The Nine Desis Who Connect With the Western TV world

Poorna Jagannathan
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New Delhi– What is the one thing that ties Priyanka Chopra, Nimrat Kaur, Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling together? Apart from their Indian connection, the stars are creating ripples in the small screen world of the West.

IANS lists out names of Indian faces who have made their mark in international showbiz, and continue to be on a roll:

* Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from “The Simpsons”: Though a fictional character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon is one of the most beloved characters on the hit TV show “The Simpsons”. Apu is the Indian immigrant proprietor of Kwik-E-Mart, a popular convenience store in Springfield, popularly known for his catchphrase “Thank you, come again”. For voicing this beloved character, actor Hank Azaria has won three Primetime Emmy Awards.

* Hannah Simone: She is better known as CeCe Parekh of “New Girl”. Born to an Indian father and a German mother, Simone plays a model on the show who along with actress Zooey Deschanel is one of the main casts in the series which talks about life, love and friendship.

In an interaction with a magazine, Simone asserted that it is a great time for South Asians in the West, adding that “there are a lot of positive things that have come from being ethnically ambiguous”. Since the show has got a go-ahead for fifth season, she will be back in the gang of “New Girl”, which is aired in India on Star World and Star World HD.

* Nimrat Kaur: Noticed for her work in Indian film “The Lunchbox”, Nimrat landed a role as a Pakistani ISI agent in American show “Homeland”, and then bagged a role in TV series “Wayward Pines”. The actress had earlier told IANS that “TV work in the West has a lot more scope to get into an interesting phase here”. She believes the reason why Indian talent is heading to the West like never before is as the “world is becoming a very smaller place”.

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra

* Priyanka Chopra: After creating waves globally with her singing talent, former Miss World and B-Town’s ‘desi girl’ Priyanka crossed borders for American TV drama “Quantico” as Alex Parrish. She will be back on the small screen with second season of “Quantico” soon, and has a couple of international projects like “Baywatch” and “Project Runway” in the pipeline.

The National Award winner who became the first South Asian actress to win a People’s Choice Award too, she told IANS that it is “fun” for her to have another part of the world discover her “without saying anything”.

Kunal Nayyar (right): Photo: Facebook)
Kunal Nayyar (right): Photo: Facebook)

* Kunal Nayyar: He is the Indian nerd who takes a jibe at his own culture and the stereotypes attached to it — Rajesh Koothrapali from “The Big Bang Theory” gang. He packed his bags and left his home in New Delhi when he was 18 to pursue his Hollywood dreams.

“The Big Bang Theory”, which is currently on air on Zee Café, will be back with season ten. The actor had earlier told IANS that he believes the scope for niche Indian actors has widened a lot in international market, and so, they are taking acting a lot more seriously.

Aziz Ansari (Photo: Facebook)
Aziz Ansari (Photo: Facebook)

* Aziz Ansari: A famous comedian, the Indian-American actor is also one of the main characters in the hit show “Parks and Recreation”. He plays Tom Haverford — a sarcastic, underachieving government official — in the show, currently available on Netflix. He feels the wave of Indian talent in the West will surge in the coming times as “American TV is going to become more diverse”.

But Ansari feels that is not being reflected in Hollywood films as he feels diversity in films is not getting better.

* Mindy Kaling: Along with being a writer, Mindy Kaling, whose real name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam, is a celebrated actress who has played award-nominated roles on popular American shows “The Office” and “The Mindy Project”.

* Indira Varma: She plays the pivotal character of Ellaria Sand in “Game Of Thrones”. Amid all the blood and gore, she has made a place for herself with this powerful character, who is out to seek revenge for her husband’s death.

Poorna Jagannathan
Poorna Jagannathan

* Poorna Jaganathan: Indian actress Poorna Jagannathan has starred in popular American TV shows like “House of Cards”, “The Game” and “The Night Of”. Poorna, who has a background in theatre, will be seen on the big screen with Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega in “The Circle”, the upcoming American science-fiction drama film directed and written by James Ponsoldt.


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