India currently has the second largest population in the world. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that some of its actors are known around the world, as well as in Hollywood. But that is also because India has a very strong cinematic culture, thanks to what is known internationally as Bollywood. But it goes much deeper, as great audio-visual productions are being filmed all around India. Here are some of the most famous Indian actors that have made it to America.
Going to Hollywood
Most of the actors below have started their career in India, and then appeared in Hollywood movies. Some names are more famous than others, but you are bound to recognize a few of them.
Om Puri was born in Ambala, Haryana. He comes from a working class, with a father who worked on railways and also served in the Indian Army. He started his career playing in artsy films as well as mainstream ones, in India. Later on, he went to play in movies all over the world, with many of them being Pakistani and British films. He has received an honorary OBE.
His most famous roles are in: Gandhi by Richard Attenborough, Charlie Wilson’s War by Mike Nichols, the City of Joy by Roland Joffé, Code 46 by Michael Winterbottom and popular British comedy East Is East by Damien O’Donnell. He is also known for the Hundred-Foot Journey by Lasse Hallström, where he played with Helen Mirren.
Freida did not start her movie career in Bollywood. Born from the union of a school principal (mother) and a bank manager (father), in Bombay, She went through the model circuit for many years before playing in her biggest role still today (and her first one): Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle.
Her (other) most famous roles are in: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger by Woody Allen, Rise of the Planet of Apes, and Immortals.
Born in 1967, to a Pashto speaking Muslim family, Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan (full name) had already an important family name before getting into cinema, which is quite important in India. His father ran a tire business in the Tonk district. He is as well known in America as in India, since he has been part in as many films in Hollywood, as in Bollywood.
His most famous roles are in: The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra, Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle and Jurassic World. He also played in Inferno with Tom Hanks.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Like Freida Pinto, Aishwarya did not start her career in cinema, but as a model. It is her presence in commercials for large international firms that really got her known. Clips for Garden Sari and Pepsi, plus being Miss India 1994 runner-up, and then Miss World, placed her in the limelight, which then brought her to cinema.
Her most famous roles are in: The Mistress of Spices, The Pink Panther 2, The Last Legion and Bride & Prejudice.
Before becoming the extremely well-known actor that he is today, Anil was a loner who did not have many friends. He was the oldest of a family of three with one sister and one brother. He lived in a Chawl in Tilak Nagar. He is a superstar in India and also plays roles in America.
His most famous roles are in: “24” (TV show) and Slumdog Millionaire by Danny Boyle.
Anupam is not only an actor, but also a movie producer. He was born in India on March 7, 1955, in Shimla. He became famous in America thanks to his roles in Bend it Like Beckham. In 2011, he played his 500th role in The Big Slick.
His (other) most famous roles are in: Silver Linings Playbook (2012), Happiness Therapy (2012), A Wednesday (2008) and M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016).
Deepika was born to Indian parents. However, she is also Danish, since she was born in Copenhagen in 1986. The daughter of a badminton champion, she was first a model, like many actresses from India. She is particularly popular in Bollywood, but she did play in Hollywood, alongside Vin Diesel in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage.
Her (other) most famous roles are in: Yeh Jawaani Hai, Chennai Express and Padmavati.
Priyanka is one of the most famous Bollywood stars, and she keeps growing in popularity in Hollywood as well. She won an IIFA and Filmfare awards, among others.
Her most famous roles are in: Quantico (TV show), Baywatch and Scoundrel (Kaminey).
Gulshan was destined for business, studying Commerce, in which he received a master’s degree. Life took him on a completely different journey and made him one of the most famous villains in Bollywood as well as in Hollywood.
His most famous roles are in: The Second Jungle Book, Prisoners of the Sun, Blind Ambition, and My Bollywood Bride.
Even if he comes last on our list, Naseeruddin is one of the most popular actors in Bollywood. He has also made his name in Hollywood.
His most famous roles are in: The Great New Wonderful and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.