(New York, NY – February 3, 2017) Due to an overwhelming response to advance ticket sales during opening weekend (February 3rd), the heartfelt family comedy Growing Up Smith, directed by Frank Lotito, and starring Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) and Anjul Nigam (Bad Words and True Detective), has been slated to release in several additional markets on February 10th, including Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston and Detroit.
With major rave reviews, the film has reached new heights. The New York Times Review stated, “The film has accidental topicality now with the debate over immigration swirling, but you don’t need to burden it with politics to be touched by its tale of a child who is pulled by two very different cultural worlds.”
Fort Worth Star Telegram calls the film “charmingly amusing and surprisingly timely…like an extended episode of ‘The Wonder Years.'” Josh Hurtado, ScreenAnarchy wrote, “Growing Up Smith is a solid watch for kids of a certain age, or really anyone who has ever been a little bit different from those around them.”
Directed by Frank Lotito, the film is produced by Anjul Nigam, Frank Lotito, Steve Straka, and the story was written by Anjul Nigam, Paul Quinn, Gregory Scott Houghton. In 1979, a family from India moves to America with hopes of living the American Dream. While their 10-year-old boy Smith falls head-over-heels for the girl next door, his desire to become a “good old boy” propels him further away from his family’s ideals than ever before. A tribute to childhood heroes, first love and growing up in Small Town, America… in simpler times.
The film has the following stars performing. Jason Lee (“My Name Is Earl”), Anjul Nigam (“Bad Words”), Brighton Sharbino (“The Walking Dead”), Hilarie Burton (“One Tree Hill”), Jake Busey (“From Dusk Till Dawn”), Tim Guinee (“Iron Man 1 and 2”), Alison Wright (“The Americans”), Poorna Jagannathan (“Delhi Belly”), Samrat Chakrabarti (“Waiting City”) and introducing Roni Akurati as “Smith”
Distributed by Good Deed Entertainment and inspired by a true story set in the year 1979, Growing Up Smith is about a family from India that moves to America with hopes of living the American Dream. While their 10-year-old boy, Smith, falls head-over-heels for the girl next door, his desire to become a “good old boy” propels him further away from his family’s ideas than ever before.
Whether he is impersonating John Travolta from “Saturday Night Fever” or cleverly dodging bullies, or secretly crushing on his neighbor, 14-year-old Roni Akurati, who makes his feature film debut with “Growing Up Smith,” totally gives the grown-up actors a run for their money with his acting skills and charm.
After a 25-festival run winning accolades and awards along the way, Indian American actor/filmmaker Anjul Nigam’s personal and poignant tale of a 10-year-old boy struggling to find his place in the United States in 1979 in a small town of America, “Growing Up Smith,” is finally making its way to the theaters.
So mark your calendar as there is more than one reason to watch “Growing Up Smith,” a story filled with heart and emotion. Replete with humor, top-notch acting by an incredible cast comprising of Jason Lee, Brighton Sharbino, Poorna Jagannathan, Samrat Chakrabarti, and Akurati, and a relatable storyline, the film, which opens in theaters Feb. 3, is sure to keep you engaged.
Akurati plays the title role of Smith, the 10-year-old son of India-born-and-raised parents Bhaaskar Bhatnagar (Nigam) and Nalini Bhatnagar (Jagannathan) in this clash-of-the-cultures comedy.
As a child who immigrates to the U.S. with his family, and navigates his new life in America, as his family, especially his father, tries to straddle the line between embracing the American Dream – starting with his American-sounding name – and preserving their Indian heritage, Akurati is a sheer delight to watch.
This little resident of Lake Zurich, Illinois, was in India when the auditions were happening for the role. Nigam had previously told India-West that the director and the producers had to make do with Skype calls. After several times of auditioning through Skype, he came to Los Angeles for a screen test with Brighton Sharbino, who plays Amy, his neighbor’s daughter.
Working on the film was a “great experience,” Akurati said in a statement. “I had lots of fun, and I also learned a lot about how films are made,” he said.
Akurati, truly a natural talent, has starred in shows like Comedy Central’s “Another Period” and Nickelodeon’s fantasy horror series, “Deadtime Stories.” Akurati, who was 11 during the shoot, brought in his expertise that came from performing at theaters like Goodman Theater in Chicago, Illinois, and Huntington Theater in Boston, Massachusetts. “The Jungle Book” and “A Christmas Carol” are just some of the productions that he has been associated with.
The young Indian American actor also added that any acting project would be fine by him, but comedies interest him the most. “In light of the recent immigration concerns in our country, this film highlights a positive immigrant experience in the late 70s and reminds us that love does not see race or creed,” said Scott Donley, CEO & Founder of Good Deed Entertainment.
Actor/Writer/Producer Nigam says that “the movie is a tribute to childhood heroes, first love and growing up in Small Town, America. We’re proud to say that it’s a film with no explosions, no profanity and no violence,” which is the unspoken mantra at Nigam’s production company, Brittany House Pictures.