When acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) was searching for someone to portray Indian scholar and social reformer Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in her latest movie, Origin, she wanted someone who could do justice to the role. She wanted someone who could inhabit the part, someone equipped with an arsenal of knowledge about the late anti-caste icon and someone who followed the larger-than-life figure as a disciple.
That someone turned out to be Dr. Gaurav J. Pathania, assistant professor of sociology and peacebuilding at EMU, an anti-caste activist and lifelong Ambedkarite. Pathania, who worked to help Seattle become the first U.S. city to ban caste-based discrimination last year, makes his acting debut when Origin releases in theaters on Jan. 19.