His directorial venture Keeping up with the Guptas—a sharp, witty take on a family of five—has today gone viral. His last film, Naked Innocence, despite having been shot in only 72 hours, received countless awards and was screened by Warner Bros in June.
The achievements don’t stop there. He is also a comedian, model, actor, World Hunger ambassador, entrepreneur, director and even a writer...all at the age of 23. Sunny Tripathy, Odia-born and brought up in the US, is certainly a multi-tasker.
Beginning his career as a stand-up comedian in a reality TV show Last Teen Comic Standing at the age of 13, he has come a long way. At 20, he launched his own Production Company—SunnyTFilms. He gathered a team and began producing comedies, drama and most importantly films that are based on social issues. His Naked Innocence is based on child suicides in the US.
He and his team at SunnyTFilms are also assisting the World Hunger Project with a programme called Take 5, aimed at ending global poverty. Last time he was in Odisha, he visited Nayagarh and made a short film on slum kids as a part of the Take 5 programme. The film raised $7,000. “It’s a strong medium to educate and make people aware,” he says.
Tripathy has been making films ever since he was a teen. “Some people are born into connections, born into wealth. I was not. I knew that if I wanted to make it, I have to work hard. I relied on inspiration from my role models including Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith, and others, and just kept moving forward as best I could,” he says. And so he did, and when he was 16, his short film Fight for Peace won an achievement award from the California Senate, distinguishing him as one of the youngest award-winning filmmakers of his time.
Today, Tripathy is one of the new faces of Mountain Dew, has a book coming out this year called God Loves Everyone, Except You, and a few television and film projects in the pipeline. The youth said he is also preparing to shoot a massive season finale for the web series Keeping Up with the Guptas.
“We just finished filming a reality TV pilot called The Grind. The show follows three teams of young entrepreneurs and artistes on the day-to-day (not so glamorous) life within the entertainment industry. It shows that those of us that work in entertainment do it because of our undying passion for the art. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into an artiste’s work, and almost always, those moments go unnoticed and unpublicised. The Grind shows the perseverance and turmoil that lead up to an artiste’s or entrepreneur’s success,” he says.
This apart, he is working on one of his most ambitious projects titled Mahabharat. The project, he says, is still classified. “I will say though, that it is incredibly exciting. I have been working on the film for two years. It is a brilliant story with all ingredients of a blockbuster, love, war and action. Mahabharat has a demography that surpasses any other legend to date. But, for a variety of reasons the Mahabharat has not yet been decrypted for a Hollywood-studio blockbuster. There are two million words, hundreds of thousands of versions, confusing characters (especially for Western audiences) and intricate back-stories to each that make it a near impossible endeavour,” he says. Tripathy recently finished scripting the movie after going through nearly 300 drafts.
He says the budget of the film will be around $100 million and it will take about three years to complete. The cast would be a combination of actors from Bollywood and Hollywood.