Feature Script: MOHNIKA, by Isha Chitre

“Mohnika”, is an introspection into the unique nature of the Indian-American identity. It is inspired by those who feel foreign amidst the American streets they grew up on, or in other words, the place they have been calling “home.” Exploring the idea that home isn’t always the same as where one’s memories rest, the film aims to convey that the concept of “home” is a connection, beyond physicality. Rather, it is a feeling. Born and raised in New Jersey, Monika finds herself lost. Amidst her peers, she listens as one does when in the process of learning a foreign language. She lives with her dad, whom she shares a rather stiff relationship with, and his girlfriend. Monika isn’t home; but she knows how to find it. She finds home upon hearing her mother speak the Hindi language; one that she struggles to speak, yet yearns for when unable to express herself. She finds home in the fierce melody of the monsoon. She finds home in the bustling streets of New York City, which remind her of Mumbai, yet somehow fall short. “Mohnika” is Monika’s journey of acceptance.

Writer Biography – Isha Chitre

Ishq Pradhan is a filmmaker based in New York.
She is studying film and television production at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Ishq’s experience in filmmaking includes
writing, producing, and directing films. Her films “Dear Fay,” and “East and West” have won multiple awards and screened in numerous festivals, such as The Smita Patil International Film Festival, and Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival in India. She aspires to create films that inspire audiences, through socially relevant topics. She is passionate about diversifying South Asian representation through film. She is interning under Vikramaditya Motwane at his production company, Andolan Films. Ishq’s role model and mentor is Mona Sampath Khan, the Founder and Artistic Director of The Mona Khan Company, America’s largest Bollywood dance company.

Writer Statement

Mohnika” is largely inspired by my (Ishq Pradhan) experiences and introspections. It is the journey of a character that has always identified as Indian first, and American second. At home, I felt proud to be Indian, and more importantly, proud to be an admirer of India’s pop culture and state that the actors Hrithik Roshan and Madhuri Dixit were my inspirations. Growing up, I was in constant fear of being labeled as “the Indian girl.” My fear wasn’t based in an embarrassment of being Indian, but rather the prospect of being misunderstood by my peers. I believe that the apprehensions of boldly accepting one’s culture in a multi-cultural society extend beyond my experience, and rather are present in a large percentage of second-generation immigrants. Because of this, I firmly believe that the story of “Mohnika” is an incredibly important one to tell. Through this story, I hope to present a South Asian character that wholeheartedly embraces their roots, rather than dismissing them; a characteristic that is seen in many mainstream portrayals of the Indian-American identity. I have come to realize that “Mohnika” is much more than an Indian-American story. I want to convey that home is not always the place one has grown up. It is where the soul connects, and these two places may not necessarily be the same.

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