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Westward bound and back

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By: Praveen Lance Fernandes, IndiaFM
Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How many times do we recall a leading Indian actress screaming from rooftops that she is doing a Hollywood film and somehow it proves to be a damp squid and has no takers at the box-office? Everyday some actor, no matter how small he is, claims to go Hollywood.

Gulshan Grover

One might definitely want to say that India's very own 'Bad Man' Gulshan Grover has never done justice to his talent by not doing really great roles in his career. He started out his luck in Bollywood in 1980 with the multi-starrer Hum Paanch where he shared screen with Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakravarthy, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Shabana Azmi and Sanjeev Kumar. He then went on to star in quite a few films as the antagonist.

It was only in 1997 that he tried to make a name for himself abroad. He did a French TV film Les Mystères de Sadjurah and subsequently was the main villain in the Hollywood film The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo . This initiated his career in Hollywood though it did not really take off in a big way.

His list of Hollywood flicks include the drama Eastside (1999) , the action adventure Tail Sting (2001) , a DVD film Panic (2001), the crime thriller Beeper (2002) and the treasure hunt movie In the Shadow of the Cobra (2004). If Aishwarya can claim that her Jagmohan Mundhra directed film Provoked is Hollywood material, Gulshan definitely can include his Monsoon (2001) as one, which too, was directed by Mundhra. Though the film met with appalling reviews, Gulshan somehow got noticed.

His forth-coming films include William Carrol's Marigold (starring Salman Khan), Jagmohan Mundhra's Backwaters, Blind Ambition and Sweet Amerika . There were strong rumors that he was to be the main villain in the latest James Bond movie Casino Royale but no confirmation came from Gullu .

Naseeruddin Shah and he were both battling it out for the role of Captain Nemo in the Sean Connery film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen which finally went to the former.

Shashi Kapoor

We all know who Shashi Kapoor is. The youngest brother of Raj Kapoor created a niche for himself in films like Deewaar (1975), Suhaag (1979) and Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) to name a few.

But not many might be aware that Shashi Kapoor has done a lot of films outside India. And many of them before he turned a commercial Hindi film star! His association abroad started with one of the earliest Ismail Merchant-James Ivory collaboration with The Householders (1963). He subsequently went onto work with the duo in films like Shakespeare-Wallah (1965), Bombay Talkie with his wife Jennifer (1970), Heat and Dust (1983) and In Custody (1993). Kapoor says that Merchant-Ivory films deserve to be seen more than once. And a complex film like Heat and Dust reveals more and more with each viewing.

Shashi also did a few films outside the Ivory-Merchant camp like the UK film Pretty Polly (1967), the comedy flick Sammie and Rosie Get Laid (1987), the Indo-Brit adventure drama The Deceivers (1988) and the Hollywood film Side Streets (1998). All of these films had him in an important role rather than a small walk-on part.

He also donned the role of the narrator in the Brit-Pak film Jinnah (1998).

He made an appearance in the TV version of Gulliver's Travels in 1996.

His films Bombay Talkie and Heat and Dust have been released on DVD in the Criterion Collection.

Victor Banerjee

All you mere mortals might remember Victor Banerjee in recent films like Jogger's Park and Bhoot (both 2003). But how many of us can name some of the films of one of the most talented international Indian actors today? Banerjee started out in films with none other than Satyajit Ray with his Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977). A favorite of Shyam Benegal, Banerjee looked westward with the British TV film Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures (1978) directed by James Ivory of the Ivory-Merchant duo. He then acted in the German film Jaipur Junction (1982) with Neena Gupta but his most memorable international film would be the U.S.- Brit film A Passage to India (1984) where he dons the role of Dr. Aziz who is accused of molesting a British woman.

He followed it up with Foreign Body (1986), a hilarious laugh riot. Another of his big film would include the Roman Polanski directed Hugh Grant starrer Bitter Moon (1992). He has also done some television shows as well including True Adventures of Christopher Columbus (UK) and a few more television films like Dadah Is Death (1988) and Bradford Riots (2006).

He was also cast in the role of Jesus by director Stephen Pimlott in the 1988 production of the York Mystery Plays .

Amrish Puri

On January 12, 2005, India lost probably its best on-screen villain. Amrish Puri remembered for his role of Mogambo in Mr. India (1987) enacted all his roles with elan outdoing himself with every new film. Amrish Puri started his film career with Dev Anand's Prem Pujari (1970).

His first international stint was in the Indo-British mega film Gandhi (1982) directed by Richard Attenborough where he had a small role. His biggest international venture was Steven Speilberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) where he played the role of Mola Ram, the negative lead of the film. After that, there wasn't much work internationally but his presence in Indian cinema was at its peak. His last international film was the small budget film On Wings of Fire (2001).

Dalip Tahil

Dalip Tahil has been playing character artist roles since a long time now. But one can say that justice has not been done in his favor. Right from playing Aamir Khan's understanding father in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) to the comical evil father in Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), his performance was always appreciated even though it may have been side-lined.

Like a lot of other actors, his international career began with Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982). He had a few miniscule roles in The Perfect Murder (1988) and The Deceivers (1988) - both Indo-Brit collaborations. He has one more film under production currently titled Good Sharma . Tahil has also made appearances in the popular British TV show The East Enders where he plays the role of Dan Ferreira .

Before being a part of The EastEnders , Tahil came to U.K. to act in Bombay Dreams.

He was accused by the UK Immigration Office of working illegally in the UK.

Om Puri

Hordes and hordes of International film for the veteran Om Puri. If Gandhi (1982) started his global stint, it was Roland Joffe's City of Joy (1992) and Damien O'Donnel's East is East (1999) which bought him in worldwide reckoning. His other performances abroad include Deepa Mehta's Sam and Me (Canada, 1991), Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer, Brothers in Trouble (1995), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) with Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer, The Brit-French film My Son the Fanatic (1997), The Parole Officer (2001), Happy Now (2001), The Zookeeper (2001), Ismail Merchant's Mystic Masseur (2001) and Code 46 (2003). Phew! That's a long list.

Apart from this he has done a lot of special appearance on British television as well. Om Puri is definitely one personality who contributed in bringing Indian actors into the limelight internationally.

Though he is an Indian Citizen he was officially honored as Officer of the Order of the British Empire, OBE (Honorary) in 2004 for services to The British Film Industry.


Now this might come as a surprise to you but our very own South super-star Rajnikanth also acted in a Hollywood film. Now, his not so conventional looks may not earn him a Mr. World title but he did make his presence felt in Bloodstone (1988). The movie was one of those good forgotten action films of the 80's on the lines of Indiana Jones . Rajnikanth though not the main lead had a very good supporting role of which his actions lead to the proceedings. This one is definitely a DVD pick-up for all Rajni fans.

Shabana Azmi

The only woman to appear in the list made her acting debut in Parinay way back in 1974. Decades and a few hundred films later Shabana made her foray into the international market with two films in 1988. The first was the Hugh Grant starrer French-British production La Nuit Bengali (1988) and the second was Madame Sousatzka . She played a Bengali woman in both films.

In 1992 she again featured in two movies, Immaculate Conception and City of Joy with Patrick Swayze and Om Puri. She also acted in the Ivory-Merchant film In Custody (1993) as well as the comedy film The Son of the Pink Panther the same year. Side Streets (US, 1998) and Waterborne (US, 2005) were her other international films.

Kabir Bedi

Now when we are talking international - US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, even Trinidad & Tobago - Kabir Bedi has done it all. The total international Indian star has acted in top movies abroad as well as in TV shows.

How many of us know that he had a commendable role in the James Bond flick Octopussy (1983). His Italian films include Il Corsaro Nero (1976), La Tigre è ancora viva: Sandokan alla riscossa! (1977), Beyond Justice (1992) and A/R andata+ritorno (2004). His Hollywood films include 40 Days of Musa Dagh (1982), Satan's Mistress (1982), Terminal Entry (1986), Escuadrón (US, Mexico, Spain, 1987).

He has also made note-worthy appearances in TV shows like Knight Rider starring David Hasselhoff, Dynasty, Murder she wrote and The Bold and The Beautiful .

Naseeruddin Shah

What can one say about Naseeruddin Shah? A versatile actor with a flair of flamboyance in all his performances. Though he hasn't had a lot of foreign films under his belt, some of his performances and roles have been no less of a fine show. His most significant role would be that of Captain Nemo in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). Sharing the screen with none other than ex-James Bond Sean Connery, his role was portrayed with splendor.

His first international film; however was the comedy action thriller The Perfect Murder (1988). He went onto do a British film Electric Moon (1992), and then the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Monsoon Wedding (2001). Last year he did a festival film based on 9/11 titled The Great New Wonderful sharing the frame with Tony Shaloub. His next international release will be Pan Nalin's Valley of Flowers having producers from India, France, Germany and Japan.

He did the French TV version of Hamlet in 2002.

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