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Finally, an Indian actor who ain't Lost

The foray of Indians into films has been notable but sporadic, says Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Feb 11, 2006 20:22 IST

Given the Indian Diaspora's penetration in many formidable fields in the West, it is only too surprising to note that the foray of Indian actors into films and television here has been notable but sporadic.

Lately though, a British Indian actor of Indian origin is making quite the buzz in America.

Starring in ABC's popular and critically acclaimed television series Lost, that premiered in 2004 and that has gone on to become one of TV's most watched drama series, is Naveen Andrews.

Lost is a multiple Emmy Award-winning action-packed adventure that will return to the tube for a keenly anticipated second season.

This mystery about an Oceanic Air flight 815 that crashes on a Pacific island leaving its survivors to battle the unknown such as a ghoulish creatures stalking the jungle and a mysterious group referred to as 'The Others' with little else than their inner strength unravels before a zealous audience show after show.

Its impact has not gone unnoticed and it has gone on to sweep this year's SAG and Golden Globe nods. It won the SAG Awards as also the Globe for the best ensemble cast in a drama series. More, Naveen earned a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor in the ABC-TV series.

In the series, this gifted and versatile artist plays Sayid Jarrah and is gaining popularity week upon week with his ingenuous and credible turn as a former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard.

His belief in the portrayal of the character Sayid that comes with a baggage of prejudiced opinion is perhaps a reason why he is so successful and completely believable to the audience.

In fact, reaction to his on screen Iraqi persona has been both humane and empathetic.

Andrews, voted Sexiest Survivalist in 2005 by People Magazine, has an interesting array of pugmarks that track his way onto where he is today.

Not all of them refer to his acting abilities, though those are enormous.

The London born 36-year-old actor has caused quite a stir off screen with his rumoured adolescent hankerings -- an affair with his teacher when he was 16, and later fathering her child in 92 -- but interestingly it is always his on screen portrayal that has left the audience, well Provoked.

Andrews is an alumnus of the renowned London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama that has been alma mater of sorts to other actors such as Ewan McGregor and David Thewlis. His debut role in Hanif Kureshi's film, London Kills Me (91)was the outset of a career that has grown steadily over the years since.

Audiences in India may remember his performances in the off-beat blast Bombay Boys (he played Krishna Sahni) and as the narcissistic Raj Singh of Kamasutra: A Tale of Love (96). Recently, Naveen played Balraj Bingley in the Aishwarya Rai starrer, Bride and Prejudice.

In the film The English Patient (96) Andrews essayed the role of Kip with élan.

He has made notable appearances in other films as Mighty Joe Young, True Love and Chaos, and Drowning on Dry Land, in which he co-starred with Barbara Hershey, his current girlfriend and an accomplished actress in her own right.

Naveen has been nominated for Best Actor at the San Remo Film Festival for The Buddha of Suburbia and Best Supporting Actor at the Chlotrudis Awards for The English Patient. He was awarded a Prism Award in December.

The Los Angeles based actor will soon be seen in the upcoming ABC miniseries The Ten Commandments, with Omar Sharif and as Deepak Ahluwalia in Gurinder Chadha's Provoked.

While fans can expect many more riveting performances from the actor, seen beaming at recent award shows, it is his ongoing role in Lost that ensured his success, quick success at that in a profession that sees many talents go unnoticed.

Naveen is new in Sanskrit, and in playing an Iraqi marooned literally amid 'the others' this Indian-British American transplant has outdone himself.

In some ways, Andrews has successfully conveyed the script's conviction in underlying human flaws and simultaneous human sublimity.

His character therefore, may go the mile in neutralizing the negative stereotypes and profiling attached to the Mid-eastern Muslim in the current political clime, due to its sheer popularity and force, which is not just incidental to the plot, but pivotal to it in many ways.

First Published: Feb 11, 2006 20:22 IST