Former “General Hospital: Night Shift” head writer Sri Rao has signed a first-look deal with Netflix which includes him creating and developing scripted and unscripted series for the streaming giant under his Sri & Company label, Deadline reports exclusively. The mission of Rao’s company is to tell original stories centered on South Asian characters and artists, with a particular focus on women and the LGBT community.
First up is “The Henna Artist,” a series now in development at Netflix that is based on the Alka Joshi bestselling debut novel of the same name from Miramax TV. According to the website, the story follows an epic romance set against the lush and romantic backdrop of 1950s Jaipur, India’s famed “pink city,” renowned for its opulent palaces and rich cultural landscape.
Actress Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”), who most recently starred in the Netflix thriller “Intrusion,” will play Lakshmi, Jaipur’s most in-demand henna artist who has access to the inner sanctums of the city’s wealthiest women and is privy to their most scandalous secrets. While Lakshmi harbors secrets of her own, she falls in love and the endeavors she’s used to creating a life for herself in a newly independent India are threatened when her past comes back to haunt her position within Jaipur’s high society. Pinto will also serve as an executive producer alongside Michael Edelstein.
“‘The Henna Artist’ has tremendous potential to become that bingeable, high-quality, multilayered television show that honors the glory and beauty of India, its culture and its people,” Pinto told Deadline last year.
Thanking Netflix and his team at Sri & Company for their support, Rao told Deadline, “For the longest time, no one in Hollywood was interested in my experiences as an Indian-American person. I often found myself creating worlds that were filled entirely of white characters. But I held on long enough to get to this point where the industry is slowly changing. Our mission at Sri & Company is to find the most talented South Asian writers, actors, authors, and other artists from around the world and create compelling content that’s entertaining for all audiences, regardless of the color of their skin.”
“We’ve seen global stories resonate and become more embraced around the world – their impact is universal. It’s one of the reasons we’re so excited to collaborate with Sri Rao,” said Nne Ebong, Netflix VP, Overall Deals. “He’s a gifted writer and director whose unique perspective as a Bollywood and Hollywood storyteller will help bring to life stories that will entertain our global members and enable them to see themselves and their experiences reflected on screen.”
For more on the project and additional details on Rao’s deal with Netflix, click here.