Birthday: 16th August, 1981
Marital status: Single
Awards: IIFA for Best Newcomer, Voted India’s 50 Most Beautiful People, Voted Sexiest Man in India (twice), first British-born Indian to win a National Society Young Achievers’ Award
Upen Patel’s rags to riches tale starts on a gritty council estate in Tottenham, north London, where he was born on August 16, 1981. His family had emigrated from Uganda in east Africa to set down permanent roots in the UK.
Upen’s exotic good looks prompted a career in modelling at a young age. With brains as well as beauty on his side, Upen was in great demand as a popular catalog model during his teenage years . However, studies were important and he focused on a media studies course at West Herts Regional College, before moving on to gain a BSc in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. All this whilst still juggling a demanding modelling schedule!
In his early 20s, Upen’s modelling career soared. He appeared on covers and editorials for GQ, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, L’Officiel, Men’s Health, Grazia, Man’s World, and Stardust. Upen was one of the first Indian male models to feature in mainstream campaigns and runway shows for renowned designers including Versace, Hugo Boss, Ermenegildo Zegna and Tommy Hilfiger. He is also the only Indian male model to have appeared on the runway and in campaigns for 17 of India’s biggest designers year after year including Wendell Rodricks, Rohit Bal, Rocky S, Manish Malthora and JJ Valaya, which led him being crowned for many years as Asia’s biggest male supermodel.
His soaring modelling career led to further opportunities including over 150 music videos, print campaigns and television commercials across the country. His big break, which set him on the road to his current stardom, was winning Zee TV’s hunt for a supermodel in 2002. As a result, he was flown to India to appear in India’s Fashion Week held in Delhi. He was spotted by India’s top photographer Atul Kasbekar, who promptly chose him to star in top designer JJ Valaya’s first ever men’s couture campaign.
It was during this time that Upen began to win a stream of awards. He was featured in the top ten sexiest men in Asia for five years in a row and won Model of the Year at the Asia Fashion Awards four years in a row. He was also awarded MTV India’s most stylish male icon for two years running and was chosen as one of India’s 50 Most Beautiful People, as well as being voted Sexiest Man in India twice.
Upen’s move into Bollywood was a natural one. In 2006 he made his film debut in 36 China Town. The film was directed by ace duo Abbas-Mustan and was a huge box office success, winning critical acclaim for its directors and for Upen, who won several awards including an IFA – the Indian equivalent of an Oscar, for best newcomer. The ceremony was watched by over a billion people worldwide. His Bollywood bankability was cemented. Leading roles in huge productions such as Namastey London and Shakalaka Boom Boom followed, grossing millions of dollars at the box office worldwide.
After his successful entry into the film world, Upen was signed up by Provogue, India’s biggest youth brand, to be the face of their campaign. This saw him tagged as India’s youth icon! In addition, he was the first British-born Indian to win a National Society Young Achievers’ Award and was also featured as the superstar of tomorrow by India Today and Time Magazine.
In 2011, Upen took time out from acting to complete a diploma in filmmaking from the National Institute of Film and Television in the UK, as well earning a scriptwriting diploma from Rain dance. He also studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Actors’ Studio in Los Angeles.
To date, Upen has worked with some of the biggest directors and production houses in Bollywood. His movies are watched by over a billion people worldwide. He also drew LA’s Independence Day Parade’s largest crowd of 50,000 when he was its first ever male Grand Marshall. 2013 is set to be the year Upen Patel goes global, in both the fashion and film world. He has shot campaigns, look books and editorials for several top UK fashion brands and completed a short British independent movie with a well-known British actress which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. He is also attached to star as the lead in Yann Dahn’s next French action thriller, and is currently completing Tamil film ‘I’ directed by S.Shakar which is rumored to be India’s most expensive film ever made.