‘Squid Game’ player No. 199 Anupam Tripathi talks about role, pursuing career in Korea

Published September 27, 2021, 8:18 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

The hit survival series “Squid Game” is now the No. 1 show on Netflix in the US and 65 other countries and territories, according to streaming analytics website FlixPatrol.

“Squid Game,” led by Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo, tells the story of 456 players who agree to play deadly games for a total prize money of 45.6 billion won ($38.6 million).

Anupam Tripathi in “Squid Game” (Instagram, Netflix Korea)

One of the stars of “Squid Game” is Anupam Tripathi, who plays the role of Pakistani foreign worker in Korea Abdul Ali. In the series, Ali joins the competition to help his wife and baby when his Korean employer refuses to pay his delayed salary.

Tripathi is 34-year-old Indian theater, TV and film actor who has appeared in many Korean dramas and movies including “Hospital Playlist” season one, “Taxi Driver,” “Arthdal Chronicles,” “Descendants of the Sun,” “Space Sweepers,” “The 8th Night” and “Ode to My Father.”

He was born in New Delhi and started dreaming of becoming an actor in 2006 while learning acting and singing.

As he wanted to expand, a friend recommended to him to apply for the Korea National University of Arts scholarship program and went to Korea in 2010.

“I spent 10 years in Korea as a student and a theater actor with the thought of persevering every day,” he said, according to Yonhap News.

He said he told his parents that he was preparing for the exam and going to Korea but his family was against it. He passed the exam.

“My father, who came from a middle-class family in India, said that I should study and get a job and earn money,” he added.

After coming to Korea in 2010 and entering the university the following year, he faced difficulties including language, food and cultural differences.

But with his determination, he endured it and comforted himself with the thought that “life does not go as planned.”

As he got used to living in Korea, he started to make his face known little by little. His first film project was the 2014 movie “Ode to My Father.”

Many of his roles in dramas and movies were migrant workers including in “Squid Game.”

“I am grateful that I feel that I can stand on stage because of these people. I think it is an opportunity to show the dark and sad aspects of Korean society to many people,” he said.

After bagging the role in “Squid Game,” he searched for articles and documentaries, and met migrant workers in Korea.

“In the drama, I accepted that Ali was a person who worked hard to live well with his family despite all kinds of adversity. I saw to it that he endured the fierce survival game as well. I worry about ‘how can I survive in Korea or what if I don’t have a job’ every day in Korea. I never let go. Of course, I never lost a smile just like Ali,” he added.

He said when “Squid Game” was released and competed for the top rankings in India, the people who were most happy were his family.

“My mother and brothers are both proud of me. I was convinced that what I was doing was a good thing. However, my father, who passed away in 2017, would have liked it if he had seen it, but it’s too bad,” he said.

Tripathi is currently finishing his master’s degree in acting and the only thing left is his thesis, and said, “Still, I am the happiest today in my 11 years of living in Korea.”

“Someday, I want to appear in an authentic historical drama for the first time as a foreign actor. I will break the limit of being a foreigner and show various charms,” he said.

 
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