San Francisco) Veteran director Amir Jaffer is set to produce the diverse new TV series Hashtag Blessed. Jaffer is known for the Amazon Prime series Aarzu-e-Mann(2018) and feature films Under One Sun(2009) and Between Places(2005). Jaffer is best known for drawing focus to the immigrant-American narrative.
In Hashtag Blessed, psychotherapist Lata Sharma helps her client, Silicon Valley lawyer Nina Khan, deal with her mental health issues, namely, the fact that she’s haunted by voices. As Lata helps Nina distinguish reality from the metaphysical world of spirits and demons, she also helps her face the ghosts of her past as a first-generation South Asian girl in Canada and forces her to address her sexual history. In helping Nina address her past, Lata learns that she, too, must face the ghosts of the choices she made, as an immigrant wife to an alpha-male South Asian doctor.
The TV series and its prequel film follow the lead of other recent Asian-American and MENASA shows such as Netflix’s Master of None and Hulu’s Ramy, where emphasis is placed on lead characters with hyphenated identities. This follows the recent trends in Hollywood to diversify the American narrative by featuring casts and storylines that showcase diverse perspectives. The producers of Hashtag Blessed plan to tap into the pool of South Asian and Middle Eastern actors and cast largely from the South Asian and MENASA communities. The show also brings focus to neglected issues in these communities, such as LGBTQ issues and mental health stigmas.
Actress Rashmi Rustagi has been cast to play Dr. Premlata Sharma. Rustagi is known for her work in The Avengers, Netflix’s Atypical, Grey’s Anatomy, the recurring role of Zoya on Amazon Prime’s Aarzu-E-Mann and three soon to be released feature films. The TV series is expected to begin filming in 2020, with a prequel, When Jinn Whisper, to be filmed at the end of 2019. The pilot episode of Hashtag Blessed and When Jinn Whisper are written by MK Ansari, who has written for numerous outlets, including Reuters, HuffPo and CNN. She was a quarterfinalist for Screencraft’s Film Fund (2019) and was twice selected for MPAC’s Screenwriting Lab for both the comedy and drama genre.