Meera Menon and her best friend writer Laura
making a revolutionary movie called Farah
Goes Bang, about a twenty-something Iranian American woman who hits the
road with her friends Roopa and KJ to campaign for John Kerry in 2004. Along
the way, Farah (to be played by Nikohl Boosheri) is also on a quest to lose her long-lingering virginity. The
revolutionary part is that the true-to-life diversity and sexual candidness of
the script, co-written by Menon and Goode, are hard to come by in today’s media
landscape. [If you take over-hyped HBO show Girls into account, you can
apparently have one or the other only. Though there was an Asian American
played for laughs in episode 1.]
Hyphen sat down with Menon
to talk about inspiration, creative roots and how you can help Farah Goes
Bang become a reality.
Picture of Menon by Jon Brilliant
about your inspiration for Farah Goes Bang.
We saw that there was a
startling lack of diversity in terms of how stories of female sexual becoming
were told. Women are basically expected to be sexual, unless they are actively
choosing not to be. Very few stories have been told about that awkward space
between, that struggle some women face in order to have sex even if they want
to have sex. A lot of women, and I count myself amongst them, came a bit “late
to the party,” and it wasn't because they didn't want to go, it's because they
downloaded a bad set of directions. There is great humor to be found here, but
more importantly, a great sense of truth.
One of the more telling
questions Laura and I have gotten on this script is this: “If Farah wants to
lose her virginity, then why can't she just go out and have sex?” No one ever
doubted this premise as it related to a young male protagonist in American
Pie, a movie in which even the girl band geek was hyper sexually active. So
we wanted to make a film about that nerd girl in all of us, that didn't always
find life, love, and sex that easy.
opposed to many Indian Americans whose parents are doctors and engineers, your
father is a Malayali movie producer, and you yourself were in an Indian
American soap opera as a teenager. How did these experiences influence your own
It basically influenced
everything. I grew up in a house that was constantly serving as a host to
actors, musicians, and filmmakers from South India. MGR was at my parents wedding. I remember singing songs with Sivaji Ganesan in my living room when I was four years old.
These were larger than life figures. In many ways, there's never been another
option for me than to spend my life in search of people like this—truly great
actors and artists. That is my home, and my parents have always been supportive
of my dreams because they helped create them.
interesting that Farah Goes Bang features main characters who are of
different ethnic backgrounds (Persian, Indian, white). Can you talk a little
bit about why you made this choice in writing the script?
quite simple, really: we wanted to see a world of characters that accurately
reflected our own world. I guess in doing so, we hope to medicate some of the
harm caused by a media culture that largely segregates our varied ethnic
experiences. For example, by putting an Indian character (Roopa, played by Kiran Deol) in a film that
does not largely concentrate on her “Indian-ness,” we hope to broaden the types
of stories that people associate with Indian Americans. On this note, there are
fewer things more glorious than the fact that the predominant thing about
Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife is not that she's Indian, but rather,
that she's bisexual. If it's not one other, it's another, I guess!
think that there is no longer a place for specifically ethnic, or Asian
American films, why or why not?
There is definitely still a
place, I just object to the exclusivity of those narratives. It is frustrating
to see incredibly talented Asian American actors get cast in the same types of
roles, over and over again. But culturally and ethnically-specific narratives
will always have their place, if for no other reason than to support our senses
of ourselves and our communities through them, which I believe is the ultimate
goal of truly great storytelling.
the final week of your Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for Farah
Goes Bang, how can readers make sure this film makes it?
We need people to spread
the word like wildfire, continue to donate and reach out to those who will
donate more. We have until May 2 to raise nearly $35,000 of our $75,000 goal.
We have so many incredible incentives: downloads of the film, access to our
super secret virginity blog CHERRY
BOMB, and at
higher donation levels, we have mixed martial arts classes, writing classes,
and even a chance to have a walk-on role in the film. This week we'll be
announcing some great new rewards too, including an iPad 3 loaded up with
content from the film, headshots, customized shoes, flasks, belts and more. We
are pulling out all the stops.
The Farah Goes Bang
team, spearheaded by writer/producer/warrior of the heart Laura Goode, has been
working day and night on this Kickstarter campaign. Perhaps the most important
thing we have to prove through it is that the power to make great films is
actually now in our hands, and that all you need is great people, a great
message, and then of course, a great community to support both those things. We
can do this grassroots, and we hope upon hope that everyone will join us in
Donate to the Farah Goes
Bang Kickstarter campaign here.
Banerjee is Hyphen’s former managing editor.