×

Hyde Park Entertainment’s Ashok Amritraj on His New Role as India Goodwill Ambassador

Ashok Amritraj has already had two stellar careers: He was a tennis professional who played Grand Slam doubles with his brother Vijay and, after moving to L.A. from India in his early 20s, he set up Hyde Park Entertainment, a successful and prolific indie studio since 1999.

Now, the dapper 60-year-old has been recognized for his least-known role: as a committed agent of change in his native country. At a ceremony Jan. 27 in New Delhi, the United Nations appointed Amritraj as U.N. in India Goodwill Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals. He was honored for his work across 17 development programs, including poverty and hunger alleviation, improvements in water and sanitation, and promoting gender equality. U.N. officials praised him as “a powerful advocate” for development and “a pioneering force in bridging India and Hollywood through film and media.”

“India’s traditions and cultures are with me all the time,” Amritraj tells Variety. “They shaped my tennis, my film decisions, and how I brought up my children. In somewhat Kipling fashion, we learned to play to win, but to treat triumph and disaster equally. Win or lose, we’d always say ‘Great match.’”

Among his contributions is his reality TV show “Chance of a Lifetime,” which brought together young people from India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates to make short films on themes such as AIDS, migration, and universal education. The show — produced by Hyde Park, the U.N., ImageNation Abu Dhabi, and Variety — aired on Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan. The winning short played at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Other Hyde Park initiatives revolve around internet and cellular connectivity, including partnerships with the Indian government, the U.N., and creators of content for smartphones and digital media.

Additionally, Hyde Park has more than a dozen commercial projects in development, including the horror-thriller “Prey,” produced with Jason Blum.

Amritraj predicts that India’s global influence will grow in the next five to 10 years. “No question, it is definitely India’s decade,” he says. “Today’s girls and boys are smart and ambitious and come from a generation that thinks globally. Global Indians, be they in London, L.A., or Silicon Valley, are very supportive.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

  • America Ferrera Eva Longoria

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and More Sign Letter to Latinx Community: 'We Will Not Be Broken'

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and more have signed a letter published in several media outlets on Friday standing in solidarity with the Latinx community. In response to the heightened tension surrounding President Trump’s immigration agenda, the El Paso shooting that targeted Latinx people and the ICE raids in Mississippi, the letter addresses the language used [...]

  • Research Firm Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox

    Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox, an Entertainment Marketing and Ticketing Startup

    Screen Engine/ASI, a market research firm that specializes in focus-group testing of movies and TV pilots, has acquired ticktBox, which operates a digital marketing and ticketing platform used by movie distributors, exhibitors, and TV networks. Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 9, weren’t disclosed. With ticktBox, SE/ASI will have one of the largest databases of [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Eric Reid, Jemele Hill – and Colin Kaepernick? - Take Jay-Z to Task Over NFL Partnership

    When news of the presumably lucrative entertainment and social-justice deal between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL leaked on Tuesday, initially there was a surprising lack of public reaction or outcry. But after a press conference where Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the deal at Roc Nation’s New York offices yesterday — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content