He’s a dancer, an actor, a touring comedian, an award-winning director, a UCLA graduate, a World Hunger ambassador, and now – one of the hottest new WRITERS in town. But did we mention, that he’s 22 years old?
We first caught up with Sunny Tripathy (who’s come to be known as ‘Sunny T’) back in 2011 when his online series Keeping Up With the Guptas went viral.
But when we bumped into the eye-candy at the Miss India pageant last month, we decided to follow up on what he was up to now. And what we found, led not just to more questions, but to a full-scale investigation.
This past July, Sunny resumed a Stand Up Tour that had started back in 2007, when he had won the first season of Last Teen Comic Standing. At the time, he performed across California and Canada, though eventually took hiatus to finish higher education. “I wanted to finish school. In the entertainment industry, a college degree is an insurance policy worth having”.
And so, with an academic standing he calls “less than Asian”, he graduated from the UCLA College of Letters & Science this past July. With less than a day to prepare, Sunny was flown out to Seattle to resume the stand up tour, which he claimed had “matured greatly” since 2007. While in Washington, he performed back-to-back shows, each night drawing anywhere from 500 to 750 people.
The best part – though his expenses and accommodations were covered, Sunny refused to take paycheck for his performances, all of which raised money for non-profits. When complimented on his outstanding charity work, including his support to the UN World Food Programme, Sunny smiled and said, “I’m just trying to up my karma points. So technically, I’m just selfish.”
But Sunny has long been known for his humorous and modest dismal of praise. “Praise gives me a feeling of safety and completion. Call me weird, but I prefer criticism and even occasional failure. In fact, my biggest failures usually laid seed to my biggest accomplishments. I guess there’s something about resistance, that makes you stronger, faster, and better. Quite akin the effect weightlifting has on muscle growth.”
After his last standup performance in Seattle, Sunny was seen celebrating at an afterpaty with guests that had attended from as far as Vancouver, Toronto, New York, and California. “The turnout was amazing. And probably an accident. I wouldn’t even drive a mile to see me perform, yet alone fly.”
But the humble comedian who stayed to sign autographs and take pictures took to his Facebook to offer a special thanks to “fans, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey” (both from the Seattle Sounders) and “Paul Allen” (The investor, philanthropist, and Co-Founder of Microsoft)
When asked about the names, Sunny said, “Andy’s a great friend and just a super super talented guy. He and Alex showed me such a good time, I’ll have to come bother them again soon.” Sunny would not however comment on why he mentioned Paul Allen.
An organizer from the OSA (which had sponsored one of the events) mentioned that Sunny had been chauffeured to a private residence at Mercer Island shortly after the first stage rehearsal. That same day, a Facebook picture was also taken from Paul Allen’s dock, leaving us to wonder what the young entrepreneur was doing at the billionaire’s house in the first place, and why was he “thanking” one of world’s wealthiest investors. Curious to say the least.
Even last April, Sunny was seen dining and discussing an “investment” with Chinese billionaire and Panda Express Co-Founder Peggy Cherng at a private event in Pasadena. But what “investment” a self-made billionaire (from the restaurant industry) and a 22-year-old (from the entertainment industry) could be collaborating on, is an even bigger mystery. Once again, Sunny declined to comment.
Despite his public prominence, Sunny Tripathy is known to be a very private individual, occasionally even shy. “I strive to keep my personal life and my professional life separate. It can be hard at times, but I’ve found that keeping quiet, can go a long way.”
In fact, Sunny is notorious for keeping secretive not only about his work, but his relationships as well. The Canadian-Born Indian-American who has been linked to several women (including one of Dolce & Gabana’s top female models earlier this year) refuses to discuss any personal or romantic affairs.
Even when we interviewed two of his old college roommates, we were told, “He doesn’t talk about it. Sunny keeps everything on the DL, or just changes the subject.” The second roommate laughed and said “I remember one time we found some girl’s lingerie in his room, and when we asked whose it was, he snatched it away and said ‘my grandma’s.’”
Two weeks ago, Sunny was also seen at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood, sitting next to Metta World Peace (Ron Artest of the Lakers) and pop singer ‘Vinita’. The three were seen laughing and enjoying the Comedy Slam Dunk event, which Metta was hosting for his charity foundation. After the show, Sunny, Vinita, and Metta left together in the NBA star’s Mercedes while Paparazzi and TMZ trailed them to the light. This was the first time Sunny and Vinita were seen in public, and though we’re not here to spread rumors, it was as always, curious.
Sunny (who did not perform at Metta’s show) is now taking a break from stand up though is scheduled to perform in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago in the summer of next year. The theme for next year’s shows: A 6-city tour promoting his first book – “God Loves Everyone, Except You.” Yes, this 22-year-old has a book coming out next year too.
UA: “We heard you’re still in between titles for the book. What were some of the other choices?”
Sunny: “My first title was actually ‘The Last Sunset of Willowgoat Fern.’”
UA: “What was the significance behind that?”
Sunny: “Nothing. It was just pretentious, completely irrelevant, and academic. It had just enough flare to sound like a Pulitzer Prize Winner or an Oscar-Nominated Film. And it sounded even better in a British accent. ‘The Lahst Sunset of Willoh-gote Ferne.’… ‘And the Oscar goes to…’”
UA: “That sounds hilarious. So why did you change it?”
Sunny: “I guess we were scared that older demographics would pick up the book expecting to sob through some romantic period-piece and would instead drop dead half way through my first chapter on college. The material requires a strong eye.”
UA: “Having read parts, it does however get quite inspirational towards the end, wouldn’t you say?”
Sunny: “Absolutely. It starts as a collection of hilarious college stories and family riot, but ends with a far deeper message. It’s the kind of book that Oprah would never put in her book club, but would secretly read in her bathtub; it might not inspire her, but it would make her laugh until she shit. …Which would be frustrating since she had just taken a bath.”
The manuscript, which a publisher calls a mix of “Shit My Dad Says” and “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”, supposedly began after a tragic relationship in Sunny’s personal life, though Sunny says “You’d have to read it” to know for sure.
Okay, so he’s a comedian, a humanitarian and soon to be author. But did you know that this miracle-child also has a miracle-face?
Sunny Tripathy, a strict vegetarian who has modeled for brands like Adidas and BearWear, hit even more spotlight by winning Mr. India West Coast and Mr. Photogenic 2012 at this year’s Miss India America pageant. But when asked about plans to continue modeling on a professional level, Sunny was quick to call it an “occasional” and “less than-part-time” interest.
UA: “As a child you were bullied for being an ‘overweight nerd’. Even in high school, you were the victim of a racial hate crime that landed you in the news. What do you have to say to those people now?”
Sunny: “Thank you. You were the rocks that gave the creek its song.”
UA: “Well said. So how does it feel now that you’re an Indian sex symbol?”
Sunny “Me? A sex symbol? Wow, the market must be really down. Either that, or you should probably get some standards.”
But perhaps it is this kind of modest playfulness that makes the “Sunny T” empire so appealing. As a matter of fact, the model turned actor is rumored to have also landed his first lead role in an upcoming feature film. That’s right! Sunny, who has made appearances in several music videos, the series Keeping Up With the Guptas, and films such as Troublemaker and Dance Flick, may soon be the star of an upcoming movie.
His manager confirmed he has been in talks with a director from one of Kal Penn’s (Harold & Kumar) former films, for an upcoming romantic comedy. But when we asked Sunny for details, Sunny once again responded in his typical jokester ambiguity by saying “Movies sometimes have actors.” A representative from the film said that Sunny chose to pass on the project due to a “conflict of timing” though the director is supposedly trying to accommodate the shoot to the 22-year-old’s busy schedule.
So what’s got this multi-faceted playboy so busy that he’s dismissing modeling contracts, taking breaks from a thriving stand up tour, and turning down major acting offers? Better yet, why is he meeting with billionaires, hanging with celebrities, and all awhile being so mysterious?
Well here’s what we know:
SunnyTFilms, a mini-production team founded with Sahil Punamia, Melissa Nemcek, and Michael Vayder back in 2010, had completed several short films including Naked Innocence, which won seven awards and premiered at the Steven J. Ross Theater at Warner Brothers that a few years back. Since then, the team has won several awards at various festivals, including commercial competitions such as the Bruin Video Contest.
But Sunny, who has also been directing and editing commercials for international companies like bebe since the age of 17, is not new to the commercial world. In fact, he has long received recognition for his commercial work, including an award of merit from the California Senate (when he was 16) and marketing gigs for Grammy-Winning artists by the age of 18. By the time he was 21, he had finished writing and directing a range of shorts and television pilots, culminating with the most impressive of the bunch – a project called The Locket. The film, based on the Oslo Bombings, is currently making its way through the festival circuits and a feature version is planned, though Sunny says is unlikely.
More recently, he and his friend Sahil Punamia entered a MoFilm commercial competition in which they had to write, direct, and edit a commercial within 7 hours of receiving a prompt. The duo, who were the youngest and smallest group amid a sea of veterans, ended up winning 1st place at the competition. Their car commercial, which later became a concept for the Chevy Volt, didn’t even feature the actual car. “We didn’t have the car at our disposal, so we had to get creative.”
Sunny: “I don’t always have the resources or the money. But I have my mind, and for now, that is my money.”
Well perhaps it is that kind of creativity and mindset that brings us to the last, and most exciting story of all.
Back in 2011, Sunny had mentioned he was in “development” for a slate of feature films, though as far as we knew, they were all fairly independent in nature. Though most were kept under wraps, we were told about one of the scripts Sunny had written.
Sunny (in 2011): “ ‘Sing Maya’ is a heart-warming drama about a black orphan who overcomes prejudice through her unique voice. A voice that wins her not only a new family, but revives the one from tragic past.”
UA: “We heard from a co-producer that the project is being discussed at Overbrook Entertainment (Will Smith’s production company). Is it possible that Willow Smith is going to be playing the lead?”
Sunny (with a smile) : “Anything’s ‘possible’. I can’t really say.”
But as cool as that project sounds, it seems the esoteric writer has also written something much, much bigger. In fact, it may be the biggest. Ever.
In July of 2011, the writer was contracted to write a high-budget film based on a “Hindu Mythology”. The project, which was discussed under code name “DiamondMine”, was supposedly a top-secret script with a budget rumored to be in the hundreds of millions. Neither Sunny nor his manager would comment on the details of the film.
When UrbanAsian’s on-location reporter questioned Sunny about the film in August, Sunny just smiled and said “the great thing about the future is that it’s not here yet.”
… A frustrating response for any journalist.
Well UrbanAsian’s CIA (Celebrity Intelligence) decided to flex its muscle, and here’s what we found out.
1) Sunny has been meeting privately with a range of talent in regards to Project “DiamondMine”. The list includes Oscar winner AR Rahman, a plethora of A-list producers including those of Chronicles of Narnia and Salt, and an executive from Marvel. Most of the Hollywood titans could not be reached, and those who were, were not allowed to comment on the project.
2) Brandon Bakhshi, an intern at 20th Century Fox is one of the few who has read the script in question. But due to confidentiality contracts, his response was limited.
Brandon: “I was not familiar with the story prior to reading the script, but was immediately drawn to its characters and their relationships. It was very well done… not only was it understandable, it was captivating. I know that with Sunny working on it, it’s in good hands. With the right collaborators, I think the final product will be extremely rewarding.”
3) A creative producer on the script has supposedly been traveling to different countries to scope locations for a huge “war”.
4) A lawyer from the team said the script is being protected with advanced encryption and user-detection to avoid a script-leaking incident as nearly occurred with the Harry Potter franchise in 2010.
So… War? Hindu Mythology? Harry Potter, Marvel and Chronicles of Narnia? Could it be, that for the first time ever, one of the world’s largest book franchises (comparable only to the Bible) is finally being turned into a big-budget Hollywood film? Our bets, YES!
We can’t be sure, and only time will tell, but our guess, is that it’s finally happening – The Mahabharat is coming to the silver screen!
The Mahabharat(a) is one of the world’s most beloved scriptures. Its original manuscript consists of more than 1.8 million words, making it about ten times longer than both The Illiad and Odyssey combined! The mythological war tale, which is religion to nearly half the world’s population, has been a desired topic for many international filmmakers. Though for one reason or another, most have been unable to decipher the story into a mainstream script that can command an international box office.
Or at least until this hip 22-year-old from UCLA, spun it with a whole new “cool”.
We’re still learning about this development, but stay tuned to UrbanAsian as we bring you the latest AS it happens WHEN it happens.
And as for Sunny, best of luck with your other endeavors, and we look forward to hearing more! Or in your case, maybe not hearing more.
A prime example where talking less and doing more, might just be the best way to go!
For more information on Sunny you can check out the Sunny T Films Website: www.sunnytfilms.com