×

Indian fest salutes Bajaria and Monga

Kaling has audience in stitches describing how her 'Project' got championed

There may not be a gay mafia or a Jewish mafia in Hollywood, but according to Mindy Kaling there is definitely an Indian ladies mafia.

At an Indian Film Festival Los Angeles luncheon honoring Universal TV’s Bela Bajaria and producer Guneet Monga , Kaling had the House of Blues audience, which included fest topper Christine Marouda and Participant Films’ Christopher Gebhardt, in stitches. She described how Bajaria championed her “Mindy Project,” which got picked up for a second season on Fox. “I gave her my script and she said, ‘Hey are you Indian? Let’s go show this to Kevin Reilly.’ And she smoked a cigarette. Just for the record no one should smoke.”

On a serious note, she added, “It was a fight to get this on the air and it wouldn’t have happened without someone passionately fighting for me.”

Bajaria accepted the honor thanking her parents for letting her pursue a career in showbiz when her Indian-American peers were studying to be “doctors, lawyers and engineers.”

When she started as a TV exec 17 years ago there were just a couple of Indian-Americans in showbiz, but her journey from East Africa to the U.S. via London gave her a wide perspective.

“I’m looking forward to a few scripts we have in development with Indian writers and producers, but we have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Monga accepted her award saying, “This is the first time I’m getting an award and I’m very excited.” Producer of such pics as Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” and Michael Winterbottom’s “Trishna,” Monga said, “I have no personal dreams. My dreams are my directors’ dreams.”

Disney Intl. topper Andy Bird gave the keynote address. “I have no script, but I have thoughts. I always have thoughts,” he said. He talked about a confluence of events that make Indian films ready to appeal to a larger audience. “The time is ripe and I’m very confident that a global hit is ready to come from India and I’m confident we’re the company to do it,” he said. There are 22 films on the slate in Disney’s India subsid UTV Motion Pictures, which is more than the parent company has, he said.

The 11th edition of the Indian Film Festival Los Angeles opened Tuesday and runs through Sunday.

More Film

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum to Star in 'Bob the Musical' Comedy for Disney

    Channing Tatum is attached to star in and produce “Bob the Musical” for Disney — a project that’s been in development for more than a decade. Tatum will produce through his company, Free Association, and partners Reid Carolin and Peter Kiernan. Tripp Vinson and Chris Bender are also attached to produce. No director is currently [...]

  • John Henry

    'John Henry': Film Review

    Terry Crews’ John Henry is a man of few words. “John Henry,” the folklore-cribbing, violent thriller (opening theatrically and available on demand) about a former gang member who must face his demons when two young immigrants require his help, feels like it wants to say a lot. But what exactly? Utilizing horror-movie gestures and ladling [...]

  • Matt Damon SNL

    Matt Damon to Star in NYPD Thriller 'The Force'

    Matt Damon has come on board to star in “The Force” with James Mangold directing for Disney’s 20th Century Studios. Mangold, who directed Damon in “Ford v. Ferrari,” has been developing the Don Winslow bestseller since 2017. “The Force” centers on corrupt NYPD officers with Damon attached to play detective Denny Malone, who runs an [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein female juror

    Novelist Who Wrote About Predatory Men Stays on Harvey Weinstein Jury

    A novelist who has an upcoming book about predatory older men in New York will remain on the Harvey Weinstein jury, despite vociferous objections from the defense. Juror #11 showed up to opening statements on Wednesday, and sat through the full day of trial. Weinstein’s defense had argued last Friday that she should be removed [...]

  • Ride Like A Girl

    Australia Box Office Drops 2% in 2019

    Cinema box office in Australia dipped by 2% in 2019 to an annual total of A$1.23 billion, or $841 million, according to data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia. That was the country’s third highest figure in local currency terms, but it also shows the theatrical industry to be rangebound since 2015. Australian-made [...]

  • Harvey WeinsteinHarvey Weinstein court hearing, New

    Hairdresser Will Be Star Witness at Weinstein Trial

    She was raised on a dairy farm in Washington state. She left home as a teenager, fleeing a troubled childhood. At 25, she came to Los Angeles to become an actress. She went on auditions, got cast in a few commercials — but nothing much beyond that. In recent years, her primary job was cutting [...]

  • Jack Kehoe dead

    Jack Kehoe, 'Serpico' and 'Midnight Run' Actor, Dies at 85

    Jack Kehoe, best known for his roles in the Al Pacino-led crime drama “Serpico” and “Midnight Run,” died on Jan. 10 at a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was 85. The actor suffered a debilitating stroke in 2015, which left him inactive in recent years. Kehoe also appeared in several Academy Award-winning films during [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content