Priyanka to Irrfan: Why Hollywood is queuing up for Bollywood actors

  • Prashant Singh, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Jun 18, 2015 03:06 IST

Jurassic Park doesn’t belong to America; it belongs to the whole world. And I tried to populate it with as many other actors from around the globe, as I could," said Colin Trevorrow, the director of Jurassic World, to film critic Rajeev Masand, about casting Irrfan Khan in his latest blockbuster. Jurassic World has broken all records to earn $511 million at international box office.

Not just Trevorrow, but a number of other big-ticket Hollywood films have also seen Indian actors starring in them. If Anil Kapoor featured in Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (2011), Ali Fazal did a cameo in Furious 7. Also, Irrfan was seen in the 2012 hit, The Amazing Spider-Man. In the coming days, Nargis Fakhri will be starring in Paul Feig’s Spy, Irrfan is acting opposite Tom Hanks in Inferno and Nawazuddin Siddiqui will be spotted in Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara-starrer, Lion. Priyanka Chopra's ABC soap Quantico is also awaited.

If all goes right, Irrfan may also star in TV series True Detective.

An image from Priyanka's upcoming American TV show, Quantico.

"It’s high time we (Indian actors) did it. We have some of the most brilliant actors, and it (working in Hollywood projects) makes for an interesting, exciting collaboration," says director Sabbir Khan, who directed Hollywood biggies like Sylvester Stallone, Brandon Routh and Denise Richards in Kambakkht Ishq (2009).

Global exposure

Irrfan, too, is happy with Indian actors going global, and getting international exposure. "The doors are opening, not just for actors, but also for technicians. The collaboration is growing. I feel that now, we will see a lot of people [from the Indian film industry] working abroad. Hollywood is keeping an eye on India to get new stories and talent," he says.

In the past, too, Indian actors such as Amrish Puri (in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom; 1984), Kabir Bedi (in Octopussy; 1983), Naseeruddin Shah (in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; 2003), and Om Puri (in City of Joy; 1992; and Charlie Wilson’s War; 2007) have intermittently appeared in Hollywood films. Now, the influx has become stronger than before.

All about creativity

"When Indian actors are cast, the makers’ idea is to appeal to viewers across Asia, and not just people in India. If a film features actors of Asian origin, it tends to become more universal," says trade expert Amod Mehra. Sabbir adds, "Everything is moving towards one world vision, and in time, maybe, we won’t be confined to region-specific cinema."

But has the trend picked up because India is increasingly contributing to the Hollywood films’ coffers? "No," says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, adding, "It’s a creative call because India accounts for just about 3-5% of a Hollywood films’ global earnings. And, if casting an Indian actor was the success mantra for a Hollywood film in India, then The Great Gatsby (2013) would have done great business here, since it starred Amitabh Bachchan."

In great demand?

Priyanka Chopra has been juggling her Indian and international projects for a while now. The actor, who is starring in Quantico, has apparently been approached by a US-based travel agency that wants to get her on board as their brand ambassador. "The owners of the travel firm had spoken to Priyanka about the offer during her recent visit to the USA. They want her to be the company’s brand ambassador, and have offered her Rs 10 crore," says an industry source.

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