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Mango Dreams director John Upchurch on Pankaj Tripathi: “I insisted that his acting speaks all languages”

The film will be released on Open Theatre on May 16th after traveling to a series of film festivals.

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John Upchurch and Pankaj Tripathi during Mango Dreams shooting

Debutant Director John Upchurch Talks About His Working Experience with Pankaj Tripathi in the Award-Winning Film ‘Mango Dreams’. The film will be released on Open Theatre on May 16th after traveling to a series of film festivals. The film boasts an ensemble cast including Pankaj Tripathi, Ram Gopal Bajaj, Sameer Kochhar, Faraz Ahsan, Laxmi Rawat, Rohini Hattangadi, Naseeruddin Shah, Riju Bajaj, Mohit Pal, Shreyas Shah, S. M. Zaheer, Mahabir Bhullar, Kamna Pathak, and Gurinder Makna.

Sharing how he convinced Pankaj Tripathi to deliver his dialogue in English for the role, Upchurch said, “Although his wife was an English teacher, Pankaj spoke only a little English when I met him. When I first asked him about the film, he told me that he doesn’t do English roles. But I insisted that his acting speaks all languages. After he read the script, he was committed to the project. The script and the message it tell are the main reasons why most of the cast and crew agreed to work on the film. Everyone sacrificed for this film.”

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Sharing his working experience with Pankaj Tripathi, he said, “I loved working with Pankaj. I know him as a passionate actor, a loving husband and father, and a joker. He’s quick-witted and always ready with a punchline. Although I don’t speak or understand Hindi, I could appreciate his many jokes on set. Regarding his work, he respects the director’s vision and excels like no other at bringing a character to life.”

John shared his preference for working with new or relatively lesser-known actors from India, considering the challenges in the industry, especially regarding the box office success of films featuring new actors. “Even Pankaj Tripathi was a lesser-known actor when we made ‘Mango Dreams.’ But, through Prime and Netflix, he is now known worldwide. Part of my preference for working with new or lesser-known actors is financial. I am a poor independent filmmaker. I make movies more for passion than money. Newer actors are often more adventurous and more willing to take risks. They are not prisoners of success and can work more for passion than money. Also, the newer and lesser-known actors I’ve worked with are more genuine and believable on film.”

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Sharing his thoughts about the Open Theatre platform, which primarily promotes new actors and filmmakers, Upchurch commented, “I love the Open Theatre platform. I love that they give each film the entire movie treatment, including poster launch, trailer launch, and premiere. They do what they do more for passion than money. But, the system they’ve developed can help independent filmmakers like myself reach a larger.”

Discussing his deep tie to India, which inspired his film on Indian themes, he explained, “My connection to India stems from my wife and her family, who hail from Orissa. Despite working in America, we return to India for a month annually. Upon retirement, we plan to spend more time there.’ He added that the story’s inception predated his marriage and visits to India, focusing on the central question: ‘Would two brothers, separated at birth and reunited after 70 years, still share a bond?”

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