Carlos Bardem, Peter Webber, Anu Vaidyanathan Make ‘Mis(s)chief’ as Avani Films Reveals Eclectic Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

Rexa Vella

Carlos Bardem, Peter Webber, Anu Vaidyanathan Make ‘Mis(s)chief’ as Avani Films Reveals Eclectic Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

U.K. and India-based production outfit Avani Films is developing an eclectic slate including three feature films and a limited drama series.

Avani Films is led by Anu Vaidyanathan, a filmmaker, comedian and previously a long-course triathlete representing India. The company’s output, which includes several shorts by Vaidyanathan, is now expanding into longer form content.

Carlos Bardem (Prime Video series “El Cid,” Netflix’s “The Chosen One”) will headline English-language comedy feature “Mis(s)chief,” described by him as a “rollercoaster ride through the life and times of a female filmmaker.” “It speaks to the agency of women auteurs who are balancing so many worlds within one life and having fun while at it,” Bardem said.

Written and directed by Vaidyanathan, “Mis(s)chief” will follow a mother of two trying to succeed as a filmmaker while navigating a flailing marriage, the odd bullet from a gangster she has unwittingly managed to annoy and a never-ending schedule of her children’s homework. Vaidyanathan said that the film “essays a modern Phileas Fogg [the peripatetic traveller in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days”], re-born in a Tamilian woman’s view of the world.”

British filmmaker Peter Webber (“Girl With a Pearl Earring”) is on board as executive producer and Emmy-nominated casting director Nancy Bishop will assemble an international cast.

“Anu has a keen comedic sense rooted in emotional truth. The script has some wonderful moments of subversion that made me laugh, frown and ultimately inspired me to help bring her debut feature to life. Her tackling of the turmoil of a modern mother told from a unique South Indian female director’s perspective sets the protagonist on a tumbledown chase around the world towards a surprising finish,” Webber told Variety.

Bishop added, “It is exciting to assemble a diverse cast for a comedy about modern women, which situates how timeless the struggle remains for female creatives.”

“Candy,” a Tamil-language thriller with a smattering of English, was a finalist at Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals script development fund. It follows an immigrant anti-heroine whose past continues to haunt her. “Modern Times” is a six-part English-language limited drama series revolving around a fractured Indian family whose neuroses seem to recur through several generations and told in two timelines, one set in the present and another in pre-independent India.

Also in the works is a film adaptation of Vaidyanathan’s sports memoir “Anywhere But Home: Adventures in Endurance,” that recounts her journey when she became the first Asian woman to complete Ultraman Canada, a triathlon event involving a 10-kilometer swim, a 420-kilometer bike ride and an 84.4-kilometer run. 

Vaidyanathan’s debut comedy hour at the Edinburgh Fringe toured widely including two stops off-Broadway, London, Paris, Berlin, Prague and three tours in India. She has trained at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Beaconsfield, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and Ecole Philippe Gaulier in France.

“Avani Films was founded with a sense of wonder, play and empowerment, which really does begin at home. In the last three years, we have created collaborative partnerships we cherish and aim to make work that is hyperlocal, authentic and unafraid to speak in the voices that are yet to be heard, seen or acknowledged,” Vaidyanathan said.

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