GENRE-DEFYING SCREENWRITER AND SERIES CREATOR
Vekeana Dhillon is something of a trailblazer leading the way with her prolific writing as she charges across formats and genres. She’s a valued voice spearheading multiple projects at Broadcasters and Streamers in India as well as the global market. As Creator-in-Chief of The Foundry, Vekeana’s the creative powerhouse behind the IP content studio and production house for which she’s generated a development catalogue of over 200 IPs in feature films, series, podcasts and animation.
Her significant achievements illuminate her skill and she’s currently recognizing others as Judge for both the Association of International Broadcasters Media Excellence Awards and the Asian Academy Creative Awards adjudicating screenplay and drama categories. Vekeana pays it forward by conducting a Screenwriting Masterclass for the AACA 2022. Her focus has led to triumph, she’s noted as one of Telefilms Canada’s Premiere Writers and nominated as The Women’s International Film & Television Showcase Foundation Jury Award for those dedicated to their craft. The start of her remarkable journey was featured in the award-winning Bollywood Bound; a National Film Board of Canada’s documentary feature film following the lives of Vekeana, her brother Vikram Dhillon and two other transplanted Canadians in Bollywood.
She remembers her earlier days as an actress and Channel [V] VJ, hosting and writing several shows before shifting behind camera. Inspired to become a strident storyteller to create fuller fictional experiences, she became dedicated to the craft of screenwriting. Among her significant accomplishments are five feature films with theatrical international releases including Sohail Khan Productions award-winning Kisaan and cult classic I-Proud to be an Indian. As well as multiple series including Virat Kohli’s superhero animation series Super V for Disney+ Hotstar; and Amazon Audible’s double release Uncovidable, which she wrote in English and in Hindi. It’s a humorous semi-autobiographical take of her Covid 19 pandemic lockdown experience in Mumbai which she admits “is cringingly more true than not.”
No stranger to the audio world, Vekeana parlayed her Bollywood experiences as a correspondent on the BBC Asian Network (UK), as well as on current events for the BBC World Service and its General News Service. Realizing theatre offered another opportunity to diversify her skill, Vekeana wrote the book for Wizcraft International’s hugely successful Broadway-style Musical, Balle Balle – The Great Indian Wedding.
Born in India, raised in Canada and working in Mumbai, Vekeana bridges the divide as a straddler; both culturally and professionally. She can still picture that young girl growing up in small-town Alberta; sitting in the elementary school lunchroom eating home-packed pungent pilaf under copious sprays of room deodorizer surrounded by PB&J sandwich munchers. She recalls her freshly immigrated parents scribbling their thoughts in poems and prose as means of synthesizing their experiences. Vekeana believes this cultural currency allows her nimbleness to adapt her thinking to innovate across series and films, varying genres, characters and formats. “I respond to the unusual and evocative. It helps my constant push to create never-seen-before content with a fresh eye warranting a vivid take on humanizing representation. “
Vekeana’s experienced pushback when pitching non-stereotypically diverse characters or storylines. “In this industry, we’re asked to accept rejection as a large part of the experience, so one must develop a literal resilience. Advocating for characters or stories requires an exemplary energy—first to create it into existence by pushing past my own doubts of Will-it Work? or Is-it-any-Good? Then, to fling it out into the world and await its scrutiny.” She believes passion is courage for pursuing what one believes in. When needed she recharges with support of the Co- founders of The Foundry, who interestingly enough, are her family. The Development Head is her husband, Puneet Sira and the Business Head is her brother, Vikram Dhillon. She credits this dependable working relationship for the intense result of her efforts. “I create and write while our company, The Foundry, produces.”
A culturally sharpened, globally experienced writer, Vekeana recognizes content is an evolving terrain. She’s not slowing down or sticking to her lane. Her work continues in scripts and on herself. “As a writer, I know my words count. This makes me mindful of what I say and its impact on others. Kindness is a gracious corrective lens to view ourselves and others.” This spirited, considered approach to life and work makes her a compelling talent to follow. Vekeana hopes her dedication to her craft inspires others in claiming their passion and fuelling it into an expansive career on their terms.