won first prize in Talk Magazine’s short story competition! I’ve never won ANYTHING in my LIFE before so this is supermadexciting for me.

So, the story is about a young girl junkie navigating the streets of Bangalore looking for her next fix. It’s pretty gritty. As usual because it’s a story about heroin abuse, it may not be suitable for ALL audiences.

It appears also that I have made the damn cover of this magazine which is like totally rad. After the last couple of weeks I’ve had (what with losing my entire life to Hurricane Sandy- we were part of the unfortunate lot that got flooded out of our apartment pretty bad and after being ‘homeless’ for 20 days, we signed a new lease on a new apartment yesterday, so whew!)… anyway, given all that bullshit, all of this is making me smile.

The magazine is based out of Bangalore. If you’re in India- go buy it!!! It’s only Rs. 10/-

Or read it online here.

Below is an excerpt:

“Frequently, I’d buy half a gram only to find that it had been hastily cut with unknown crystals, sugar, pharmaceuticals and, according to rumour, even mosquito coil ash. There was an ever-revolving door of dealers who came to meet me with this questionable stash. They all gave me the same story, “Kareem’s gone mad.” A scramble for power ensued and, if rumours are to be believed, Kareem was thrown out of his own hovel. Where he went crawling to was anybody’s guess.

Unfortunately, these small-time dealers possessed neither Kareem’s business sense nor his charisma when it came to dealing with the Law. Dealers started to disappear only to re-appear as four lines of a story in the crime section of newspapers: “Man caught with 1.5 kg of heroin at Michaelpalya” – that sort of stuff.

The business of being a junkie was becoming extremely hard. Whenever I’d find my dealers missing or see their guilty mug shots peering out at me from a newspaper, I’d take a trip down to Shivajinagar.”

Review: The Watch by Joydeep Bhattacharya

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 Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya tackles the uncomfortable topic of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In telling the story of a young Afghani woman who only wants to claim her slain’s brother’s body so she can give him a proper burial, he draws out the real heart of the conflict: who is the enemy and just who is the defender? I like this book, despite the heavy Antigone references (which, I’ll admit, I had to look up) because it feels real. Not just in terms of dialogue- which is peppered with Army slang, American slang and, of course, those long passages where Lt. Nick Frobenius quotes directly from Antigone; but also, in the way that the soldiers, both American and Afghani, deal with ethical and moral dilemmas. We see, for instance, how the Americans mistrust the Afghani soldiers, the cultural complexity that is Afghanistan, the difficulty of telling the Taliban from other Afghani fighters.

Actually, now that I’m writing about it, I’d really like to read a story from the Afghani perspective. If you have any recommendations, let me know. 🙂

The Watch will make you dizzy with a narrative that circles a central event but spirals off every now and the into these hallucinatory nightmares, dreams and fantasies of the characters who are suffering in their own way. There is loss of life, love and limb- and in the end, we are still no closer to understanding the war or the events that are taking place inside it but what we do get a glimpse of is the humanity that survives even in the desert.

Below is an excerpt, click here to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine:

“When Nizam, a crippled Afghani woman, arrives at an American military base looking for her brother Yusuf’s body, she sets off a chain of events that tests the convictions of the soldiers. As they speculate over whether she’s a Trojan horse, a spy sent by the Taliban, or whether she is simply what she says she is — a sister who wants to bury her brother’s body — Nizam holds her ground, refusing to leave without Yusuf’s body. Meanwhile, the war, or rather, the waiting and watching that characterizes the war in Afghanistan, is taking its toll on the soldiers. In many ways, The Watch is a classic anti-war narrative. Bhattacharya takes great pains to paint a realistic portrayal of war, the camaraderie between the men, and the emotional support that they so badly need from one another.”

Here is the book trailer, because it’s a thing people do these days. I may be the last person left on earth who’d rather skim a written review than watch a trailer unfold second by second… ha.

Published: Short Story, ‘The Black River’ in the anthology ‘Behind The Shadows’

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‘Behind The Shadows’ is a collection of short stories from writers in Asia and Africa, edited by Rohini Chowdhury and Zukiswa Wanner. The theme of the collection is ‘outcasts’ and every story in the anthology touches on this theme and digs into the insider-outsider dichotomy that exists in the world and I’d say, in each one of us if we look deep enough. The anthology is now available for sale on Amazon. So click here to buy Behind The Shadows.

My story is called The Black River and is about Devika, an orphaned teenage girl who lives in a slum with an old woman and her granddaughter- Raveena. When the old woman dies, Devika suddenly finds herself thrust into an adult world where her sexual awakening collides with her maternal love for Raveena and where she turns to prostitution as much out of a desire to experience love as to make a living.

I wrote and workshopped at http://www.zoetrope.com sometime in 2011 or 2010. It’s one of those stories that began with the last line and I worked my way backwards trying to understand why this happened, to whom, when and how. In retrospect, the process is a lot like what Stephen King describes in his book On Writing. He says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that writing is kind of like unearthing a fossil. That this story is already there and we’re just excavating it slowly bone by bone as it becomes visible to us and finally we have the whole thing: this skeleton, this a-ha! moment where we SEE how everything is connected!

While I was developing it, I realised also that I didn’t want to write this stereotypical story of a whore who is coerced into prostitution. Not that that doesn’t happen; but it just wasn’t the strand I wanted to explore. So what came out is this piece about sex, love, loss and longing. Oh yeah, it’s a pretty sad story.

Obviously, there is some sexual description and strong mature themes in the story. You have been warned.

Below is an excerpt:

 

” “Ehh, what do we need money for? We need food. We need clothes. We need … lots of things. Whatever we want, we just tell him and he’ll bring it for us. Listen,” Mala says. She leans towards me, winks and then drops her voice to a whisper. 
“You want a little Old Monk, he’ll get it for you. You want some ganja, he’ll take care of it. He knows where to get everything, yaar, at the best price. So why worry about the money?” she adds.

It’s starting to rain outside but it’s dry inside here while my tent in the slum will be dripping. In my tent, I’ll have to curl up into a ball in a corner to avoid getting wet but here I can spread out and sleep. In my tent we might get flooded again but here…

“I have a daughter,” I tell Mala. “Can I bring her here?”

Mala’s eyes go round and she lifts my shirt up to look at my belly.
“What lies! Where are your stretch marks?”

“Her name is Raveena. She’s eight years old.”

“Kusum, look at this. She gave birth and she has no scars.”

Kusum barely glances at my stomach before she says, “Yeah right and my name is really Kusum.” 
Everyone breaks into laughter and then Kusum comes over to show me her stretch marks. They’re long and white as if the baby clawed its way out of her belly. Her skin is wrinkled and it sags and jiggles when she moves.

“Where’s your baby?” I ask her and she shrugs.

“I gave her to Tony,” she says and quickly looks away.

A silence falls over the room and then Kusum says, “Leave it, Mala. She doesn’t want to stay. She wants to play mommy to some beggar child. Let her and that child starve.”  ”