Foothill grad hopes to make it big with TV pilot

'Keeping Up with the Guptas' premieres in Beverly Hills tonight

Armed with an idea, a video camera and a little help from his family, a recent Foothill High School grad is ready to make his mark in Hollywood.

Sunny Tripathy didn't exactly expect his YouTube video to go viral, much less become a pilot for a TV show. He said the whole thing began on a trip home from UCLA for winter break when he got the idea to make a video about his family.

"I have a very funny and comical family. I was thinking it would be kind of funny, some of the things that went on back home," he explained. "When I got home, I told my family about the idea. At first they were hesitant, because they're a very traditional family. My dad's an engineer, my mom's a teacher … regardless, I was able to persuade them."

Tripathy, who's majoring in economics with a minor in film, posted his short video about his family on the Internet, without expecting much to come of it.

"We filmed it and we put it on YouTube and just shared it with friends and family," he said. "We just thought it would be some kind of an in joke." Before too long, though, that video, "Keeping Up with the Guptas," had been viewed 30,000 times. There was fan mail and even websites with responses.

"It took us by surprise. There were celebrity tweets about it, it was in the newspaper," Tripathy said. "I had a friend at NBC … she saw it and said, 'You guys have some potential there. It's actually a serious show that could go somewhere.'"

He enlisted the aid of a fellow Foothill grad, Sahil Punamia, who's the show's assistant writer and director. Together, they rewrote the script, adding drama and conflict, and ended up with a 38-page screenplay.

"We had hundreds of people auditioning for roles," Tripathy said. The crew was college students from across the country, everywhere from Berklee College of Music in Boston to UC Berkeley, with students from UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley and Los Angeles Film School all getting involved.

"It became one of the biggest, if not the biggest, student collaborations ever," Tripathy said.

He plays a character with the same name, and Sumi Raman, another Foothill graduate, plays his sister.

Then came the filming. Typically, he said, it takes six weeks and a half-million dollars to put together a pilot. Tripathy and Punamia put theirs together in 72 hours, at a cost of about $1,000.

Tonight, Tripathy, Punamia and Raman along with their colleagues, including Foothill alumni Matt Clark and Danial Asif, who helped with the marketing, will find out if the idea is a hit.

"Usually a TV pilot is pitched quietly to the networks, but because we had so much publicity, we're just going to go big," Tripathy said.

The red carpet premiere of "Keeping Up with the Guptas" will take place at the Tanzore Lounge in Beverly Hills. Tripathy said directors, hip hop artists and "all sorts of cool talent will coming" to support the show.

"There'll be live performances … It's kind of an all-out event," Tripathy said.

Tripathy said he'll be double-dipping, looking to raise money for the World Hunger Project as well as promoting his TV show. But executives from Fox and NBC will be there, and Tripathy is optimistic about his chances.

"The eventual goal is -- it would be great if it gets picked up," Tripathy said. "If not, we've got incredible experience for the projects we're working on. We're not even worried. We had a great time doing it."

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Like this comment
Posted by Pleasantonian
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

Best of luck to this young talented man... Make Ptown proud

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmmm ...
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Sep 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

The clips on the website have a lot of offensive scenes. I seriously wonder if it will make it to the big screen. Hope the young man can strike a balance and not make the North Indian family seem so crude and tasteless!!

Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Sep 23, 2010 at 11:36 am

Can't wait to see it! Congrats!

Like this comment
Posted by Devon
a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Sep 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Nice work! Best of luck! I can't wait to see what happens now that the Indian mom found out that the "white" bf impregnated her daughter. OUCH!

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton resident....
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm

All the best!

Like this comment
Posted by Katie
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Sep 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Wow! Congrats to him! That is wonderful! I shall tune in :) Best of luck to him.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm

It's a start.

There are some good one-liners, but try to stay clear of the cheap stereotype gags. They get old very quickly and you lose your ratings.

Good luck

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