Earlier this year, Indian American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar’s new film, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” won the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. And now the emotional comedy inspired by real events — which released Aug. 23 — is garnering rave reviews.
Apart from an inspirational and entertaining theme, this new Amazon Studios film offers Ambudkar a role not dictated by his ethnicity. Ambudkar, who plays Jern, also plays the love interest of the film’s protagonist, Jillian Bell (“22 Jump Street”), aka Brittany.
“It’s a little bit revolutionary…as a South Asian man the roles that I’ve gotten…, you’ll see that this is a departure. You’ll see that in many ways, it’s totally normal, but to normalize brown people for the general viewing public has been a slow-going road,” the actor/rapper told Salon.com. “I kept getting called ‘Slurpee boy’ in school, so pop culture, in that the way we (South Asians) were perceived with very little representation, really affected the way that we were treated outside the movie theater or off the television screen.”
Based loosely on writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s roommate and good friend, Brittany O’Neil, the film is about a party girl who finally finds real friends — and dignity — by taking control of her future, one city block at a time.
According to the film’s synopsis, hilarious, outgoing and always up for a good time, New Yorker Brittany Forgler is everybody’s best friend — except maybe her own. At 27, her hard-partying ways, chronic underemployment and toxic relationships are catching up with her, but when she stops by a new doctor’s office to try to score some Adderall, she gets slapped with a prescription she never wanted: get healthy. Too broke for a gym and too proud to ask for help, Brit is at a loss, until her seemingly together neighbor Catherine pushes her to lace up her Converse sneakers and run one sweaty block. The next day, she runs two. And soon, after finishing her first mile, she sets an almost unthinkable goal: running in the New York City Marathon.
The film is produced by Tobey Maguire (“The Best of Enemies,” “Pawn Sacrifice”), Matthew Plouffe (“The Fifth Wave”) and Margot Hand, (“Permission”).