Mean Girls’ Rajiv Surendra (Aka Kevin G.) Isn’t Actually A Mathlete

Photo Courtesy of Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Twitter.

Almost twelve years ago Kevin Gnapoor (better known as Kevin G.) was introduced to the world as the cocky mathlete with major M.C. skills and unpredictable one-liners from North Shore High. Last week, we finally got to met Rajiv Surendra: the actor, the artist, the entrepreneur, the writer. A lot of people don’t know his story, so now he tells it himself.

Surendra definitely hasn’t taken the straightest path in life, but he says it is the one most preferred. During his return to high school where he spit some rhymes and made his classmates (specifically Janis Ian) feel uncomfortable in Mean Girls, Surendra fell in love with another character that was sure to change his life and career. While on set he discovered the book, Life of Pi, and made it his mission to audition for the main character after learning it would be made into a film. The signs were all there: Pi was from the southern region of India, the same place where Surendra’s parents hail from; Pi’s family owned a Zoo, Surendra lived right behind a zoo; Pi moves to Canada, Surendra grew up there. Although they were so similar, it wasn’t enough for Surendra to just resemble Pi, he needed to become him.

So Surendra dropped out of school (where he was majoring in art history) to fully commit to the role. Originally he had six months to audition for the role, but after production delays and director changes, six months turned into seven years. For seven years Surendra immersed himself in Pi’s life. He journeyed to India and spent time in an all boys school called Petit Seminaire in Puducherry, and learnt to swim, and stalked (in a non-creepy way) a castaway survivor named Steven Callahan so he could better understand how one survives such a traumatic situation. To fund his research and adventures Surendra took many odd jobs like beekeeping and working at Black Creek Pioneer Village (Toronto’s version of Williamsburg) where he was a blacksmith on some days and a baker on others. Pouring himself into Pi took seven years….

The part was given to Suraj Sharma, a teenager from India who had never acted before.

After finding out his dream of taking on the oscar worthy role would not happen for him, Surendra was devastated. It was almost like some small part of him had died. He needed to get away, from everything. So he moved to Germany to become an au pair for two little british boys living in Munich. While taking care of the kids and discovering Munich, Surendra didn’t have time to drown under the weight of his disappointment.

He later came to realize that not getting his dream acting job was one of the best things that ever happen to him. Through becoming Pi Surendra got to go on incredible adventures and meet so many intriguing people, and it turns out that on his way to becoming someone else, he actually became himself.

“I used to project and think this is where I want to be in this many years, and I kind of learned the hard way that despite your best efforts, you never know where you’re going to end up,” said Surendra.

Now he lives in New York, running his calligraphy business called “Letters In Ink,” which specializes in crafting chalk signs for restaurants and businesses. Being so many things may seem unrealistic or intimidating to some people, but if there’s anything Surendra has learned from his unconventional path, it’s that you should do what interests you and makes you happy.  

“My journey taught me that it’s kind of often more beneficial to think about right now. If something inspires you, listen to that voice in your head. And If you don’t like what you’re doing, change it,” said Surendra.  

But most importantly, “Don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thang.”

Rajiv Surendra’s book is set to be released in January 2017, so be on the lookout!