Indian American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar has joined the second season of Mindy Kaling’s “Never Have I Ever” in a recurring role. Deadline reports that Ambudkar will play Mr. Kulkarni, “the coolest teacher on staff at Sherman Oaks High,” who teaches English and is buddies with Devi, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan.
Starring alongside Ramakrishnan in the coming-of-age comedy series created by Kaling and Lang Fisher are Poorna Jagannathan, Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet, Lee Rodriguez and Ramona Young.
This is the second time Ambudkar will be working with Kaling. The two previously worked on “The Mindy Project,” where he recurred as Rishi.
Ambudkar was recently roped in as the male lead opposite Rose McIver in CBS’ single-camera comedy pilot “Ghosts.” His feature credits include “The Broken Hearts Gallery” opposite Australian actress Geraldine Viswanathan; “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme,” and Disney’s live-action “Mulan,”where he plays the con-artist Skatch. He will also play a part in the 2021 film “Marry Me,” starring Jennifer Lopez as a pop superstar jilted at the altar.
At the Academy Awards last year, Ambudkar, also a rapper, gave a nod to his roots, as he joined Questlove for a performance recapping the show. And according to reactions on social media and news reports then, Ambudkar impressed many with his “half-time report,” although several weren’t aware of his body of work.Last year, Ambudkar released two albums, “Vanity and Petty,” as well as “EP Members Only” under the rap moniker UTK the INC.
He is also a member of Freestyle Love Supreme, an improv-rap troupe started by Lin-Manuel Miranda with Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale. He also played Aaron Burr in some early readings of “Hamilton,” but never made it to the stage with the show. He was originally supposed to play Aaron Burr the Broadway show, but the part was given to Leslie Odom Jr.
According to a October 2019 profile in The New York Times, the reason Ambudkar lost out on “Hamilton” is his alcohol addiction, “which made him too erratic and unreliable for the quickly moving train that turned into the biggest Broadway breakout of this decade, cementing rap’s place on theater’s most prestigious stage.” A few years later, Ambudkar eventually did make it to Broadway, in a limited-run stage show with “Freestyle Love Supreme.”