Indians, South Asians, and American Indians have often, in the past been used as props in western cinema and television. They were reduced to caricatures and depicted in a very stereotypical fashion. A case in point is, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from The Simpsons. Apu’s accent has served as the model of the West’s idea of India and the Indian accent. Also Ranjit Singh, in How I Met Your Mother, is a Bangladeshi who is a cab driver! The characters were usually ill-researched and badly drawn. Ranjit Singh from Bangladesh?? Really??
However, with more and more Indians seizing Hollywood opportunities, this idea has somewhat changed. Irrfan Khan has played relevant roles in Hollywood movies like Jurassic Park, The Amazing Spider-Man, Life of Pi as well as his upcoming movie Inferno. Through this article, we intend to list down some of the Indian stars who have made it big in the television shows of west.
Nimrat Kaur: When lonely and neglected Ila was lovingly packing the dabba for her Fernandez, little was she aware, she was helping Nimrat Kaur Lunchbox her way to Hollywood. The face of various brilliant ad films like Titan Raga, etc, Nimrat Kaur plays Tasneem Qureshi, the iniquitous Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence officer in season four of the well-known American television series, Homeland (merchandise). Scheming against Carrie Mathison, CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, forcing Dennis Boyd to work for her, helping with the abduction of Saul, Kaur’s Tasneem Qureshi is a deceitful spy who knows her craft a little too well.
In 2016, Nimrat was seen in the second season of a psychological thriller, Wayward Pines, where she plays the role of Rebecca Yedlin, an architect.
- In the year 2002, Nimrat ‘dynamic’ Kaur had featured in one of Kumar Sanu’s music album called – Tera Mera Pyaar and also in one of Shreya Ghosal’s music video called ‘Yeh Kya Hua’.
- The 2006 film One Night with the King by Michael O. Sajbel, happens to be Kaur’s Hollywood debut movie. Homeland was her fist American television series. Nimrat’s first Hindi film debut was the 2012 crime thriller Peddlers, which was also filmed at the Cannes film festival.
Priyanka Chopra: Our “desi girl” has taken the “videsi” route and conquered Hollywood. Priyanka as Alex Parrish is the central figure of hit thriller, Quantico. A talented FBI agent in making, Alex finds herself, to be the key suspect in a terrorist attack.
With unflinching determination to trace her framers; before she is arrested by FBI, Alex takes every possible step to conceal her whereabouts. Unlike most shows, Chopra has not been portrayed as a stereotypical timid and shy woman of Indian descent. On the contrary, she is fierce and brave. Adept and impressive acting mixed with her magical panache, Priyanka Chopra, as Alex Parrish, hits all the right chords. With season two of Quantico slated to premiere on September 26th, 2016, we have something to look forward to.
- A Tamil movie called “Thamizhanin“ became the passport to the world of fame for the former Miss India.
- Priyanka has won the Indian National Film Award, for Best Actress, for her work in Bollywood movie Fashion.
Indira Ann Verma: Doing justice to the role of Ellaria Sand in Game of Thrones (T-Shirts), is Indira Verma, an actress of Indian descent. Indira has previously starred in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love in 1997 and Bride and Prejudice in 2004.
Ellaria is a crucial character in seasons five, six, and seven of Game of Thrones. Although interested in both men and women Ellaria is the consort of Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne. Post Oberyn’s death, Ellaria plans a coup and kills Myrcella Baratheon, Doran Martell, and his son Trystane Martell. She then goes on to appropriate power in Dorne and promises allegiance to Daenerys Targaryen. Seasoned acting characterised by vigour, is what makes Indira’s Ellaria, stand out.
- In the year 1997, Indira has essayed the role of Bianca in a production of Shakespeare’s Othello at London’s National Theatre.
- A graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Indira was also a member of the Musical Youth Theatre Company.
Kunal Nayyar: British Indian actor Kunal Nayyar’s Dr. Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali or simply Raj of The Big Bang Theory (T-Shirts) needs very little introduction. An astrophysicist, Raj hails from an affluent Delhi family.
Although he is Howard’s best friend, it is needless to mention that he also shares a deep bond of friendship with Leonard and Sheldon. Affected by selective mutism until season 6, Raj’s ability to talk to women only under the effect of alcohol or medication is one of the sources of show’s humour. Nayyar’s soulful acting, his perfect comedy timing and most importantly, the humble look, makes him one of the best television stars of the generation.
- Much like Koothrappali, Kunal too is crazy about video games.
- If Rajesh is a Ph.D., Kunal too owns a business degree from the University of Portland and a Masters of Fine Arts from Temple University in Philadelphia.
Archie Panjabi: Born to Sindhi Hindu parents settled in London, Archana’s first major Hollywood role was as British Diplomat in the 2005 Oscar winning movie The Constant Gardener. Post that she has starred in movies like ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and shared screen space with Angelina Jolie in the film, A Mighty Heart.
In 2009, Archana, better known as Archie, was cast in the television series The Good Wife as Kalinda Sharma, an investigator, at Stern, Lockhart, and Gardner. Although remarkably skilled, Kalinda does not always adhere to norms which can exactly be called legal. Phenomenally stylish, phlegmatic by disposition, Kalinda is above all, a dark horse. Archana’s proficient rendition of Kalinda, in the first six seasons of the show, has helped her bag a Primetime Emmy Award in 2010 and one Golden Globe nomination.
- Panjabi is trained in ballet.
- Panjabi was appointed the Pratham USA Ambassador representing the largest educational movement in India.
The times are changing 🙂