Girl With An Accent, Fresh off the Boat and a Pindrop Silence!

A modelling picture of Kalpna Singh-Chitnis in 1993. A year before coming to the United States.

It was my first day at school in the United States. I enrolled myself to take some vocational courses at College of Dupage, (Illinois) in 1994, to find a job immediately, as my Masters degree in Political Science was considered as a Bachelors degree in the United States, and I yet had to take TOEFL and GRE tests to earn another Masters, and go back to teaching International Relations in a college, as I did in India, before coming to the US.

Our instructor Mr. Mizner asked the students to break into pairs, exchange their information, and introduce one another to the class. I wrote my name on a slip, and handed it over to a young, white student sitting next to me, and he wrote his name in my notebook. But when our turn came, the boy stood, and rather introducing me, he asked Mr. Mizner, “if he could introduce someone else?” There was a pindrop silence in the classroom. I looked at the boy, and told him not to worry, I can introduce myself, and him too. And I did it, so very beautifully, with my Accent!

I’m not sure, if that student had difficulty pronouncing my name, or he was prejudiced, or just interested in introducing the blonde sitting next to him, with whom he had no chance, as she already had exchanged her info with another student sitting next to her. But whatever the reason was, that day I knew, what was going to be my role for the rest of my life in the US, my new home.

Ever since I have been inspired to bring East and West together, to look into each others eyes and dare to pronounce one another’s name, and know, that the only way we can overcome our ignorance and prejudice against each other is by having a dialogue.

The story of “Girl With An Accent” was written ten years later in California, after I finally earned another degree in Film Directing from NYFA at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

“Girl With An Accent” is a story of an immigrant girl Rajni living in America, who left her family and friends in her native country, but the only thing she could not leave behind was her accent. Those who can not catch her name call her – Girl With An Accent. The story of Girl With An Accent deals with racism, prejudice and bias in Corporate America, and redefines the meaning of American dream.

We make films to earn money, name and fame. I also wish for us to make films for change!

Girl With An Accent

You are invited you to watch the Television Premiere of my film “Girl With An Accent” on Tuesday May 26th, 2015 at 4.30 pm on LA18 KSCI-TV in California and at 3.00 PM on – KIKU – TV in Hawaii after my interview with Kat Iniba on Halo Halo.

Hope, you enjoy the film!

~ Kalpna Singh-Chitnis