Arundati Thandur on Making a Modern Period Drama
The Director Talks TikTok, Gen-Z and Branded Entertainment
Until recent years, period product commercials represented menstrual blood as a clinical blue liquid. I’m Dying Inside, Arundati Thandur’s new TikTok series for Modibodi, shows no such squeamishness. From period sex to endometriosis flare-ups to being bloated when you’re trying to rock corporate chic attire, the show explores a range of modern period experiences with honesty and humour – following four housemates as they navigate the trials and tribulations of young adult life on your period.
Created via Howatson+Company, I’m Dying Inside launches Modibodi’s new ‘Modibasics’ collection of period undies, designed specifically for Gen-Z. The format of a TikTok series was used to meet the generation where they’re at, something Director Arundati Thandur knows a thing or two about. “This approach to the creative shows a genuine understanding of what Gen Z cares about and what they respond to,” she tells me. “I love Gen Z. There’s a cool, calm, nihilistic, nonchalant demeanor up front, but deep down lies a passionate, outspoken and diverse group of people.”
Gen-Z are resistant to traditional advertising, so Thandur saw leaning into a relatable and immersive narrative world as a way to help viewers authentically connect to the product. “Gen Z value authenticity. They want to cut through the bullshit. We know Modibodi underwear is an absolute necessity, it’s effective. So rather than focus on plugging a product, we focused on appealing to the humanity of the characters and the wonderful details around the product in the story world.”
These details emerged largely through conversations between the team. “Especially when we were in that first writer’s room all brainstorming together, it was just so open. Everyone was telling really intimate, detailed stories about getting their period and there was no shame around it or anything. It’s like how you would talk to a close housemate about getting your period.”
The cast brought together actors, comedians and TikTok stars alike, all of whose personal experiences and ideas informed the final show. “Rehearsing it with them was really helpful because they’re all so funny and their offers are great. It was not just them asking me questions, I was asking them questions.”
On the comedy of I’m Dying Inside, Thandur says the idea was to be bold but also genuine – because on TikTok artificial attempts to appear ‘down with the kids’ are sniffed out from miles away.
“Funny is funny. They don’t want to be told what to think. If they like it, they like it. You don’t know what’s going to go viral. It could be anything. From a kid singing with a Nemo puppet to a man finding new ways to put parmesan on his pasta.” The trick is to be true to the brand and have fun with it. A strategy that’s borne out in the over 2 million TikTok views I’m Dying Inside has already clocked up.
Shooting for TikTok meant rethinking all the usual production rules. Footage was shot in 9:16, writing had to hook viewers in the first three seconds, and more than 30 minutes of content was captured in two days. To cater to the vast TikTok ecosystem, an array of BTS footage was released alongside the series, giving viewers a chance to dig deeper and scroll further.
“If filmmaking was a walk, creating successful online content is sprinting. We were forced to think outside the box. But do it at a pace that’s able to keep up with what’s funny on the internet.”
What emerges from this process is an exciting new development in the world of branded entertainment. A new frontier for expression. For young creatives like Arundati Thandur, it’s about being switched on and part of that ever-evolving landscape of story.