"It's important to have inclusion"
Kalpen Suresh Modi, widely known as Kal Penn, is a man of many talents.
As well as acting in the medical drama House, Kal is an executive producer of his upcoming film Hot Mess Holiday.
He has also taught at the University of Pennsylvania in the Cinema Studies Program and has been a White House staff member in the Barack Obama administration.
As Kal gears up for the release of Hot Mess Holiday, he spoke with IANS about the film, his experience of serving as the White House aide and the new avenues for South Asian actors.
Talking about how the west is inculcating more of Indian culture through films, he said:
“There’s so much more diverse content across the board in Hollywood today than there was a decade ago, which means more great projects with more interesting, funny, and diverse stories for audiences to enjoy, like Hot Mess Holiday!”
Talking about the inclusivity of Indian actors in Hollywood, Kal Penn said:
“I generally don’t like to look at just one incredible casting choice or film and assume it’s a trend, but it is exciting to see South Asian actors in all sorts of projects today that I don’t think many of us could have dreamed of a decade ago.
“It’s important to have inclusion rather than tokenisation.”
Reminiscing the days when he worked alongside the 44th US president, Barack Obama, he said:
“It was an honour to serve as a White House aide for President Obama, and one of the highlights was being tasked with helping organise the first-ever White House Diwali celebration attended and hosted by a sitting President.
“I thought about that as we made Hot Mess Holiday – the first Diwali comedy in Hollywood.”
Sharing what his fondest memories of visiting India look like, Kal Penn said:
“Fondest memories have to be coming to visit family as a kid.”
“As an adult, I do visit usually at least once or twice a year for family and work.”
The actor and producer went on to reveal his plans.
He shared that he hopes to delve into Bollywood soon, focusing on the comedy space:
“I’m trying to produce more in Bollywood – there’s an exciting opportunity with the OTT platforms, and the comedy scene has blown up in great ways.”