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Hollywood racist for Asians, says Dev Patel

Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel feels that Hollywood is institutionally racist and Asians are offered limited roles such as terrorists, taxi drivers or geeks.

hollywood Updated: Aug 11, 2010 19:09 IST

Hollywood is institutionally racist and Asians are offered limited roles such as terrorists, taxi drivers or geeks, Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel has said.

The 20-year-old actor from Harrow, northwest London, who became popular after playing a boy from Mumbai slums in his debut film in 2009 which bagged eight Oscars, has been frustrated by the lack of decent roles on offer and is currently jobless, according to The Telegraph.

"Because Slumdog was such a big hit there was a lot of pressure in terms of what I did next. For my second film I wanted a role that would stretch me, but all I was getting offered were stereotypical parts like the goofy Indian sidekick," he said.

Dev Patel"Asian actors tend not to be sent Hollywood scripts that are substantial or challenging. I'm likely to be offered the roles of a terrorist, cab driver and smart geek... I want to show that I have versatility."

"You have to remember that, before Slumdog, the last film about India that went big at the Oscars was Gandhi, as played by Ben Kingsley. The fact that me and Freida have any kind of platform in Hollywood is a big step forward," he was quoted as saying.

Freida Pinto played Patel's love interest in Slumdog Millionaire and is now his real-life girlfriend. The Indian-born former model has had more success than Patel, winning a role in Woody Allen's latest film.

Patel said he was hoping to overcome prejudice. "I'm buzzing with adrenaline and raring to go, but I have to be realistic. Being an Asian actor, it's never going to be easy. Hopefully the industry is changing and the casting directors will be less focused on colour so that people like myself can get through the door."

He was plucked from the relative obscurity of Channel 4's teen drama, Skins, to make his film debut in Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle.

Unfortunately, the film Patel chose for his second role has been mired in accusations of racism. The Last Airbender is based on a children's television cartoon in which the main characters are Asian.

The 100 million-pound Hollywood adaptation, released in Britain this week, has white actors playing the roles and the Asian actors - including Patel - are limited to playing baddies.

When the film premiered in the US last month, protesters demonstrated outside the cinema in Los Angeles.

The actor still lives at home with his parents and travels on public transport.

He said, "One time I was on the Tube and I picked up a free newspaper. Inside was a big article with the headlines, 'Dev Patel, the new rising star' along with a picture of me. This woman got on and started reading the piece. She looked up at me and did a classic double-take."

First Published: Aug 10, 2010 20:22 IST