Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

Who was the 'recap rapper' at the Oscars? Utkarsh Ambudkar is one to watch

The actor and improv rapper has appeared in 'Pitch Perfect', and will soon be a voice actor in 'Mulan'. His rap was one of the highlights of 2020's Oscars

Utkarsh Ambudkar performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. EPA
Utkarsh Ambudkar performs during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. EPA

Let's be honest, plenty of the 'in between' moments at the Academy Awards can be cringe. One absolute highlight this year, however, was when Indian-American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar took to the stage (just after Eminem's performance).

His rap, which recapped the awards given out so far, was full of great references.

"Been a long time trying to be colour blind, what you seeing right in front of you is a sign of the times," Ambudkar said, pointing to himself as part of the 'recap rap'.

"Mindy here, repping for South Asians," he said, adding that he'd "heard an amazing singer, nobody colder. Her name is Idina Menzel, Mr Travolta".

Ambudkar also gave a shout out to his fellow musical minds: "lights up on Anthony and my man Lin. Next year, In The Heights is guaranteed to win."

He gave a nod to Brad Pitt, too, who laughed along at the reference: "congrats on winning your first trophy, now please take a seat for World War Z". (Although, fact check, it's actually Pitt's second Oscar. His first as an actor, but he has won a statue as a producer.)

He ended his rap with, "keep an open mind, I'm sure we'll find that there's plenty of light here for us all to shine."

So who is Utkarsh Ambudkar?

While the 92nd Academy Awards was definitely his most high-profile moment to date, Ambudkar is far from new to the business.

The Baltimore native began his career in the arts as a VJ on MTV Desi, and made his big break as Donald in Pitch Perfect.

He has also appeared in The Mindy Project and The Muppets and he played Jern in Brittany Runs a Marathon.

And, rapping isn't new to him, either: since 2005, he's been part of hip-hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme, of which Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is also a member.

While he has never appeared in the main stage show of smash-hit musical Hamilton, Ambudkar did appear in the 2013 production mixtape of the show as Aaron Burr.

His next big role is as a voice actor in Mulan, in which he will play con artist Skatch. He will also play a part in 2020 film Marry Me, starring Jennifer Lopez as a pop superstar jilted at the altar; and in indie film The Broken Heart Gallery.

And here he is on the red carpet with his wife Naomi Campbell:

Utkarsh Ambudkar, left, and Naomi Campbell arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Utkarsh Ambudkar, left, and Naomi Campbell. AP

Updated: February 10, 2020 06:13 PM

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