“I never imagined this. I was never prepared for it, frankly,” admits Anupam Tripathi, who plays endearing Pakistani migrant Ali Abdul in Netflix’s No. 1 show “Squid Game.” For our recent online chat, he adds, “I was just doing my job, sincerely with honesty, whatever I could, because as an immigrant in Korea, as an actor in Korea, I was trying to find my own way there. I was just doing my job and suddenly it became like people really liked my character. I felt so good; honesty and sincerity help you connect with people. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Squid Game” was designed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, who not only created and produced “Squid Game,” but also wrote and directed all nine episodes. Tripathi shares the spotlight alongside the Korean superstar Lee Jung-jae as hero Gi-hun, newcomer Jung Ho Yeon as destitute North Korean refugee Sae-byeok, Hae-soo Park like the Sang-woo calculator, Wi Ha-jun as undercover cop Jun-ho, Heo Sung-tae as the villainous Deok-su, Lee Yoomi like the stoic Ji-yeong, Oh Young-soo into a frail old man Il-nam and Kim Joo-ryoung like deliciously unbalanced Mi-nyeo. The dramatic thriller centers on the story of unlucky people in desperate need of money, who each receive mysterious invitations to join a life-and-death dangerous version of their childhood games in order to win a cash prize of 45.6 billion won (equivalent to approximately US$38 million).
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Each game featured in the series is based on a traditional Korean children’s game (like Red Light Green Light for example), but in this “sinister amusement park”, the consequence of losing a game is a painful death. Who will be the winner and what is the purpose of this game? Of the 456 participants from all walks of life who are locked in a secret place to play Game 1, only a handful remain to play Game 6. Netflix premiered all nine episodes of the Korean dystopian thriller on September 17 this year. last, after which it became a word-of-mouth sensation and the launch of the streaming giant’s most popular series, topping the Netflix charts in more than 80 countries. After all its commercial success, “Squid Game” could dominate at the Emmys this year, following its three surprise wins at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Lee won Best Dramatic Actor, Jung won Best Dramatic Actress and the series’ stunt team is proud. shared in the price of the stunt set. Oh also recently tasted victory, winning a Golden Globe in the competitive Best Supporting Actor Dramatic category.
Tripathi has become one of the cast’s most popular actors, thanks in large part to his talent for imbuing downtrodden migrant worker Ali with a charming and often childlike innocence. Ali entered the game to support his young family after his exploitative employer stopped paying him for six months, eventually teaming up with Gi-hun, Il-nam, and Sang-woo to outsmart the puppeteers behind the game. and go as far as he can. He finally succumbs to a fatal bullet in episode 6 “Ggangbu” when Sang-woo takes advantage of his confident goodwill during their final game of marbles by goading him into handing over his remaining marbles.
Ali is the embodiment of director Hwang’s vision for the show as a confronting allegory of failures within egalitarian capitalist society, where immigrants are often exploited and victimized. Tripathi didn’t lose sight of Ali’s importance in bringing that vision to life on the show. “I’ve always felt like no history is complete without immigrants,” he shares. “No story is complete without us, whether on camera or behind the camera, because we are equally needed, we share the same space,” he explains, adding that he felt a real connection with the fate of Ali in some ways because of his own past. “I had this will in me that allowed me to continue in Korea and a lot of people asked me ‘why don’t you go to Bollywood or Hollywood, why Korea?’ but I continued, because I appreciated this different language, this different culture and I was able to play and deliver as a storyteller or as a character, whether on stage or in front of the camera.
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