"It is an honour to be a part of a project like this"
For several decades, Indian actresses have filled Bollywood with colour, talent and glamour.
There is no doubt that they are at the heart of many Indian films.
But several top Indian actresses have wanted to try their hand in the glitzy world of Hollywood.
After setting foot in Beverley Hills, some of them have done well in American cinema, performing with confidence and charisma.
The hearts of Hollywood fans in India glisten with pride when they see their stars in these films.
DESIblitz presents 7 talented Indian actresses who have made it to Hollywood.
Shabana Azmi is one of the most influential Indian actresses. She came to prominence within Bollywood in the early 70s.
However, she has also crossed the Mumbai borders for the Hollywood hills. She also did this far earlier than her Bollywood colleagues.
In 1993, she starred in Son of the Pink Panther, playing the character of Queen
Shabana’s character represents her aura and grace. She acted alongside Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni (Gendarme Jacques Gambrell).
At one point in the film, Queen is the mistress of King Haroak (Oliver Cotton).
Shabana is seen wearing a white unbuttoned shirt. She also puffs away on a cigarette. During one of their trysts, Queen says:
“You’d be soup for my supper.”
This character is diametrically opposite to the Bollywood roles Shabana had previously portrayed.
She had definitely proved her range as a performer with this opportunity.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Having won the ‘Miss World’ pageant in 1994, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had already won hearts outside of India.
However, it was around a decade later when she actually started working in Hollywood.
In 2005, Gurinder Chadha presented Aishwarya on the American screen, starring in The Mistress of Spices.
She plays Tilo in the film, a woman passionate about hazy spices.
Unfortunately, the film did not do too well.
Despite the film being critically panned. Peter Howell had a positive take about Aishwarya’s performance on Rotten Tomatoes:
“Rai manages to retain a straight face while uttering some of the most risible dialogue ever heard in a supposedly serious drama.”
It is a shame that not even Aishwarya’s layered portrayal could save this film from failure.
In 2009, she appeared in The Pink Panther 2. Aishwarya played an Indian jewel thief called Sonia Solandres, also known as ‘the tornado.’
The Times of India noted Aishwarya’s somewhat limited screen-time in the film:
“Don’t expect a monumental performance by Aishwarya, and you’ll find this sequel a pleasant viewing.”
However, they also observed that her character was vastly different from her Bollywood roles. This proves her acting range as an actress.
Some of her American films may have done better than others.
Overall, Aishwarya has succeeded in portraying her inimitable elegance in Hollywood after melting her fans in India.
Freida Pinto is an Indian born actress who appeared in Immortals (2011).
She plays Phaedra, a priestess who accompanies Theseus (Henry Cavill) on his quest to destroy evil.
It was refreshing to see Freida in a role that is a departure from previous characters. In this film, she is in a completely new avatar.
Before this movie, Freida never played bold characters. However, in Immortals, she takes centre stage in an erotic scene.
When Theseus is enslaved, the emotion Frieda portrays is heart-wrenching. Her eyes glow with fear.
Frieda’s character shows that she is willing to go outside of her comfort zone as a performer.
Her prominent role also indicates the confidence Hollywood has in her.
Roger Ebert praises Frieda’s character in the film. He describes her as having “a lovely face.”
Frieda has also been credited with breaking the stereotypes of Indian women whenever she steps foot inside the American screen.
For this very reason, she had had recognition in Hollywood. Freida is certainly a great Indian actress who has fame written all over her.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra also won the ‘Miss World’ title, gaining fame in 2004.
In 2018, she tied the knot to Nick Jonas. That definitely increased her recognition in the West.
However, it is her Hollywood film career that she should be remembered for.
In 2017, Priyanka appeared in the Seth Gordon directorial, Baywatch as Victoria Leeds.
Victoria is a shrewd businesswoman who uses bribery to increase her stakes in the fictional Huntley Club.
In one particular scene, CJ Parker (Kelly Rohrbach) says that Victoria looks “amazing.” A confident Victoria replies, saying:
“Well someone has to.”
Baywatch did not perform well critically, but lead actor Dwayne Johnson defends it saying that fans “loved” it.
Despite mixed reactions, Radio Times praised Priyanka, stating:
“Priyanka Chopra judges the mood perfectly, playing the villain with exactly the right amount of dramatic flair.”
Priyanka is also famous for her role in the acclaimed American TV series, Quantico.
In 2011, Kareena Kapoor Khan appeared on the television chat show Koffee With Karan.
When asked which one question would she like to ask Priyanka, Kareena replied:
“Why does she have that accent?”
The answer to Kareena’s question is that Priyanka may have been preparing herself for a career in the West.
In 2017, Deepika Padukone made her Hollywood debut in XXX: Return of Xander Cage.
In the film, she plays Serena Unger, a huntress.
She features in the film alongside famous stars such as Nina Dobrev (Becky Clearidge) and Vin Diesel (Xander Cage)
Unlike Priyanka, Deepika’s command of the English language is somewhat accented.
However, that did not stop the Cocktail (2012) star from delivering a mind-blowing performance.
Reviewing the movie, Anshu Lal from Firstpost, slates the film, but he is complimentary of Deepika’s role:
“Her character stands out from the others because of genuinely good acting and dialogue delivery.”
Anshu also positively observes the aforementioned accent:
“It is also a bit refreshing to see Padukone’s Indian accent not getting replaced with some fake American accent.”
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Deepika spoke about being prominent in Bollywood and starting out in American films:
“I’d heard so much about the movies [in Hollywood], and of course we watch all of it. But it was exactly the same.”
Deepika may be known for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s opulent sets. But she surely seems made for Hollywood too.
Tabu is one of the most popular Indian actresses in Bollywood. She began her career as a teenager.
She has since gone on to spread her wings in a variety of cinema. That includes the alluring industry of Hollywood.
In 2012, Tabu starred in Life of Pi, appearing as Gita Patel. She is the mother of Piscine Molitor ‘Pi’ Patel (Suraj Sharma).
Pi wishes to follow different faiths growing up. While his father and brother mock this, Gita is the only one who supports and encourages him.
This shows that she is caring and compassionate. Tabu delivers a remarkable performance in her somewhat limited role.
Talking about her first Hollywood role, Tabu divulges:
“It is an honour to be a part of a project like this without attaching so much significance to how big my role is.
“The real heroes are the story and the director.”
Tabu clearly enjoyed her role, which is evident in her sensitive portrayal.
Veteran Bollywood actress Dimple Kapadia made her Hollywood debut with Tenet (2020).
In the film, she plays Priya Singh, who is an arms trafficker.
Priya hires someone to assassinate Katherine ‘Kat’ Barton (Elizabeth Debicki). The latter prevents Priya from achieving her goal.
Dimple’s character is definitely pivotal to the story. With Priya being unsuccessful, she is subsequently killed.
In a review of Tenet, Variety describes Dimple as “wonderful, in the film’s wiliest performance.”
After primarily entertaining Bollywood fans, it was a breath of fresh air to see Dimple in a pure Hollywood action drama.
Dimple found the experience of working in Tenet as “incredible.”
Despite the film not winning the critics, Dimple’s performance in this American film garnered nothing but praise.
There are plenty of Indian actresses who have achieved glory in South Asia. But some of them bring that talent into Hollywood as well.
Another one of them is Padma Lakshmi. She comically lip-syncs her way through Glitter (2001) as the talented Sylk.
These ladies prove that they are more than capable of acting in multiple parts of the world.
Sometimes, English is not even their first language. However, that does not stop them from creating waves of excitement in American cinema.
Whenever Indian fans watch them on international screens, they burst with pride.
There is no doubt that these Indian actresses who have crossed over to Hollywood shall consider futures roles.
The key for them is not to just be stereotyped and be valued as per their talent.