Taj rises up for students

Still waiting to get high with Harold and Kumar again? Well, you’re going to have to wait a little longer. But this Friday, Kumar, a.k.a. Kal Penn, returns to his roots as Taj Mahal Badalandabad in “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.”

Taj enters Camford University hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps as a ladies’ man and member of the Fox and Hounds fraternity. But when Fox and Hounds rejects him, Taj finds himself amidst a group of misfits in the only dorm available. Using what he learned as the personal assistant to the legendary Van Wilder, Taj starts his own exclusive club – the Cock and Bulls.

“The Rise of Taj” is another segment in the history of National Lampoon. National Lampoon was originally a magazine written by Harvard alumni, but its popularity in the 1970s spawned more than 30 movies including the classic “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Penn is following in the footsteps of comedians such as Chevy Chase and John Belushi.

In an interview, Kal Penn said that “The Rise of Taj” is especially exciting because Van Wilder was his “first real job.” This movie transforms what was originally just a supporting role into a main character and an entirely new story.

Penn insists that he is nothing like Taj, but that he can relate to the general themes of the movie. “You make these incredible relationships and have so many wonderful experiences,” he said.

Unfortunately, he made it clear that his alma matter, UCLA, has recently let him down. Penn said he was strongly affected by an incident earlier this month where UCLA police Tasered a student in the library for refusing to show his identification. Penn said he believes “using the media as a platform is a responsibility” for anyone who has the ability to do so. Penn is currently trying to raise awareness about recent violence against students perpetrated by university officials. “It can happen anywhere,” he says. “Too many law enforcement are taking a very dangerous stance after 9/11,” Penn warns.

Kal Penn certainly has a serious side, but this Friday you aren’t going to see it. Don’t worry if you didn’t catch the first “Van Wilder” (who did?). Just one more thing – though a sequel to “White Castle” is in the making, Harold and Kumar aren’t going to Amsterdam. Sorry.

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