Bollywood stars making it big in Hollywood

Indian actresses Deepika Padukone in xXx: Return Of Xander Cage and Priyanka Chopra in the upcoming movie Baywatch are the latest in a series of stars to bring together Bollywood and Hollywood. Here are some Indian names to look out for in the next American film

Deepika Padukone, 31

International project: xXx: Return Of Xander Cage (2017)

Hot on the heels of Quantico's Priyanka Chopra is the equally stunning Deepika Padukone, who made her Hollywood debut last month in the Vin Diesel actioner, xXx: Return Of Xander Cage.

In the film, which is in cinemas here, she plays sexy villain Serena. The character shows off her slick fighting skills in a number of thrilling action sequences alongside action stars such as Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa.

The movie's ending hints at another xXx sequel to come for the franchise and rumour has it that the role of Serena will be bigger in the next instalment.

Although international audiences are getting to know Padukone only now, anyone who has been following the Bollywood scene knows that she is one of India's most sought-after stars.

Known for her beauty as well as versatile acting skills, she has a string of Best Actress awards to her name, including Filmfare trophies for her roles in the tragic romance Ram-Leela (2013) and comedy Piku (2015).

She is also one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, being the only Indian star to make it onto Forbes' annual Top 10 list last year with US$10 million (S$14 million) in earnings.


Anil Kapoor, 60

International projects: Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011), 24 (Season 8, 2010)

Unlike Irrfan Khan, who is favoured by Hollywood for his intelligent vibe, Anil Kapoor stands out because of his masculine charm.

Often seen with a neat moustache or full beard, he veers on being smarmy, but there is no doubt that he is a hit with women of a certain vintage.

With an indie Hollywood hit (Slumdog Millionaire), a mega franchise movie (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) and a hit television series (24) to his name, he has spread his wings wide in Hollywood.

What he hopes for his international career is that he not be constantly treated as an actor from India.

In a Hollywood Reporter interview a few years ago, he said he wanted to be seen as "an international star and not an Indian star".


Anupam Kher, 61

International projects: Silver Linings Playbook (2012), The Headhunter's Calling (2016), Love Sonia (2017), The Big Sick (2017), Hotel Mumbai (2017)

Sweet and smiley, Anupam Kher is the fatherly type that everyone likes.

Over the years, the prolific actor has taken roles in movies such as David O. Russell's acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook, where he played Bradley Cooper's therapist.

This year looks set to be his biggest Hollywood year yet, with three films in the works: Love Sonia, The Big Sick and Hotel Mumbai.

Love Sonia, which is directed by Slumdog Millionaire producer Tabrez Noorani and produced by Life Of Pi's David Womark, is a film about sex trafficking in India and will also star Freida Pinto and Demi Moore.

The Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy The Big Sick, based on the real-life romance of Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, will also star Ray Romano, Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan.

Hotel Mumbai, which is centred on the 2008 Mumbai attack at Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, will feature an international cast, with actors such as Dev Patel, Armie Hammer and Jason Isaacs.

In the thriller, Kher will take on the role of the hotel's former star chef Hemant Oberoi, who was in the building during the attack.


Amyra Dastur, 23 Disha Patani, 24

International project: Kung Fu Yoga (2017)

It is typical of Jackie Chan movies to feature hot babes, usually Chinese.

His latest action adventure movie Kung Fu Yoga, however, casts the spotlight on two sexy Indian actresses - Amyra Dastur and Disha Patani.

In the film, Dastur plays a feisty princess, Kyra, while Patani plays her elder princess sister, Ashmita.

The pair enlist the help of Chan, who plays an archaeology professor, to go on a mission to recover some lost treasures of their kingdom.

Unfortunately, as with most of Chan's former female co-stars, Dastur and Patani fail to make much of a mark since most of the attention is on the action set pieces.

Still, the two newbies have received international exposure.

In Singapore, the film was the No. 1 movie during the Chinese New Year festive season.


Priyanka Chopra, 34

International projects: TV series Quantico (2015-present), action movie Baywatch

Priyanka Chopra's career in Hollywood is most likely to go further than that of her Indian peers.

The former beauty queen (Miss World, 2000) and star of Bollywood hits such as Krrish (2006) and Don (2006) has been getting plenty of notice recently for two major mainstream Hollywood projects: TV series Quantico and Baywatch, the much buzzed-about movie reboot of the iconic 1990s television series.

As FBI agent Alex Parrish in drama thriller Quantico, Chopra made headlines for being the first South Asian to lead an American network series.

She was also the first South Asian to win a People's Choice Award, when she took home a trophy last year for the role in the category of Favourite Actress In A New TV Series. Last month, she won another one at the same awards show for Favourite Dramatic TV Actress.

Apart from Quantico, she is busy promoting Baywatch, alongside A-listers Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. The movie adaptation of the TV series is slated for release in May.

While she will not be donning the famous red Baywatch swimsuit here, as she is playing the mysterious villain, fans need not worry as she will still be showing off her hot bod in plenty of slinky dresses.

In an Instagram post on her account (@priyankachopra) this week, she shared a picture of herself from the movie in a figure-hugging strapless red dress with the caption: "Being bad can be so good."

We completely agree.


Irrfan Khan, 50

International projects: Life Of Pi (2012), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Jurassic World (2015), Inferno (2016)

Whether it is his understated style of acting or his always fashion-forward looks, there is something about Irrfan Khan that screams cool.

Evidently, Hollywood bigwigs think so too.

When Khan was in Singapore last year to promote blockbuster movie Inferno (2016) alongside Hollywood A-lister Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard, the Oscar-winning Hanks said at the press conference: "I always think I'm the coolest guy in the room... And then Irrfan Khan walks into the room, and he's the coolest guy in the room, and everybody's intimidated to be in his presence and everybody's hanging on to his every word."

That presence has translated into intelligent, successful roles - in Inferno, he was The Provost, the head of a powerful mysterious organisation, and in Jurassic World, he was the wealthy owner of the theme park.

No word yet on what his next international project will be - he is busy enough shooting three Indian films. But we think there is a good chance Hollywood will knock on his door again.


Huma Qureshi, 30

International project: Viceroy's House (2017)

Unlike Deepika Padukone's or Priyanka Chopra's much more mainstream projects, Huma Qureshi's international debut is in British arthouse flick, Viceroy's House.

In the film about life inside Viceroy's House, the home of the British rulers in India, during the 1947 partition of the country, Qureshi plays Aalia, a Muslim interpreter to the last Viceroy of India.

Although this historical epic will have a much more limited release than Chopra's Baywatch, the sumptuous period piece, which screened at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this month, comes with very strong pedigree.

It is directed by British film-maker Gurinder Chadha, who also helmed hit movie Bend It Like Beckham (2002), and it stars Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, 2010-2015), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, 1993-2016) and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, 2010-2011).

Already, Qureshi has impressed Chadha, who said in an interview with The Times Of India that the actress will "get a great launch in global cinema" through this film.


Ali Fazal, 30

International projects: Furious 7 (2015), Victoria And Abdul (2017)

Ali Fazal (pictured while filming Happy Bhaag Jayegi in 2015) made his Hollywood debut in blockbuster movie Furious 7, but his role of a mechanic was so tiny that he was completely forgettable.

The hunk will likely make a much more lasting impression when the movie Victoria And Abdul opens in September. In it, he takes on the role of the titular Abdul, opposite a Queen Victoria played by Judi Dench.

Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, 2006), the film, about the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria and young Indian clerk Abdul, will also star the likes of Eddie Izzard and Tim Pigott-Smith.

Now that sounds like a much stronger introduction to international audiences.

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 26, 2017, with the headline 'From Bollywood to Hollywood'. Subscribe