New film dismantles South Asian stereotypes tied to spelling bee, mental health

In the opening moments of “Definition Please,” a young Monica Chowdry wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2005. Now, 15 years later, she tutors prospective young spellers and lives with her mother, Jaya, who still joyously watches old news segments celebrating her daughter’s victory.

Through this, the film juxtaposes the model minority myth associated with the South Asian diaspora, specifically when it comes to achievements like winning a spelling bee and the success that’s bound to follow.

As Monica reconnects with her estranged brother Sonny on the one-year death anniversary of their father, the 90-minute drama also tackles loss and identity with an acute, empathetic focus on the still-taboo topic of mental health.

Sujata Day, best-known for her work as Sarah in the HBO comedy “Insecure,” wrote, directed and stars in the movie.

It will make rounds at the film festival circuit as part of Asian CineVision’s Asian American

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