Spin is my favorite DCOM from the modern era. It was directed by Manjari Makijany and written by Carly Steiner and Josh A. Cagan. The film is the first and only DCOM to feature an Indian-American lead, Avantika, who plays Rhea. Rhea and her little brother, Rohan, spend most of their free time working in their father’s Indian restaurant. Their grandmother livens things up by performing in the establishment once a week. Their father, Arvind, is very strict and expects a lot from Rhea. She’s in the computer coding club at her high school with her best friends, Watson and Molly. Their other friend, Ginger, is the school’s most popular social media influencer.
One fateful night at her family’s restaurant, Rhea meets Max, a British boy who will be going to her school. Max and Rhea bond over their love of music, and Rhea learns that Max is a deejay. As the two of them spend more time together, Rhea learns about the art of deejaying and puts together a set with Max. They both plan to deejay an upcoming Festival of Color in observance of the Indian holiday Holi. Arvind requires Rhea to work that day, so she misses most of the event. Arriving just as Max is wrapping up, Rhea is so hurt to see that he played the set they both worked on and doesn’t even have the courtesy to thank her at the end. It’s a really impactful scene, with the powder of colors swirling around and dusting the crowd. Rhea’s friends have her back and promptly shun Max.
Here’s the unique “spin” on this movie: Rhea and Max will compete against one another in a huge deejay competition. Since Max is a little turd and enters the contest with music Rhea helped create, Rhea decides to make something all her own. After being punished for leaving work to go to the Festival of Color, Rhea spends precious time with her grandmother discussing her late mother. Rhea remembers how her mom sang to her and inspired her to take in the many sounds of the city: “It’s All Music.” Rhea’s deejay set incorporates her mother’s stunning vocals, Indian-inspired dance steps, and the music of her environment (for example, the sounds of food sizzling in a skillet at her family’s restaurant).
I appreciate the creativity of this movie, along with the depth of Rhea’s struggle to make her father proud but also learn an exciting skill she is discovering. Her teacher and her father become an item (that part is a little weird), but the teacher is a good encourager to Rhea. It’s no surprise that Rhea wins the huge deejay competition — with her stage name being her own moniker, Rhea — and “DJ Union Max” loses. This DCOM is everything you need: female empowerment, supportive friendships, family love, following dreams, exhilarating music, and truly beautiful filmmaking. Watch it on Disney+!