Director: Ravi Kapoor
Cast: Tiya Sircar, Hannah Simone, Kosha Patel, Meera Simhan, Kunal Sharma
Miss India America, initially released on February 2015, was screened at the Reel Asian Film Festival 2015. The film stars Tiya Sircar, who plays Lily Prasad, a driven, goal oriented teenager who lives for challenges and winning. Lily has always had a specific plan for her life and always managed to be victorious in her endeavors. She graduated from High school with the intention of entering university and becoming a brain surgeon. She also planned that her boyfriend, Karim (Kunal Sharma), would become an engineer and that they would get married, buy a house, have a family, and live a charming life.
All this falls apart when her boyfriend, tired of her controlling ways, decides to leave her for a beauty queen who holds the title of Miss India America. Frustrated and angry, Lily decides to enter the pageant and win the title. She feels this is the best way to get Karim back and prove that she is still a winner. The pageant world is uncharted territory for Lily, so, with the help of her knowledgeable friend, she enters and navigates the world of pageantry. As a contestant, Lily is a fierce competitor; she stops at nothing, even going as far as doing things out of character. Her drive to win causes her to struggle with the idea of right and wrong and what is fair and true. The film is centered on the idea of blind ambition and its ability to destroy relationships and create conflicts. Sometimes, though, as in Lily’s case, it can result in self-discovery and the realization that sometimes when we push too hard, we alienate those that care about us the most.
Lily has a frictional relationship with her mother and identifies more with her father and this is explored throughout the film. The concept of success, particularly the perception of traditional success in the Indian community, is questioned as well. Miss India America is brilliantly written, charming, and has a stellar cast. This film can be enjoyed by those aged 13 and up, anyone who’s interested in coming of age stories and a glimpse into a culture not often explored or portrayed in popular film media. I give it four out of five stars.