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When Bollywood stars turned phoren phenomena

Last updated on: December 22, 2011 16:22 IST

When Bollywood stars turned phoren phenomena

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Raja Sen in Mumbai
Several of our actors talk big about going West, and very few make it.
 
Here's a look at 10 prominent East-goes-to-West journeys, and the roles that were meant to get them there:

Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

A lead villain role in a super-successful franchise made by the most commercially successful director in the history of Hollywood? A career in Los Angeles seemed calling for Om Puri, but while he was predictably great as Mola Ram, his highly stereotyped role might have ensured him not fitting into Hollywood productions that weren't hunting for black-magician Indian cult leaders.

Image: Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom


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Om Puri in City Of Joy

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This Roland Joffe adaptation of Dominique Lapierre's novel had Om Puri star in the lead as Hasari Pal, a farmer who moves to Calcutta where, forced to fend for his family, he becomes a rickshaw-puller.
 
Puri was great in the film, especially when taking giant running leaps set to Ennio Morricone's rousing score, but Hollywood only cast him in token brown-guy roles, mostly mystic/shamanic parts like in Wolf and The Ghost And The Darkness. 

Image: Om Puri and Patrick Swayze in City Of Joy


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Kabir Bedi in Octopussy

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The dashing Kabir Bedi had very high hopes from Octopussy, but his rather embarrassing role as Gobinda, the main villain's Bodyguard, didn't get the tall man with the striking voice very far in the West.
 
He did, however, find prolonged success in a European television series called Sandokan, a show that made him extremely popular in Italy. 

Image: Kabir Bedi in Octopussy


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Persis Khambatta in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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As the bald Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, former Ms India Persis Khambatta was a striking, immediately noticeable beauty.
 
Unfortunately, a serious car crash in 1980, the year after Star Trek, left her with a big scar on her head.
 
She still appeared in films like Nighthawks and Megaforce, and was the first Indian citizen to present an Academy Award, back in 1980.

Image: Persis Khambatta in Star Trek: The Motion Picture


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Tabu in The Namesake

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Tabu made waves with her performance in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Namesake, and while this might not have immediately opened doors for the actress so criminally underused by Hindi cinema, it did lead to a leading role in Ang Lee's upcoming adaptation of Yann Martel's Life Of Pi.
 
The film is slated to release in December 2012.

Image: Tabu in The Namesake


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Aishwarya Rai in The Mistress Of Spices

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an internationally bestselling author with a cult audience, but not a single reader seemed remotely content with Paul Mayeda Berges' severely flawed directorial debut.
 
This was supposed to be Rai's big moment on the world stage, playing the book's heroine, but the film sank and burned, and despite following this up with The Last Legion, her Hollywood highlight remains a bit part in the unwatchable Pink Panther 2.

Image: Aishwarya Rai in The Mistress Of Spices


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Naseeruddin Shah in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

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The idea of playing Jules Verne's legendary Captain Nemo must have appealed to Shah, appeal that could only be amplified by the fact that LXG was based on the graphic novel by the famed Alan Moore.
 
But all the veteran actor could get out of the abysmal Stephen Norrington film was the chance to rub shoulders with Sir Sean Connery. 

Image: Naseeruddin Shah in The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen


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Irrfan Khan in A Mighty Heart

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It's hard to narrow down just which Irrfan Khan role to call his big international breakout, since the man has worked with the best of directors -- Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart), Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited), Mira Nair (The Namesake), Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and Adis Kapadia (The Warrior).
 
A reliably excellent actor, he's made the crossover as successfully as can be, and will next be seen in 2012's most anticipated release, The Amazing Spider-Man.

Image: Irrfan Khan in A Mighty Heart


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Freida Pinto in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

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Despite a miniscule role in Slumdog Millionaire, Freida shone not just on the red carpet but was also highly regarded by the leading directors of her time.
 
She worked with the legendary Woody Allen in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, following that up with Julian Schnabel's Miral and, recently, Tarsem Singh's The Immortals. In between came the blockbuster Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, where she starred opposite Hollywood golden boy James Franco.
 
Despite what the Indian media might snidely say, this is an actress on the up and up, and, judging by her rising popularity in the Sexiest Woman Alive lists in various magazines, is poised to stay in the Hollywood spotlight for the foreseeable future.

Image: Freida Pinto in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger


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Anil Kapoor in 24

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Kapoor, playing the bitterly antagonistic gameshow host in Slumdog Millionaire, had a lot to prove when he crossed over to American television with hit TV series 24.
 
A recurring multiple-episode part as a Middle-Easter president about to be assassinated, it was a meaty role for Kapoor, leading to several doors opening for him.
 
He had a small role in Mission Impossible 4, opposite Tom Cruise, but will next be seen in a leading role alongside Clive Owen in a film called Cities. And the 24 hoopla spills onto the desi small screen next year as he prepares to be the Indian Jack Bauer.

Image: The 24 poster


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