Launchpad finalists
2024 Launchpad: Pitch Competition Finalists


$10,000 Development Grant

Meet the five finalists selected to present their project to a panel of distinguished, industry-expert judges in front of a live audience. The pitches will receive immediate feedback from the judge’s panel, and one winner will be awarded a $10,000 development grant presented by Joy of Sharing and Tarsadia Foundation.
The winner will be announced at the closing reception of IFFLA Industry Day hosted by Warner Bros. Discovery.

The jury for the Pitch Competition includes:

  • Mohammed Ali – Lit Manager, Authentic Talent and Literary Management
  • Talha Asad – VP, Drama Programming, HBO
  • Najeeb Khuda – Producer, Literary Manager, Co-Founder, Endless Media
  • Smriti Mundhra – DGA-winning, Emmy®-nominated, and Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker (St. Louis Superman, Indian Matchmaking)


Tanmay Chowdhary and Qasim Anwar, Imaginary Homelands

Tanmay Chowdhary (writer): Tanmay Chowdhary is a filmmaker who works across music videos, narrative, documentary, and commercial projects. His work focuses on South Asian immigrant roots, shedding light on stories that have often escaped the mainstream. His films have played at the BFI London Film Festival, Slamdance, SXSW, Camerimage, Festival Du Nouveau Cinéma, and Edinburgh International Film Festival. Most recently, his short Leela world premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, and Madhu won a Special Mention at ShortFest and played at New Directors/New Films. Chowdhary has collaborated with music artists like Young the Giant and Raveena, and his work has been recognized on Nowness, Vogue, Rolling Stone, and with the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW for his collaboration with Madam Gandhi. A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, Chowdhary founded Peru Films in 2020 to champion underrepresented voices.

Qasim Anwar (writer): Qasim Anwar is a Pakistani creative, filmmaker, stylist, and fashion designer from Los Angeles and Lahore (Pakistan). South Asian diaspora stories are his primary focus. He has worked with artists like Young the Giant and Raveena Aurora, and more recently, on the and Netflix short Shams, about the trans Muslim experience. As a stylist and a creative director, he loves participating in the aesthetic language of film: from wardrobe and styling to color palettes and production design. He often collaborates with Peru Films, a production house out of India, run by his friend and filmmaker Tanmay Chowdhary. Anwar is deeply involved in the creative worlds of fashion and design and works with South Asian artists for events like the Oscars and the Grammys. He has also designed and styled the looks for Young the Giant and their 2023-2024 American Bollywood tour.

Sachin Dharwadker, The Whisper

Sachin Dharwadker is a writer and director from Madison, Wisconsin, currently based in Los Angeles. After graduating from New York University Tisch School of the Arts as a Martin Scorsese Young Filmmakers Scholar, he went on to participate in programs like Sundance Ignite, the Sundance Episodic Lab, the Sundance Talent Forum, and the New York Stage and Film Filmmakers’ Workshop. Dharwadker has since worked on an award-winning streaming series and developed his show The Kolatjars with Starz and Paramount Television Studios. As a writer and filmmaker, he explores the moral, political, and emotional questions of our world, particularly as they apply to non-white bodies and minds. When he is not creating or consuming motion pictures, Dharwadker enjoys playing the cello, supporting Liverpool Football Club, and publishing his Substack newsletter, Written & Directed.

Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda and Dini Parayitam, A Silent Wave

Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda (writer and director): Mudigonda is a DGA Student Film Award winner from The University of Texas at Austin. His work has played at Hot Docs, Raindance, and Camerimage. Mudigonda seeks to tell stories that demand an urgent conversation and engages with people, places, and communities that are slowly disappearing. His short documentary, Testimony Of Ana, won India’s National Film Award, qualified for the 95th Academy Awards, and was available on MUBI and Kinoscope. Mudigonda won the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for his narrative short, Men In Blue (IFFLA’s Grand Jury Prize). He is developing his feature-length debut, Mouna Tharangam (A Silent Wave), which won the New Texas Voices Award (Austin Film Society), was workshopped in the AFS Artist Intensive (under the mentorship of Richard Linklater, Kat Candler, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Toby Hallbrooks, and Jacob Jaffke), and was selected for the NFDC Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market.

Dini Parayitam (writer): Dini Parayitam is an Indian American writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. She has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was an Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Parayitam has written and directed the short film All Your Yesterdays, and written and co-produced How Do You Like Your Eggs. She recently participated in the Rickshaw Shorts Program as the co-writer for Texas Jaanu (dir. Aliza Khan). In addition, her television pilot Evergreen, co-written with creator Maryan Nagy Captan, is listed in the top 3% of screenplays on Coverfly. With writer and poet Jerika Marchan, Parayitam co-wrote the feature screenplays A Silent Wave (to be directed by Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda) and Confessions of a Menopausal Man (to be directed by Sachin Dheeraj Mudigonda), which are both in development.

Shuchi Dwivedi, Friends and Fascism

Shuchi Dwivedi is a history major, criminal lawyer, and screenwriting graduate from the American Film Institute Conservatory. She is a recipient of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowship and an AFI scholarship. Her AFI thesis film received the Sloan Grant. Dwivedi is an alumna of the Rickshaw Mentorship Program for South Asian Writers and has interned at Grandview and Untitled Entertainment. In 2022, she completed co-writing her first feature film, commissioned by Kunal Kapoor Productions in India. Dwivedi has previously assisted Hussain and Abbas Dalal in their writers’ room, where she worked on adapting an Emmy-winning French comedy-drama series, now airing on Netflix India as Call My Agent Bollywood Edition. As an artist, she is drawn to the female experience and the absurdities of modern-day life. Dwivedi believes laughter is an antidote to fear and aspires to create a braver world through her stories.

Sejal Pachisia, Empathico

Sejal Pachisia is a drama writer raised in Bangalore on Karan Johar and Quentin Tarantino movies. While she immigrated to the United States over a decade ago, her screenwriting career took off in India in 2019 when her feature script On the Boundary won a major competition. Pachisia wrote the Netflix fantasy series Tooth Pari, which became the most streamed Indian series in April 2023, and was a story editor for Amazon Prime’s Bandish Bandits season two. Most recently, Pachisia co-wrote The Pataala Prophecy for Tantra Productions. With deep roots in India and a future in America, Pachisia’s writing style has heightened worlds and grounded characters who straddle multiple identities and must fight to find a sense of belonging. She often explores dark themes informed by her experiences at healthcare startups in Silicon Valley, volunteering at a suicide helpline, and teaching prisoners at San Quentin Penitentiary.


Mohammed Ali is a manager at Authentic Talent and Literary Management with clients including Prashanth Venkataramanujam (showrunner, The Patriot Act), Bruce Wexler (actor, Euphoria), Asif Ali (WandaVision), Carlos Santos (Vacation Friends), and Joe Wong (Ellen). He previously built his roster and his own firm AF Entertainment, which specialized in minority actors, writers, directors, showrunners, and digital creators. Ali is the former manager of Hasan Minhaj.

Talha Asad is a Vice President of Original Programming at HBO. He started in 2018, with series like The Deuce and Perry Mason. He has served as one of the point executives on Mare Of Easttown, Winning Time, and most recently, The Last Of Us, working with creators like Craig Mazin, Brad Ingelsby, and Max Borenstein. The next series to air under his oversight is The Sympathizer, from acclaimed Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook. Upcoming shows under his oversight include The Last Of Us Season 2 and a new series with Brad Ingelsby, the creator and showrunner of Mare Of Easttown. Asad previously worked at Alcon Entertainment (Blade Runner 2049, Amazon’s The Expanse), Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions (Severance, Escape At Dannemora), and Paradigm Talent Agency. 

​​Georgina Gonzalez is Vice President of Scripted Global Series at Universal International Studios. Previously, she was Director of International Originals at HBO Max, home of series such as Starstruck (BAFTA winner), Sort Of (Peabody winner), and I Hate Suzie. She also served as Director of Development in the SPLATAM team at Gaumont Television (El Presidente, Narcos, Lupin). In Mexico, she launched the film development department for Cinépolis, the second-largest theater chain worldwide, shepherding films into production and release. Gonzalez started her career at Fox, Universal, Skydance, MGM, and the Univision-Netflix joint venture Story House. She has independently produced festival-awarded films like Eureka (Cannes), Sanctorum (Venice), and Martinez (Guadalajara). Gonzalez graduated from CUEC-UNAM and USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program as a Fulbright, FONCA, and HBO scholar. She is a board member of New Filmmakers LA.

Najeeb Khuda is an experienced producer, literary manager, and content strategist who has over a decade of experience in the industry working his way through various major studios such as 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and Lionsgate before launching his production and literary management company, Endless Media. Through Endless Media he has produced several feature films including The Calm Beyond (Sony Pictures) and Assassin (Bruce Willis’ last film) and set up numerous other projects with major companies such as Scott Free and Thunder Road. As a management company, Endless Media’s clients have set up feature and television projects across various major studios and production companies.

Smriti Mundhra is a DGA-winning, Academy Award-nominated, and three-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker. Mundhra created and directed Netflix’s The Romantics, a four-part documentary series about the history of Bollywood. Her 2019 documentary short St. Louis Superman, about a battle rapper-turned-Congressman lobbying for gun rights, was nominated for an Oscar and received the support of Judd Apatow, Brad Pitt, and Mark Ruffalo. Mundhra is also the creator, director, and EP of the Emmy-nominated Netflix show Indian Matchmaking, now in its third season, and its spin-off Jewish Matchmaking. Her debut feature documentary, A Suitable Girl, won the Best Debut Director prize at Tribeca Film Festival. In addition to her extensive non-scripted success, Mundhra has directed two episodes of Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever for Netflix/UTV, and an episode of Amazon/Freevee’s The Pradeeps Of Pittsburgh, executive produced by Michael Showalter. Mundhra is adapting the best-selling novel Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier for Wayfarer Studios, and co-wrote and will executive produce an original comedy series for Netflix. 

IFFLA Industry Day Sponsors: