Freida Pinto will star in and executive produce “The Henna Artist,” which is set in 1950s Jaipur, India and follows Lakshmi (Pinto) as the city’s most in-demand henna artist. She gains access to the secrets of the city’s wealthiest women as she builds her life in newly-independent India and falls in love, but her status is threatened by the secrets of her past. Rao, Mirsada Abdool Raman and Michael Edelstein also executive produce and Miramax Television serves as the studio.
The acquisition comes as part of a new first look deal between writer, director and producer Rao, who will create scripted and unscripted series for the streamer with a focus on South Asian American stories. Raman will continue as head of development for Sri & Company, a role she has held since Oct. 2020.
Rao is also currently finalizing the upcoming series “Finding Anamika,” with Netflix’s creative team in India. The series stars Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit and is set to premiere in early 2022.
“I’m incredibly grateful to Bela, Peter, Nne and the overall deals team at Netflix for this opportunity and vote of confidence,” Rao said. For the longest time, no one in Hollywood was interested in my experiences as an Indian-American person. I often found myself creating worlds that were filled entirely of white characters. But I held on long enough to get to this point where the industry is slowly changing. Our mission at Sri & Company is to find the most talented South Asian writers, actors, authors and other artists from around the world and create compelling content that’s entertaining for all audiences, regardless of the color of their skin.”
“We’ve seen global stories resonate and become more embraced around the world — their impact is universal,” said Nne Ebong, Netflix’s vice president of overall deals. “It’s one of the reasons we’re so excited to collaborate with Sri Rao. He’s a gifted writer and director whose unique perspective as a Bollywood and Hollywood storyteller will help bring to life stories that will entertain our global members and enable them to see themselves and their experiences reflected on screen.”
Rao’s previous credits include writing “Baar Baar Dekho” and producing the films “New York” and “Badmaash Company” for Yash Raj Films. Rao is also the author of “Bollywood Kitchen,” a book that pairs recipes with contemporary Bollywood musicals and pairs a menu of home-cooked recipes with each film. He is based in New York.