Winning LGBTQ+ SHORT Script Reading: LAILA MANJU, by Kamya Nair, Prithvi Vatsalya

Laila and Manju have been going out for what seems like a lifetime, but Manju’s mother, Poornima, has only just learned about it. In an absurd combination of FOMO, identity crisis and alienation, Poornima worries that her daughter may not be ‘normal’. Was this a result of her laissez faire parenting? Or had the world moved on without her?
Held back by her Maa-ka-pyaar (‘motherly’ love), but also kind of propelled by it, Poornima plays the ultimate ‘Desi Mother’ card: emotional blackmail. Manju must give up Laila. But as the country goes into lockdown, Laila and Manju are separated, and Manju has nowhere to go.

Laila Manju is a 15-minute feel-good drama comedy film, set against the backdrop of the pandemic. The Pandemic is the straw that breaks the camel’s back, exposing the cracks in our relationships as everyone is forced to stay home.

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Poornima: Julie Sheppard
Laila: Hannah Ehman
Manju: Allison Kampf
Rajendra: Geoff Mays
Cop/Voice: Shawn Devlin

Writer Biography – Kamya Nair, Prithvi Vatsalya

Kamya Nair is a freelance writer-producer who dreams of being a filmmaker with a chance of making and being a part of important stories. She was industry initiated through a brief stint as an associate-producer with Viacom18’s OTT platform, Voot. This led her to work with boutique production houses like Lekh-haq Films, writing short films and acting. And occasionally, she even picked up gigs as a graphic designer, editor, photographer and fine artist.
She discovered her feelings towards storytelling as a tool for healing and learning after graduating with a B.A. in English Literature from St Xavier’s College and a Diploma in film and television from Xavier Institute of Communications. Before the pandemic, she had received a partial scholarship to study Masters in Film and Media Art from Emerson College, Boston. During the lockdown, however, she is using her time trying to ‘soak’ in cinema. Recently, she has completed The Film and Television Institute of India’s flagship Film Appreciation and Editing foundation courses online.

Prithvi Vatsalya is a journalist with Midday, an Indian news publication, and an IUIF 2020 Fellow (a UNESCO and Ideosync collaboration to promote communication for social change). They have completed a Masters in Clinical Psychology from India’s premiere Social Sciences Institute– Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Their dream is to reach out to people and help them heal. They have written about a range of issues surrounding social justice, health, books, politics, and pop culture. They are committed to the cause of LGBTQIA+ rights. They love reading, (un)learning, eating biryani, and petting animals.

This is Kamya and Prithvi’s first collaboration together and in many ways, this story is an autobiographical account of the relationship they once shared.


By lgbttorontofilmfestival

Festival occurring twice a year. In Toronto in June. And in Los Angeles in September. Showcasing the best of LGBT Short Films and Screenplays from around the world.

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