Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone might be making waves in the big ‘H’, but there a whole lot of South Asians that are killing it outside of Bollywood- here are 10 stars that you should start keeping up with ASAP.
Starring on New Girl as CeCe Parekh- sizzling model, chirpy sidekick and closet romantic rolled into one- Hannah Simone claims roots in Germany and Greece in addition to India, having originally worked for the United Nations as a refugee officer before her debut on the little screen. Her role as a series regular has been critically acclaimed, and she’s always killing it with the Instagram game. Catch a couple episodes of New Girl or quick-watch the movie Miss India America (available on Netflix India) for her hilariously honest portrayal of an Indian teen.
Favourite Moment: She doesn't speak all those languages, but girl can fake a killer accent- watch her on Conan for that bomb Indian accent ( is it fake? is it original? we don’t know!)
He stole our hearts as the loveable Tom on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, but his new show - Master of None- is a semi-autobiographical comedy that might just be the most relatable TV production ever, and it’s not just me: he was nominated for a Golden Globe for it!His fam hails from Tamil Nadu although he himself grew up in South Carolina- his parents guest-starred on the show and Netflix even pushed his dad, Shoukath, as an Emmy nominee (his non-nomination spawned many a regretful newspiece- http://www.thisisinsider.com/aziz-ansaris-dad-emmy-snubbed-for-master-of-none-2016-7). But back to Aziz: he has released numerous stand-up comedy specials and even written a book (Modern Romance), as well as articles for TIME and the New Yorker.
Favourite Moment: Just look at this cutie on SNL. http://gph.is/2kfdNWe
His movie, The Big Sick, had it’s rights bought by Amazon for $12 million at the Sundance Festival three days ago- written by and starring the man himself, it tells the real-life story of how he and Carmichael Show writer Emily V Gordon fell in love despite obstacles like their respective religions, Nanjiani’s conservative Pakistani parents (Anupam Kher plays his dad!) and Emily’s life-altering disease. Known for his role on drama Silicon Valley and his stand-up TV series The Meltdown with Johan and Kumail, as well as guest-starring on shows like Community, The Grinder and Veep, Nanjiani is clearly here to stay- and Hollywood is the better for it!
Favourite Moment: Watch him play First Best Last Worst with his wife and Judd Apatow.
Currently starring as Penny Adiyodi on SyFy’s The Magicians, an addictive drama that’s been hailed as “Harry Potter for Grown-ups” and is on its second season, based on a best-selling book series about a group of twenty-year-olds being educated in the magical arts. Gupta has previously acted on Nurse Jackie and the Stand Up Guys- his latest project has him working with Bollywood stalwart Naseeruddin Shah on The Hungry, a retelling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.
Favourite Moment: Anytime he speaks on his hilarious podcast, American Desis:
You might also know her from Bollywood movies like Table 21 and Yeh Faaslay, but Tina has been up on the international stage since 2011, with the celebrated British romcom The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which also starred Richard Gere and Dame Judi Dench (a sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, just came out too). She then hopped across the pond for her latest role, starring as one of the protagonists on the infamous Wachowski siblings’ newest enterprise, the TV series Sense8- in which she plays a Mumbai chemist with an unhappy marriage, suddenly granted telepathic connections to seven others across the globe. Tina’s still kicking ass on the show, which is now in production on its second season!
With countless awards to his name, Patel’s major break was his portrayal of awkward teenager Anwar Kharral in the British TV show Skins, followed of course by Slumdog Millionaire, the critically acclaimed film which won him a BAFTA for Best Actor. In 2016 itself, he played Ramanujan in the biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity and earned a Golden Globe nomination as well as an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the drama Lion: it’s the real-life story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian (Nicole Kidman), and his journey to find his birth mother in his ancestral village, decades afterward. He is the third actor of Indian descent to have received an Oscar nod till date-
favourite Moment: Him and his super-cute castmate Sunny Pawar stole the show at the Golden Globes:
Bombay-born Aasif Mandviwala is both a producer and an actor, famous for appearing movies like The Dictator, The Internship and the recent Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts starrer, Mother’s Day. He can currently be seen in the Netflix’s newest production, A Series of Unfortunate Events, where he plays Uncle Monty. He had his start on Broadway: starring in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, Disgraced, as a culturally conflicted lawyer. He’s a regular contributor to comedic legend The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and has written a laugh-out-loud book named No Land’s Man.
Favourite Moment: any time he’s on the Daily Show, TBH.
The youngest on this list, 17 year old Brar had his start the way so many child stars do: on a Disney Channel family show, but he became the first Indian-American to ever be cast as a series regular on the network. He starred on the hit TV series Jessie as one of the four adopted Ross children, who are cared for by a zany nanny (the titular Jessie) in the absence of their millionaire parents. He reprises his role as Ravi Ross on the series’ spin-off, Bunk’d, and played Chirag Gupta in the movie adaptations of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Karan has won several Young Artist Awards for his work on both big and small screen, as well as an NAACP Image Award nomination.
Favourite Moment: He was hilarious with Lilly Singh (IISuperwomanII) in her video How I Deal With Kids.
You might know him from the Nickelodeon show Victorious, where the former teen heartthrob played aspiring actor Beck Oliver as part of an ensemble cast that also had Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies. He went on to star as protagonist Danny Desai on the ABC show Twisted and was praised for his portrayal of Pharaoh Tutankhamen on the miniseries Tut alongside fellow actor of Indian descent, English stalwart Sir Ben Kingsley. He has directed his own short horror-film and has acting credits from his Canadian background, where he had his break with documentary A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story; newer roles include indie film Ten Thousand Saints with Hailee Steinfeld as well as the biopic I Am Michael, which starred David Franco.
Favourite Moment: Watch young him stare off with Victoria Justice (bonus: you’ll find out how to pronounce his name!) https://youtu.be/vyb1t0owEAo
One of British-Indian actor and singer Jaffrey’s first jobs was working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which cemented his path to the acting world- he starred in Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in London and then became an overnight star for his leading role in the Apollo Theatre’s production of AR Rahman’s Bombay Dreams. He was on late, beloved UK TV series MI-5, and had recurring roles on popular Hollywood shows like Homeland, Mistresses and Elementary prior to his ongoing work as doctor Neal Hudson, one of the leads on CBS drama Code Black.
Favourite Moment: Watch this heart-rending performance in Bollywood musical Bombay Dreams.
- Devanshika Bajpai