Indo-Canadian teen Maitreyi Ramakrishnan will play the lead in a Netflix series based on Mindy Kaling’s childhood. According to reports in entertainment portals like The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, Ramakrishnan was selected from 15,000 applicants who replied to the open casting call that Kaling posted online. The Toronto native, who makes her television debut, will be seen as Devi, which Netflix describes as “an overachieving high school sophomore who has a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations.” The yet-untitled series will follow Devi’s life as a modern-day first generation Indian-American teenage girl.
CBC Canada reports that Ramakrishnan, who was born in Mississauga, did not have representation when she was cast.
Although there isn’t much information about Ramakrishnan, her social media handles have a few congratulatory messages. The actress hasn’t posted about her casting, but according to elitedaily.com, Ramakrishnan’s recent posts include snapshots from her role in a theater production of “Chicago” and possibly a high school prom.
In an earlier interview, Kaling told Variety that when Netflix approached her about doing a series on young Mindy, she told them she “wasn’t as interested in telling a period piece about an Indian girl growing up in the ’80s.” However she told them that “I’d love to do a show about a 15 year old Indian girl now.”
Kaling received a 10-episode order in March, after she signed a deal with Warner Bros. TV, after spending a decade and a half with Universal. The series is co-created by Kaling and Lang Fisher, who are also executive producers, along with Howard Klein and David Miner. According to the details of Kaling's original casting call, production on the series will begin in Los Angeles in late July. In addition to looking Devi, Kaling’s team was also looking for a South Asian female in her mid 40s and another in her mid 20s.
Meanwhile, Deadline reported on July 11 that Kaling has roped in actress Poorna Jagannathan, who will essay the role of Nalini, Devi’s mother. Jagannathan, who was seen in the Bollywood film, “Delhi Belly,” is known for her role as Safar Khan in HBO’s Emmy-nominated “The Night Of.”
Jagannathan currently recurs as Katie Richmond on the second season of HBO’s “Big Little Lies," and will be next seen in A24’s “Share” on HBO, Pippa Bianco’s feature film adaptation of her short, which won prizes at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and SXSW. She was most recently a series regular on "Gypsy," a Netflix original series, and part of the ensemble cast for HBO's new anthology series, "Room 104," by the Duplass brothers.
Jagannathan also initiated and produced the play “Nirbhaya,” written and directed by Yael Farber, which dealt with breaking the silence about sexual violence. Her play won the 2013 'Amnesty International Award' and was called by The Telegraph as the "one of the most powerful pieces of theater you'll ever see.”
Apart from working on the Netflix series, Kaling recently finished production on a mini-series adaptation of the 1994 rom-com “Four Weddings and a Funeral” for Hulu and Uni TV, which will debut this year. She wrote and executive produced the adaptation with Matt Warburton.
A month after the Netflix deal, Kaling and Priyanka Chopra announced that they will star in a comedy about an Indian wedding that Kaling is co-writing and potentially directing. News reports then said that the film was pitched as a mashup of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
Kaling recently made headlines with her new feature film “Late Night,” opposite Emma Thompson. She also served as the film’s producer and writer. It premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired by Amazon Studios for a record-breaking $13 million North American distribution deal.
Kaling previously created, executive produced, and starred in “The Mindy Project” which ran for six seasons–three on Fox and then three on Hulu. Prior to that, she was a writer and executive producer on “The Office” at NBC.She has acted in films including “Ocean’s Eight,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and “The Night Before.” She is also the author of two bestselling books “Why Not Me?” and “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).”