'Tiger' stars Michael and Prem 'stalked' Mickey Rourke in order to get his attention

'Tiger' tells the story of Pardeep Singh Nagra, the Ontario flyweight amateur boxing champion who was refused a spot in the nationals in 1999 because of his beard

'Tiger' stars Michael and Prem 'stalked' Mickey Rourke in order to get his attention

‘Tiger,’ the freshman movie of Canadian screenwriters and stars Michael Pugliese and Prem Singh, will see its premiere on November 2, and it is going to be one of the most poignant movies you see this year. From racism to human rights, this coming-of-age film addresses many issues of our times in the context of one man's fight to respect his religion.  

While the movie sounds amazing on paper, understandably for these newcomers, it was next to impossible to find someone who was willing to look at that paper. Having spent nearly a decade working and re-working the script, Pugliese and Singh were obviously not okay with letting something as minor as that get in the way of realizing their big dream.  

'Tiger' is the story of Pardeep Singh Nagra, the Ontario flyweight amateur boxing champion, who was refused a spot in the nationals in 1999 because the committee claimed his beard was a health hazard. It is his passion that drives the story and it makes sense that the man who Singh and Pugliese turned to kickstart the project is actor and retired boxer Mickey Rourke.

Prem Singh as Pardeep Nagra in 'Tiger'
Prem Singh as Pardeep Nagra in 'Tiger'

"I wouldn't say we stalked but we kind of did. We figured out where he worked out and we went down to the gym and we were hoping to get in touch with him. We got the people at the gym to pitch the project to Mickey and the rest is history,” says Pugliese, who vows that instigating a trend of stalking Hollywood stars is not his agenda. 

Stalkers or not, Rourke ended up loving their script and took on the role of Frank Donovan, Pardeep's coach and motivator in the film. Pugliese and Singh are not oblivious to the fact that they are lucky to share a screen with Rourke and that they were able to “go toe-to-toe and hold our own with a professional like him.”

Then again, the screen-writing duo is also thankful for everyone associated with the film, including Janelle Parrish, who plays Charlotte, the lawyer who takes up Pardeep's case in ‘Tiger’, and Alister Grierson, who helmed the project by donning the hat of the director. 

“It was great to work with Mickey but working with all of the cast was really the highlighting point in doing ‘Tiger,’” says Singh speaking specifically of the “extremely gifted and talented” Parrish, “who is just fantastic inside and out.” He says, “It is really fantastic to see someone as gifted as her being able to choose such different roles — like the ones she had on ‘Pretty Little Liars’, 'To All The Boys I Have Loved Before’, ‘Tiger’. The three are all different characters and it was great having her in the film." 

The actors are also thankful for Marshall Manesh, who plays the role of Pardeep's primary caretaker and uncle. He is possibly best known for his role in 'How I Met Your Mother' as the affable Bangladeshi taxi driver Ranjit. “All these people that came together to make this thing happen, that was really important and really special. We learned from not just Mickey but everybody else that was on set,” says Singh.