From Adarsh Gourav to Kubbra Sait: Indian actors who shone bright in Hollywood this year

Dec 27, 2021 09:14 AM IST

From Priyanka Chopra in The Matrix Resurrections and Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger to Kubbra Sait in Foundation, Indian actors bagged meaty parts in films and shows in the west this year.

While Indian actors have appeared in major films and shows in Hollywood for decades, 2021 can be called a watershed moment for Indian representation in major western entertainment. From blockbuster franchises such as The Matrix and the MCU to award-winning films like The White Tiger and big-budget sci-fi epics like Foundation, Indian actors were everywhere this year. A look at the Indian artistes who made their presence felt in international films and shows in 2021:

Priyanka Chopra Jonas in The Matrix Resurrections and Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger and Kubbra Sait in Foundation.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas in The Matrix Resurrections and Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger and Kubbra Sait in Foundation.

Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger

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Even though he had already worked in films like My Name is Khan and Mom, and the web series Hostel Daze, The White Tiger was where Adarsh Gourav was first noticed. Adarsh played the lead role in the Ramin Bahrani film. Even though the film also starred Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra, it was Adarsh who stole the show. His strong performance was appreciated by fans and critics alike and earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Kubbra Sait in Foundation

While Lee Pace and Jared Harris may have been the biggest names on board Apple TV’s sci-fi epic Foundation, Kubbra Sait certainly held her own in the show. And it was by no means a ‘blink and you miss it’ role that Indian actors have often been limited to in international productions. Kubbra played Phara, the season’s main antagonist. “Everybody works for that one moment which is their breakthrough, and I don't think I could have been luckier than to be working on probably one of the biggest shows made in the history of world television,” Kubbra said in a conversation with Screen Rant after the show aired.

Pravesh Rana in Foundation and Serpent

The other Indian face in Foundation was Pravesh Rana. The actor played Rowan, a lieutenant loyal to Kubbra’s Phara. It is likely that his character Rowan will appear in Foundation’s second season as well. For Pravesh, who was best known for his appearance in Bigg Boss and his stint as the host of Emotional Atyachar, 2021 was somewhat of a renaissance year. He was also seen in a small role in Netflix series Serpent, based on Charles Sobhraj.

Huma Qureshi in Army of the Dead

Zack Snyder’s zombie heist film Army of the Dead was one of the most anticipated releases of the year. And alongside an ensemble cast of Dave Bautista, Elia Purnell, and Matthias Schweighöfer, was Huma Qureshi. Huma played Geeta, a supporting character that was pivotal to the film’s plot. Director Zack Snyder was all praises for Huma. In an interaction with Hindustan Times, he said, “We talked about who we could get, and the casting director brought her up. I watched some of her material, and I was like, ‘this actress is amazing’.”

Nitu Chandra in a still from Never Back Down: Revolt
Nitu Chandra in a still from Never Back Down: Revolt

Nitu Chandra Srivastava in Never Back Down: Revolt

16 years after her Bollywood debut and having worked in dozens of films in several languages, 2021 was the year when Nitu Chandra Srivastava made her Hollywood debut. The actor was featured in the direct-to-home release Never Back Down: Revolt, where she played Jaya, a woman who is kidnapped and forced to fight in an underground fighting club to survive. Speaking to HT about her role earlier in the year, Nitu revealed the character had been written specifically for her after the film’s producer learned of her taekwondo background. “By the end of our conversation, David (Zelon, the film’s producer) asked them to script the character around me. That is how Jaya's character has been written,” she said.

Harish Patel in The Eternals

In the middle of a stellar cast featuring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden and more, Indian actor Harish Patel did enough to be noticed through his cameo in Marvel’s Eternals. Harish played Karun, assistant to Kingo, played by Kumail Nanjiani. In the film, Kingo is an Eternal (a race of immortal super-powered beings) who moonlights as a Bollywood superstar. Speaking to PTI before the film’s release, Harish had said that he didn’t know or recognise most of the actors at his audition. “I told Kumail that I am not that good or fluent with English and I don’t know anyone of them present here. I guess he told everyone about this and they all smiled at me and were so humble,” he said.

Also read: Kubbra Sait on opportunities for Indian actors in the West: Things are rapidly changing

Priyanka Chopra in The Matrix Resurrections

PCJ is no newbie to Hollywood. Ever since her show Quantico aired, she has been seen in several western productions. But 2021 marked the actor’s arrival in her biggest film till date- The Matrix Resurrections. Priyanka played a grown-up Sati, a character seen in the original trilogy as a child. And even as some sections of media criticised her for taking a ‘small part’, Priyanka defended it, saying, “Even when I picked my movies in Bollywood, I have always picked roles according to characters and they are not necessarily always the lead.”

Purab Kohli as a game developer in The Matrix Resurrections.
Purab Kohli as a game developer in The Matrix Resurrections.

Purab Kohli in The Matrix Resurrections

Another Indian face, who was seen in the latest Matrix film was Purab Kohli. Purab was seen as a game developer in the Hollywood blockbuster, sharing screen space with Keanu Reeves. Speaking to NDTV, Purab said, “I never thought I could be a part of the 'Matrix' franchise. This is such a big film, and you are part of it.” The actor didn’t even have to audition for his role, he revealed in an interview, since he had already worked with director Lana Wachowski earlier in Sense8.


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