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Spotlight

Supinder Wraich Seizes Control

By Jorge Ignacio Castillo, 23 Jul, 2019

    The creator and star of The 410 wants to drive awareness and social change through her show.

    While long established as an actor, Supinder Wraich has consistently pursued creative endeavours behind the camera, such as two shorts as a writer/director and a music video for Imran Khan. Wraich’s quest reaches a new peak with The 410 (now streaming on CBC Gem), a three-episode miniseries she conceived, wrote and stars in.

    The 410 follows aspiring influencer Surpreet “Suri” Deol as she tries to bail her estranged dad from jail, suspected of drug trafficking. The drama started as a draft for a feature film, but as Wraich tried to get funding, she realized it could work as a web series. The shooting lasted a tight 12 days, following a year and a half of negotiating scripts.

    Ostensibly a thriller, The 410 works as a snapshot of the Sikh community in Brampton, ON, and as a character study of a young woman at crossroads in her life. Wraich explains, “They say ‘write what you know’. When I was writing Suri I mined my own insecurities. I was born in India and moved here when I was four, so there was a lot of hurdles with fitting in. Being an actor, it took me a while to get comfortable enough with myself so if the opportunity presented itself, I would have the ability to seize it.” Wraich’s struggle became one of the show’s engines: “I wanted to have that conversation: Why are we ashamed when we’re ‘other’ instead of celebrating our differences.”

    Even though Wraich’s character reclaims her identity throughout the series ­— she starts the show with blonde hair and coloured contact lenses — this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of influencers. In fact, Wraich is fascinated by the phenomenon: “When pitching the show, I put together an Instagram account for Suri. It was so hard and time-consuming. There is an influencer we talk about on the show, Aankita.b. She is very South Asian-focused, but adds her own twist to it. There is a lot of artistic merit in what she does. A lot of influencers have built a career of those ‘how to’ channels and as a consumer of those channels, I can’t knock them.”

    As per Wraich’s own estimation, the feedback over her first foray as show creator has been 85 to 90 per cent encouraging. “There is a small group among the Indo-Canadian community that’s a bit offended by some of the imagery that I’ve chosen to put in the show.” She has no regrets though, “While I’m sensitive to that sentiment, I’m not apologetic. There are things I wanted to say about the community that have to do with culture and not religion. There is this one image you see in the third episode where Suri walks into the gurdwara and there is a female Sikh warrior on the wall. We hunted for a month for that picture because women are not represented equally within the culture.”

    Currently a Los Angeles resident, Wraich expects to sit down with the CBC in the next few months to discuss whether a new season is in the cards. The broadcaster is believed to be happy with the performance of The 410 on the Gem platform.

    DON’T LOOK BACK

    Wraich is not a stranger to serialized roles. In fact, the role that put her on the map was as the main character of the groundbreaking web series Guidestones. However, she is not particularly interested in revisiting previous roles. “It has been so much fun to have creative control on this show, when you realize how little control actors have in general, I don’t think I would voluntarily go back.”

    The fact that her most notable works have been in streaming services is a point of pride for Wraich. “One of the reasons I wanted The 410 to live online is so I could market it directly and reach an audience. When I was writing it, I knew exactly who my audience was: Women, South Asian females who are lacking representation. More and more shows like this — made for niche audiences — are moving into the broadcast world. The more specific the story gets, the more universal appeal it has. This world is a great avenue for new creators to have a voice.”

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