Manish Dayal

Indian American actor Manish Dayal of “The Hundred Foot Journey” has signed on to star in “Uppercut,” set in the boxing world of Jackson Heights, New York.

New York — Manish Dayal, an Indian American actor most recently seen in “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” is set to star in the New York-set boxing story, ”Uppercut,” penned by Black List writer Neeraj Katyal (“The Amazing Adventures of the Monogamous Duck”).

In the wake of “Hundred-Foot” finding success at the global box-office, Dayal connected with New York-based producer Atit Shah (“A Conspiracy on Jekyll Island”) and the two, who are longtime friends, began putting the project together via Shah's Create Entertainment banner.

Dayal will play Shiva Singhavi, a young boxer raised in the blue-collar Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights. As he moves up the ranks of fighters, Singhavi struggles to navigate the gritty underworld of fixed fights, grimy gyms, and dirty cops.

Racial tensions escalate following a shooting that Shiva is the sole witness to, and the street-smart athlete soon finds himself caught between a police force that protected him and the community that raised him.

“I'm excited to be a part of this film. ‘Uppercut' is a story about a world we still haven’t explored on screen,” said Dayal.

“It portrays a resilient, unseen part of New York and a community that is confronted with evolved injustices like NYC’s stop-and-frisk program, racial profiling, and growing, underreported crime — all seen through the eyes of a young man whose dreams and ambition are at stake.”

The actor was born and brought up in South Carolina, in a large family originally from a small town outside Surat, Gujarat. He earned a BA at George Washington University before moving to New York to attend the city’s Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. But he didn’t always want to be an actor, he confided.

“I started out wanting to be a producer or director, and one day as a favor to a friend I went in front of the camera,” Dayal told India-West in an earlier interview.

“I had no clue how to act, but I really liked it. I had fun, and I think I understood it. In New York, where I lived, I did some commercials and some little jobs, and then I moved to Los Angeles, where I got a TV series and recurring roles on TV.”

Meanwhile, Dayal has optioned and plans to make a film based on Anjan Sundaram’s “Stringer: A Reporter’s Year in the Congo,” which was published in February last year to rave reviews from National Public Radio, The Guardian and many other media.

Time Out Mumbai calls it “a fascinating, breathtaking work of reporting and introspection from a writer whose next work will be eagerly awaited”; and the Daily Beast calls it “a remarkable debut, an eye-opening account of life in the Third World that doubles as a fascinating story of a novice reporter earning his stripes in the most inhospitable environment imaginable.”

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