Known for his breakout roles in PITCH PERFECT and on the hit series “The Mindy Project” (as Kaling’s brother Rishi), UTKARSH AMBUDKAR is one of the freshest, smartest, most relevant voices in the business right now. And 2018 promises to be a big year for him.
Ambedkar first appears in the Sundance US Dramatic Competition Opening Night film BLINDSPOTTING, from Carlos López Estrada, one of VARIETY’s “10 Directors to Watch” and starring Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar. Bursting with energy, style, humor, and heartbreak, BLINDSPOTTING takes on today’s issues of race and class with buoyancy and a powerful sense of transcendence. In a largely improvised, pivotal appearance, Ambudkar plays ‘Rin’ a close observer to the story’s protagonists who helps the audience connect the dots and sheds light on the direction of the narrative.
In March, Ambudkar co-stars in the Netflix action/comedy GAME OVER, MAN!, directed by Kyle Newacheck with Adam Devine, Anders Holms and Blake Anderson. Scott Rudin and Eli Bush teamed with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and James Weaver to produce the feature with the Mail Order Comedy troupe that generates the Comedy Central series “Workaholics.” The film is a completely original idea about three friends on the verge of getting their video game financed when their benefactor (Ambudkar) is taken hostage by terrorists.
In early February, Ambudkar stars opposite Brie Larson in the romantic comedy BASMATI BLUES, directed and co-written by Dan Baron.
He recently finished shooting the indie comedy BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON as the romantic lead to the titular character, played by Jillian Bell. The independent feature follows an underachieving and over-partied 28-year-old woman who decides to take control of her life— one New York City block at a time and marks the debut for director Paul Downs Colaizzo. Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe are producing the project with Picture Films’ Margot Hand.
Late last year, Ambudkar was also featured in “The Problem with Apu,” comedian Hari Kondabolu’s documentary about the character from “The Simpsons.” Ambudkar played Apu’s American nephew ‘Jay,’ which gave him the distinction of being the first Indian-American to lend his voice to the show. Along with Whoopi Goldberg, Kal Penn, Hasan Minhaj and others, Ambudkar discusses the cultural ripple effect of Apu becoming one of the most visible “Indian” characters on TV over the last 30 years.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ambudkar received his training as a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of Fine Arts. While in New York, he acted in various plays and received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for his work in “Animals Out of Paper,” by Rajiv Joseph at the Second Stage Theatre.
Multi-hyphenate Ambudkar also discovered a love for hip-hop, performing as a part of the group “The Beatards” with acts such as LMFAO, Santigold, Azealia Banks, Spankrock, G-Easy, Far
East Movement, Public Enemy, and Questlove. This musical ability led to his breakout role in the Universal feature PITCH PERFECT, alongside Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks.
Originating the role of Aaron Burr in the developmental readings of “Hamilton,” Ambudkar reunited with Lin-Manuel Miranda as part of the improvisational rap group “Freestyle Love Supreme,” performing live in New York City under the name “UTK the INC.” In 2016, Seeso streamed episodes of “Freestyle Love Supreme,” based on live performances in which the musical comedy group would turn audience cues into musical numbers. The show originally aired on Pivot in 2014. The group is performing to sold-out audiences from Jan 28-March 3, 2019 Off-Broadway in New York City.
Ambudkar’s additional TV credits include Showtime’s “White Famous,” produced by Jamie Foxx and created by Tom Kapinos (“Californication”) in which he stole scenes as Malcolm, Jay Pharoah’s agent. His credits also include “House of Lies,” with Don Cheadle, TNT’s “Legends,” opposite Sean Bean, a recurring arc on ABC’s “The Muppets” and a guest role on HULU’s anthology series “Dimension 404.”On the big screen, Ambudkar appeared in Universal’s RIDE ALONG 2 with Kevin Hart and IceCube, with whom he also co-starred in BARBERSHOP 3. He stars in Disney’s MULAN, set for theaters in 2019. His newest film Brittney Runs a Marathon is being showcased at Sundance 2019. Utkarsh’s newest role is in Disney Junior’s Mira, Royal Detective, slated for 2020, and will feature an all Indian cast.
A rapper and creative from an early age, Utkarsh was an original member of The Beatards, an NYC-based underground hip-hop group in the early 2000s, the group performed alongside acts like Santigold, Azealia Banks, G-Eazy, Tao Cruz, LMFAO, Public Enemy, Questlove and more. His work with the Beatards eventually helped land him his role in Pitch Perfect.
Utkarsh also just released his newest musical project. An album entitled Vanity. In his own words: The new project “Vanity” is an exploration of the brown experience in a social-media-driven Hollywood. It’s about pointing out the barriers and obstacles that we face, and then breaking them all the way down. I love all the tracks on the project, but “Vanity”, “Rufio” and “Kane” all stand out to me. You can listen to “Vanity” and “Rufio” right now, which feature Rafa Casal and Daveed Diggs and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dante Basco respectively. “Kane” is a banger, though. That shit knocks. Tis a thumper. A most exuberant frolic into the nether-regions of dope. It’s a good effin time. I like how Chuck Wild (longtime collaborator) and I found a way to mix Old-School toasting with a contemporary sound. I hope everyone makes a dance video to it.
With another album almost complete, there doesn’t show any signs of Utkarsh slowing down anytime soon.