Interview conducted by Rehana Paul.
Meet Meghna and Movina. Two sisters and two sides
of the same coin. The #MeMoSisters have their eyes
set on the entertainment industry – Meghna the
Maverick as the actor/filmmaker & Movina the
Mastermind as the artist/performer.
Rehana (R) – Hey guys! Glad to be sitting down with you. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourselves?
Meghna (M) and Movina (Mo) – Hi Urban Asian! We are Movina and Meghna Nagarajan. We are sisters, best friends, and collaborators. We both work in the entertainment industry, Meghna is in film and Movina is a singer. Movina released her first original single “Call Me Baddie” a couple months ago. Meghna directed the music video and we have been getting a lot of positive feedback since!
R – Meghna, how did you get into filmmaking?
M – I think it all started with my love for acting. I started auditioning for roles a couple years ago but after going on a string of auditions for parts which were terribly racist caricatures of Indian Americans or South East Asians, I decided to start writing. I figured even if I was a terrible writer at least my characters would be accurate depictions of the types of people I knew and would represent the world I see around me. Turns out I wasn’t half bad. I attended a writing workshop with the director of Battlestar Galactica and he was gracious enough to read my script. After reading it he told me I was director. I told him I was an actor and an engineer and didn’t know the first thing about directing. He told me point blank, “You are a director. Stop making things complicated. Just go to college for a couple of years and learn all the technical stuff”. And here I am a few years later doing just that.
R – Movina, how did you get into music?
Mo – My parents love the arts and so I was always exposed to it at home through their favorite movies or songs. They put me in singing and dancing lessons when I was six and honestly, I knew I wanted to be a singer before I even turned ten. I just became extremely enamored by music and started verbalizing it to my family. After school my parents ushered me around to singing classes, piano lessons, and then dance lessons. And I never had a problem with it, in fact I always looked forward to them. I even ended up getting a double major at Emory University in Economics and Music. I entered college without any plans to study music but after my first semester I missed it so much I decided to major. The love I have for music is still my biggest motivation. It speaks to me in a way not much else does. I spend my free time listening to music, making music, or learning more about the industry. It’s natural for me.
R – How was Bollywood influenced your work?
Mo – How has it not? I grew up watching Indian movies and listening to Bollywood songs. A lot of my favorite singers and lyricists are Indian. My introduction to art in all its forms was predominantly from an Indian perspective. Bollywood movies, the songs, the fashion, the aesthetic has a huge influence in my daily life and in the music I make. I am always yearning to hear Indian instruments, melodies and sounds in the music I listen to and spend a lot of time incorporating these sounds into my own music. It is super important for me to collaborate with people who are familiar with the culture so I can create music that is new and edgy while also maintaining the authenticity of both my eastern and western upbringing.
M – Indian cinema is a contradictory animal, very much like myself. The worlds and characters are larger than life, but the relationships and the struggles are grounded in truth. The stories, music and clothes are soaked in fantasy but the emotions that the audience feels are as raw as it comes. Indian cinema is entertaining and helps you escape reality into complicated worlds where the characters live and love to the fullest. I love how it is a given that music, clothes and food are meant to be enjoyed and indulged in, and the characters live that truth in the movies. Indian cinema has shaped my visual vocabulary and aesthetic and ultimately the filmmaker that I am.
R – Are there any South Asian creatives you’re following now?
M and Mo – There are so many. Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika is a current obsession. Her clothes and designs have a way of speaking to the melting pot of cultures inside us. HateCopy the illustrator is always making us smile on Instagram. Rapper Raja Kumari is making waves in the Indian hip hop scene right now. Ekta Kapoor is a true visionary. Alia Bhatt is taking on projects and roles unlike others around her. And Hasan Minaj is the boy next door everyone needs – just the right mix of hilarious and educational. Desi boss people doing big things and doing it their way – that’s our style and we can’t wait to collaborate with them all soon.
R – What have been some highlights of your work so far?
Mo – Putting out my first single and music video for Call Me Baddie was definitely a highlight. I worked up to that moment tirelessly making sure the music, the lyrics, and the visuals really conveyed who I am and the direction I want to go as an artist. Seeing everything come together reminded me why I chose this path. And then receiving all the love and support was unbelievable and so special. It was a proud and exciting moment.
M – Call Me Baddie is definitely the highlight so far. I always get a little nervous before any big project, but it was received so well that I couldn’t be happier. The music video is still racking up views and I am so humbled by all the love we have received.
What’s it like working together as sisters?
M – Litty! Movina is my ride or die. I don’t have to slow down for her (she is usually a couple of steps ahead of me actually) and I don’t have to spend hours explaining what I consider simple ideas to her. She has the same standards for herself and her work, so I don’t ever feel like I am being forced to compromise on the quality of a project if we are in it together. Our priorities are the same: The best or nothing.
Mo – Yes, a hundred percent. What she said.
Describe your style.
Mo – My style is bad and boujee – Bollywood royalty meets Atlanta swag. For me it’s always a balancing act between my poised, polished exterior and sharp, rebellious interior. I hope my music toys with that fine line as well.
M – My style is vibrant, luxurious, other worldly. I love exploring the extremes of life. I hope to create a space where you can deal with your realities by escaping into my fantasies.
What is next for you?
Mo – Next up is more music. I have songs in the vault that are written and ready to drop. Meghna and I are in pre-production for the next video now. 2020 is going to be full of new music back to back and lots of fun music videos. That will all lead up to an album which I can’t wait to share with you all.
M – I just finished directing “The Boy in the Basement” which should be coming out in 2020 and Movina and I are working on her next music video which I am super excited about. There a lot of projects coming out in 2020 so everyone stay tuned.
Find Meghna and Movina here: