– David Morgan-Brown
Umrika is the heart-rendering story of a family in a small village in India, where a young man named Udai leaves for America, and sends letters and photographs back to his family that show his journey and discoveries. Despite the ecstatic happiness and pride of the family, his brother Ramakant (Suraj Sharma) soon finds out the truth after a death in the family and soon embarks on his own journey to America, first leaving the village and travelling to the city of Mumbai to discover even more. He is joined in his adventure by the rather rambunctious Lalu, played by Tony Revolori, who I recently spoke to about his role in this new Indian film and how it compares to his previous acting roles, which include Zero the lobby-boy from The Grand Budapest Hotel.
“I just tried to make it an original character,” Tony says about playing Lalu. “After I saw the film for the first time, I ended up thinking it was very much like the Stiles character in the original Teen Wolf movie, I think that’s what Lalu reminded me of. Not that I tried to be, but it just ended up being.”
“Culturally, getting into the mind of Lalu, an Indian boy, it was not that hard,” he says about getting into his character. “I had a father who was born in Guatemala which is a third-world country and as such he gave me quite insight into his life and so I was able to see where these kids’ mentalities come from and as such I created the character of Lalu.”
This was quite the learning experience for Tony, as a role like this introduced him to new challenges that he seemed to take on with the confidence of a real actor. “It was obviously different because it was something I’ve never done before, I was speaking a different language, I was in a different culture, and it was different, although albeit the same at the same time.” Tony explains how acting in different roles actually has a universal quality to it. “Just as you might imagine all characters are unique and all characters are the same in a weird way. I know that doesn’t make sense, but … it’s that everyone can feel the same emotions, you can make characters similar and as such create wonderful characters.”
Tony is a rather young actor at the moment, but is showing the determination, confidence, and hard work ethic of a proper performer (he was about to star in a play in America as I interviewed him), which seems to show we have an aspiring young actor who’s definitely someone to look out for. He continues to explain his acting method: “Characteristics I feel like you can find within any character, because everyone can feel happiness, everyone can feel sadness, everyone can feel pain and misery and as such can make you feel lost.” It’s likely that young Tony will be able to translate this effective acting philosophy to the many other grand roles he’ll receive in what looks to be a promising acting career.