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Exclusive: Venk Potula Talks Tribeca World Premiere of Four Samosas

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Venk Potula is entering a new era with his latest film Four Samosas and making waves as he does so. The multi-hyphenate, Los Angeles-based creative — Potula is an actor, producer, writer, and director — has been around the block, making appearances in TV shows like the hit HBO series Veep, The Comedy Get Down, and Nick Cannon’s long-running TV series Wild ‘N Out. (He was, in fact, discovered by Cannon, dancing in the streets of Hollywood.) At the same time, under the banner of his production company Khrisp Entertainment, Potula has been steadily creating, as the website puts it, “diverse content for diverse audiences.” From ideation to execution and then exhibition to distribution, Potula’s work at Khrisp has yielded a collection of award-winning short films that have played at dozens of festivals around the world.

Making its world premiere at Tribeca 2022, Four Samosas marks Potula’s feature-length debut as an actor and producer. Written and directed by Ravi Kapoor (Miss India America), the film tells the story of creatively blocked and wannabe rapper Vinny (Potula), who devises a plan with his friends to steal his soon-to-be-married ex-girlfriend’s family diamonds from her father’s supermarket safe in order to stop the wedding. “It was so funny when I [first] read it, and charming,” Potula says of the film’s script in our interview ahead of the festival. “Even more importantly, there was a character named ‘Venk’ written in the script. [Ravi] hadn’t asked me to do the part yet — I think he was just writing in names of people he knew — so when he told me to be a part of it, I was honored.”

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Indeed, more than just a director and collaborator, Kapoor has, for Potula, been a friend and mentor. “I had just finished school at UCLA, and I was really inspired by Ravi because he’s just one of those great actors that represented Asian-America culture in the roles and stuff he’s done in TV and film. I got connected to him, luckily, and we stayed in touch [throughout the years]. I would send projects that I was working on to him. Eventually, he sent me the script for [Four Samosas].”

Four Samosas hilariously begins with its core cast — Potula, Sonal Shah, Sharmita Bhattacharya, and Nirvan Patnaik — storming out of the supermarket, having just completed their diamonds heist. Then, the film cuts to back to the days leading up to the big scheme, and it’s here that we first meet Vinny, working at a fashion retail store. Immediately, there’s a charm and energy to him that’s irresistible, particularly in the moment that he tries out a new rap, with tepid success, for his co-worker. As the film unfolds, we learn that there are past experiences that still weigh on Vinny. So, as much as Four Samosas is a comedic take on the good ol’ fashioned American heist movie, it’s a story about coming into your own, one that Potula personally connects to.

“Vinny is a guy who feels like it’s just not working out for him in the beginning,” Potula says. “I connected to that in my own journey of struggling. Being a person of color in Hollywood and living in L.A. and trying to find work, it can sometimes be a challenging experience due to things that aren’t completely within your control. I really resonated with the guy who’s not going to stop, even if his methods might not be conventional.”

While Vinny’s unconventional methods to achieve his goal in Four Samosas manifest in a heist involving prototypical tools of reconnaissance work and full-body disguises, there’s a bit of real-life parallel to the point Potula is making. For many independent and underrepresented creatives in the film industry, particularly racialized artists, it often requires working and thinking outside the Hollywood box to get their stories told. “The thing I love about independent cinema, and festivals like Tribeca that celebrate independent filmmakers, is that, if you have something, you can go out and do it yourself. No one’s really stopping you at the end of the day. If you have a voice, and you have a story you want to tell — I always say movement creates movement.”

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