EXCLUSIVE: Utkarsh Ambudkar is on a hot streak.
The actor is the star of CBS’ breakout comedy Ghosts, which wraps its first season tonight, and appeared in Hulu’s Theranos drama series The Dropout.
He has now set a feature film that he conceived, co-wrote, produced and is co-starring in at Disney+.
World’s Best tells the story of a young math kid who vows to become the world’s best MC.
Roshan Sethi, who made his feature directorial debut with 7 Days, the 2022 Independent Spirit Award winner for Best First Feature, directs. Principal photography starts in May.
It co-stars Space Force’s Punam Patel, who Ambudkar worked with on Netflix’s Special and also played his sister on Ghosts, and Manny Magnus, who stars in Amazon’s I Want You Back.
World’s Best follows 12-year-old Prem, played by Magnus, as he navigates life as that junior high kid in the high school math class. After his best friend Jerome abandons him for the popular group, Prem never feels more alone, despite the support of his mother Priya (Patel). But when Prem discovers that his late father Suresh (Ambudkar) was a great rapper, his new destiny is sealed. With renewed purpose (and some helpful, albeit imaginary, appearances from Suresh), Prem vows to break out of the mold of “math kid” and become the world’s best MC.
Ambudkar initially pitched the idea to Disney’s Sean Bailey in February 2020 and wrote the feature with Jessica Jones writer Jamie King. The pair have written together for a number of years after King would go to watch Ambudkar battle rap at NYC’s now defunct Leopard Lounge, which appears in the film.
Ambudkar is also collaborating with a number of friends. Thomas Kail, who scored a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Film with 2020’s Freestyle Love Supreme, in which Ambudkar co-starred, produces alongside his business partner Kate Sullivan.
He is writing and co-producing the music with longtime collaborator Charlie B. Wilder, while Academy Award nominee Savan Kotecha (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga) is the music director.
Sethi, who is also a palliative radiation oncologist, is the co-creator of the medical drama series The Resident, now in its fifth season on Fox. Allison Erlikhman is the production executive for Disney.
Ambudkar said, “Collaborating with Disney on a feature about a nuclear South Asian family with music at its heart means a lot to me personally. I can’t wait to bring World’s Best to life with friends and colleagues I’ve known a long time, as well as people whose work is relatively new to me. After seeing his first feature, I knew Roshan Sethi could capture the intricacies, humor and energy of World’s Best. Manny Magnus is a special find. He’s been dancing and performing his own music since he was 6 years old. And I know firsthand that Punam Patel will bring laughs and warmth to the role of Priya, the matriarch. I hope World’s Best will be super fun, both to make and watch.”
Ambudkar is repped by Gersh, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Michael A. Auerbach at Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein. Sethi is repped by WME and Lit Entertainment Group, Patel is repped by APA and Management 360, and Magnus is repped by CESD Talent Agency, People Store and Industry Entertainment.
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