Disclaimer: Originally published in March 2019. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
Winning an Oscar has always been considered to mark the peak of an actor’s career. This accolade has always been held in the highest regard. Sadly, this holds true even for actors from Bollywood.
For this very reason, Hollywood has seen legends of Indian cinema migrating to Hollywood for a blink-and-miss role.
There has been a significant rise in the number of actors going abroad with the ebbing of racism. However, discrimination still prevails and largely sticks to Indian-born and bred, Bollywood migrants.
The Indian Stereotype
The roles performed by those Bollywood bigwigs are mediocre and nothing short of monotonous. In every movie, Hollywood casts Indians in a laughably stereotypical role.
The actors are typically cast as a doctor, a friend, a nurse or an obnoxious spoilt, rich brat, and are made to say no more than 2-3 lines to enhance the main lead’s character.
Critically Acclaimed Actors Who Followed In The Footsteps Of This Stereotype
Let us go back to the iconic movie, The Great Gatsby, starring Leo Dicaprio. Gatsby was a star-studded movie with actors like Carrey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire.
The film also featured Amitabh Bachchan as a Jewish smuggler. However, an actor of his caliber was only featured in a blink-and-miss role.
A similar, two-bit role was played by Anil Kapoor in Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol. Kapoor’s much-hyped role was a serious letdown for fans when the movie was screened.
Moreover, the critically acclaimed actor was met with humiliating responses on his role as a playboy, Brij Nath.
Sukanya Verma, a film critic, points out that with a number of hits in Hollywood, one expected something more substantial from Kapoor.
“Instead, we see him salivating over a girl in a three-minute role. Forget the length, most of us thought it was a wasted opportunity because India’s representative was only playing an enduring western cliché that portrayed Indian men as lecherous skirt-chasers,” she says.
Featuring Priyanka Chopra’s Downfall
However, the one Indian actor who did manage to break the mold with her role as Alex Parrish was Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
With a hit show like Quantico, We all thought PC was on her way to make her mark in Hollywood.
However, after the show ended, she resorted to taking up the very roles that Indian actors before her played. Initially, there was a prominent buzz around Chopra’s role in Baywatch. In fact, a separate poster was released, featuring only Chopra.
She was given the role of Victoria Leeds, the villain, whom she could’ve played in her sleep. Despite her role as a villain, Priyanka’s presence on screen was negligible. And apart from looking good, the script offered her nothing more of substance.
Similarly, Priyanka played yet another blink-and-miss role in the movie, “A Kid Like Jake”. Priyanka played the role of a family friend, Amal. Once again, Chopra’s screentime was limited to 3-5 minutes.
However, a new Netflix original, “Isn’t It Romantic” was released last night and with Priyanka’s name in the forefront, my hopes were raised.
But my enthusiasm fizzled faster than an open can of soda. Because once again conforming to the age-old stereotype was Chopra.
This time, in a poor spoof of romcoms, Priyanka was given the role of a ditzy blonde. And to add salt to the wound, PC played a self-proclaimed yoga ambassador. All Chopra did in her limited screen time was preen and prance about in the skimpiest clothes possible.
It is moments like these in which Bollywood superstars should question their purpose in Hollywood. Why can’t Indian actors be satisfied with playing prominent and impactful roles in Bollywood?
Why do they aspire for barely-there roles on international screens where their prowess in acting is undermined? Why can’t Filmfare be enough?
Why do Bollywood actors covet validation from a country which discriminates on the basis of one’s culture?
Hollywood should not be their benchmark or ticket to international fame. Many actors and personnel associated with Bollywood have been able to create an impact by staying true to their niche.
Movies like Raazi, Dor, Taare Zameen Par, Padman and many more have had great success in sensitizing people to social issues and creating awareness. This success was accompanied by several accolades and international recognition.
Image Credits: Google Images
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