Indians have, down the years, featured in international productions.

Shashi Kapoor, Amrish Puri, Shabana Azmi and Gulshan Grover are some of the luminaries that have acted in Hollywood productions. In recent times, Om Puri, considered one of India's finest artistes, has featured in a number of British films. He is slated to play King Lear, in a screen adaptation of William Shakespeare's great tragedy.

Salman Khan will soon follow when he shoots with Hollywood's Willard Carroll for Marigold. There is also talk of Hollywood approaching Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai.

We present a more detailed look at Indian stars in Western projects:


Shashi Kapoor
Shashi Kapoor starred in Ismail Merchant and James Ivory's production, The Householder, based on Ruth Praver Jhabvala's novel of the same name, in 1963. Kapoor essayed the role of a young schoolteacher named Prem who gets married to the beautiful Indu (Leela Naidu) and finds himself torn between her and his mother (Durga Khote).

Later, he also worked with Merchant-Ivory in Heat And Dust (another Jhabvala novel adapted on celluloid) as a young nawab who falls in love with a British heroine. He also played a decadent poet in Ismail Merchant's In Custody (1994), based on Anita Desai's novel of the same name. Kapoor also starred in Conrad Rooks's Siddhartha and British filmmaker Hanif Kureishi’s Sammy And Rosie Get Laid (1987).


Om Puri
Perhaps the most prolific and well accepted Indian actor abroad is Om Puri, who has played major roles in at least half a dozen international projects. It all started with his role as the impoverished rickshaw-puller of Roland Joffe’s City Of Joy with Patrick Swayze a decade ago. Then he landed roles in prestigious projects like the Jack Nicholson starrer The Wolf (1994) and The Ghost And The Darkness(1996) featuring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer.

While he was still getting peripheral parts in Hollywood productions, the British industry showered him with lead roles. Interestingly, in many of these films, he played Pakistani characters. The first was Brothers In Trouble (1996), where he essayed a hot-tempered boarding house owner, followed by the pivotal part of a quirky taxi driver who watches his son become an Islamic extremist in My Son The Fanatic (1999).

A landmark film in his international career was East Is East (2000), which got nominated for the British Academy Awards. Puri played a Pakistani immigrant named George Khan, a fanatic trying to impose his native culture on his half-British children.

More recently, he starred in John Duigan's comedy The Parole Officer (2001) as a reformed convict who teams up with two other ex-cons to help their parole officer; and in Ralph Ziman's The Zookeeper (2001), where he dons the role of a veterinary doctor put in charge of a zoo in an Eastern European country along with Sam Neill.

Puri is all set to appear in the title role of John Sen's adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic play King Lear which stars Parminder Nagra (Jessie of Bend It Like Beckham) as his wife and daughter.


Shabana Azmi
Another Indian artiste who has been recognised and honoured internationally is Shabana Azmi.

In fact, this year's New York Film Festival even featured a retrospective of her films.

Azmi's first major international project was John Schlesinger’s Madame Sousatzka (1988) alongside Shirley MacLaine. Next came City Of Joy (1992), followed by Blake Edwards's Son Of The Pink Panther (1993) and most recently, Side Streets (1999), where she played Chandra Raj, an Indian living in New York fed up of her brother-in-law (Shashi Kapoor), a faded Bollywood star.


Gulshan Grover
He is apparently very popular with Hollywood stars such as Goldie Hawn.

His most famous international project was The Second Jungle Book (1997), a screen adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel. He has also starred in lesser-known Hollywood productions such as Jagmohan Mundra's Tales of The Kama Sutra 2: Monsoon (1998) and Tail Sting (2001).


Kabir Bedi
He may have never made it big in Bollywood, but still landed the title role in the Italian adventure movie, Sandokan (1977) about the life and times of a pirate who tries to free his homeland from the clutches of the East India Company.

The success of this film gave him a firm push on to the international scene. Later, he was seen in the Bond film Octopussy (1983) playing a character called Gobinda. He also landed small roles in a few television and video productions, including popular soap The Bold And The Beautiful, in the US and the UK.


Naseeruddin Shah
His international career has not taken off in a big way yet. While he did feature in the screen adaptation of Rohinton Mistry's novel Such A Long Journey, his first major Hollywood film is that of Captain Nemo in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which costars Sean Connery and is scheduled to release next year.

Saaed Jaffrey
Another actor who stood his ground with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, Saeed Jaffrey has the worked with frontline stars such as Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan.

One of his most important roles was in Stephen Frears's My Beautiful Launderette (1985), where he played Nasser, the owner of the beautiful launderette.

In 1988, he was seen in The Deceivers alongside Brosnan; in the British production In Between (2001); and was last seen in Day Of The Sirens (2002).


Text: Deepa Gumaste
Design: Uday Kuckian

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