If “Miss India America” protagonist Lily Prasad had a theme song, it would be DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win.”
A super-competitive high school valedictorian set to attend Harvard, she’s also mapped out her and longtime boyfriend Karim’s future in a meticulously-detailed book called “The Lily & Karim Plan.”
Then Lily loses — and loses big — when Karim dumps her after graduation for the reigning Miss India National. Unaccustomed to losing, she decides she needs to win the pageant to win back her boyfriend.
As the title suggests, “Miss India America” is set at beauty pageant, but Lily’s story is so much more than about winning her boyfriend back or even the pageant itself.
According to the film’s star Tiya Sircar, the film is about something that a lot of millennial women can relate to: the self-imposed pressure to succeed at all costs.
“(Growing up) I definitely shared that pressure to succeed and be perfect at everything I tried my hand at, ” Sircar, 33, told Revelist about the comedy, which is available as video on demand starting April 5.
“There’s definitely that aspect of thinking you have everything figured out, then realizing that you don’t.
"I do remember vividly as a teenager, my mother said to me, ‘one day you’ll realize you don’t know everything, Tiya,” she laughed. “And dangit she was right.”
Lily’s realization about the limits of perfection ironically occurs at the Miss India National beauty pageant. The competition, including an impossibly beautiful and talented contestant played by “New Girl” star Hannah Simone, makes Lily reconsider how much she uses all her achievements to define her self-worth.
Just like the pageant, the movie boasts a largely South Asian cast and crew. Sircar said one of the reasons she was thrilled to be score the lead is that “Lily is the most specifically Indian character I’ve gotten to play.”
“Being an Indian-American kid growing up in suburban America, it was so refreshing to be so familiar with this world,” said the actress, best known for her role in “The Internship” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson and voicing a character in the animated series “Star Wars Rebels.”
But just like the TV series “The Mindy Project” and “Masters of None,” the film focuses on Indian-American characters without their ethnicity being their sole defining trait.
“She’s Indian, but she’s got a lot of other things going on in her life besides her Indianness,” Sircar noted.
"A lot of what Lily is dealing with doesn’t necessarily have to do with the fact that she is Indian-American. It won’t just take a South Asian audience to appreciate the film."
"It’s just that she is a very driven, ambitious, intelligent girl who thinks she has it all figured out, and ultimately figures out that’s not the case," the actress added. "I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
"Miss India America" is currently in select theaters and will be available across VOD platforms starting April 5.