"Definition Please" Just Dropped On Netflix — Here's What It's About And Why You Should Watch It

·6 min read

Back in August of 2020, I told you all about a film called Definition Please, which was making its rounds on the film festival circuit at the time. Ever since then, we've only had the trailer to rewatch over and over again (it's a good one), but as of today, I'm pleased to say that the film has found a home on Netflix!

Monica Chowdry and Sonny sitting far apart on a couch
Array / Netflix

If you're not familiar with the film, let me break down the basics for you (no spoilers, I promise).

First off, we've got our girl Monica Chowdry, who's played by the multi-talented Sujata Day. Aside from starring in the film, Sujata also directed, wrote, and produced the movie.

Monica talking to a child she's tutoring

You may recognize Sujata from her work as CeCe from The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure.

Array / Netflix

Monica is a former National Spelling Bee champ whose life hasn't exactly panned out as expected 15 years after her big win.

Monica as a kid competing in the National Spelling Bee
Array / Netflix

She still lives in the same town she grew up in (aka Greensburg, PA), tutors other spelling bee contestants, and takes care of her sick mother, who is played by Anna Khaja.

Monica's mom smiling with a cup of tea in her hands
Array / Netflix

She's become so accustomed to this life that even when she receives a dream job offer outside of Greensburg, Monica is too afraid to pursue it.

Monica tutoring a future spelling bee contestant
Array / Netflix

Matters get more complicated when her estranged brother Sonny, played by Ritesh Rajan, returns home for a week without her knowledge. They haven't spoken since their father died the year prior.

Sonny shirtless in the street
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Sonny also has untreated bipolar disorder symptoms, and both siblings must now learn how to care for each other and themselves, while learning how to reconnect for the sake of their dying mother.

Monica and Sonny looking at one another in a grocery store
Array / Netflix

When it came to portraying mental illness in the film, Sujata previously told BuzzFeed, "It would just be something that was not talked about in our Indian American community, so I wanted to bring this issue more out into the open so that we as Indian Americans can talk about it more, especially dealing with our 'model minority' myth, which puts a lot of pressure on our kids."

Sonny having a bipolar episode in the kitchen

She continued, "They feel like they need to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers, and maybe they don't want to, or maybe they don't have the capacity to do that...so that model minority myth puts a lot of pressure on our kids, which can lead to mental illness. I wanted that to be one of the themes in the film because I saw it all around me growing up."

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The movie even manages to throw in a bit of a telenovela twist, but I'll let you find that out for yourself.

Monica dressed up and doing a performance for her mom
Array / Netflix

Throughout the film, we're also introduced to a slew of supporting characters, the first being Monica's bestie Krista, who's played by the incomparable Lalaine Vergara-Paras from Lizzie McGuire.

Krista cheersing Monica on ner new job
Array / Netflix

Seeing her appear in any show or movie is a rare treat these days, but Lalaine slips into the role with ease, as if she's spent no time away from the spotlight.

Krista looking at Monica while wearing a pink fishnet shirt and two buns in her hair
Array / Netflix

Krista is the kind of friend who will show you all the best parts of yourself, and I left the film wishing I could watch a Monica/Krista spinoff next. If you're anything like me, it'll make you realize just how much you've missed seeing Lalaine on your television screen.

Monica and Krista eating ice cream in a parking lot
Array / Netflix

Speaking of chemistry, things also get steamy with Richie, a love interest of Monica's. He is played by Jake Choi, and — spoiler alert — Sujata made sure we all got a glimpse of his bare booty in the movie. And it's a good, sun-lit glimpse. Just something for you to look forward to, if you're into that sorta thing. 🍑

Richie looking at Monica in a bar
Array / Netflix

We also get appearances from Parvesh Cheena as Jimit Uncle, Sonal Shah as Dr. Ali, and Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton as, well, LeVar Burton!

Jimit as a cashier at a store, Dr. Ali looking concerned, and LeVar on the set of a children's show
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Navigating between light humor and the heaviness of the human experience isn't easy, but Sujata, Ritesh, and Anna tapped into that vulnerability and used it as a guiding force throughout the film.

The Chowdry family at a memorial for their dad
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You'll often find yourself being pulled from one side of the emotional spectrum to the other very quickly, but real-life family dynamics can sometimes feel this volatile. Siblings fight, moms worry, love gets tested, laughs ease tensions, and life gets in the way sometimes — but that's entirely the point. Humans aren't flat, we're complicated, and Definition Please doesn't shy away from reflecting that back to us.

Monica and Sonny laying in grass outside
Array / Netflix

Ritesh previously told BuzzFeed that he immediately fell in love with the script as soon as he read it for this same reason. "I read it, I loved it, it was fantastic. It was a project that I think showed Indian Americans in a different light and that didn’t necessarily rely on them being Indian, but rather showing an Indian American family and the shit that they go through, which is the same stuff a lot of families go through."

Ritesh isn't the only one who loved the film way back when too. Mindy Kaling initially tweeted her appreciation for the movie a whole year ago, way before its release.

And she loved it so much that she is now an executive producer on the film.

Mindy isn't the only big name putting their stamp of approval on it. Ava DuVernay's film distribution company, ARRAY Releasing, also acquired the film earlier this month.

Between its honest portrayal of an Indian American family just trying to make it, mental illness, millennial qualms, and the love that ties it all together, Definition Please deserves the mantle it stands on. Sujata told BuzzFeed, "For me, I wanted to make a very American story with a South Asian American cast because I had never seen that before. I want audiences to realize that we’re all in this together and we all have the same wants and desires and conflicts, whether it's in our family or in our career, or in our hopes and dreams. I would just love audiences to feel empathy and appreciate that we are all part of a global species."

This only marks the beginning of more great things from Sujata, and I, for one, can't wait to see where she takes us next.

Sujata walking the red carpet
Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Definition Please is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer below: