When the seventh instalment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise was announced in 2013, there were rumours about Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor having been approached for the action-thriller. The buzz eventually petered out as the fresh-faced Ali Fazal landed a role in the film.
The actor, who had then been riding high on the success of ‘Fukrey’ (2013), seemed quite excited about his Hollywood debut. But as ‘Furious 7’ hit the theatres on Thursday, we saw him in a miniscule role — in just a couple of scenes post interval — although he shares screen space with the lead cast. He essays the character of Safar, a garage owner.
This brings us to this question: should Bollywood actors be more concerned about the length and weight of a role rather than the sheer excitement of being part of a Hollywood project? Ali says, “The experience and the process was far greater than the stuff you will see in the film. At first, I was a little bummed out because my race sequence with Vin Diesel got cancelled. But the project became a beautiful tribute to Paul Walker, so I am happy I could be part of it. Ever since the film released, I am surprised at the response I have been getting from all my fans here and new fans in Los Angeles. I didn’t expect it to strike a chord and stand out the way it has.”
In the past, several B-Town folk have spoken about their Hollywood outings with great pride and enthusiasm, but things have not always turned out as expected. But many of them believe that being part of a Hollywood film will propel them onto the global stage.
Bipasha Basu ventured into Hollywood films with ‘The Lovers’ (formerly called ‘Singularity’), directed by Roland Joffe, which released last month, three years after it was ready for theatres. The movie was panned by American critics. It released in the US on VOD and iTunes and in select theatres. The Bong bombshell simply retweeted what the makers had said about the film’s release. This was a far cry from the fanfare that was created about her Hollywood debut while the shoot was on. Bips was even romantically linked with co-star Josh Hartnett four years ago. Set in the backdrop of the first Anglo-Maratha war, the actress played a warrior in the period drama. From her horse riding lessons to her daredevil stunts, there was a continuous buzz about the film. Even as Bips’ rendezvous with cinegoers was delayed, news kept pouring in that it would “soon” see the light of the day. The buzz gradually died down and no wonder, the film had a quiet release.
In 2013, Neetu Chandra had lots to say about being roped in for a Hollywood film, ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins’. The film was to be directed by Joe Johnston (of ‘Jumanji’ and ‘Captain America’ fame.) The actress was said to have auditioned for the movie through Skype. It was later discovered that there was no such film as some fraudsters had conducted fake auditions online. Later, Neetu did a Greek film ‘Block 12’ and there was buzz was that she was mistaken for a Spanish actress while shooting for it. ‘Block 12’, however, could make its presence only on the festival circuit.
A tad too short
Anil Kapoor, who had a significant role in Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ (2008), went on to be a part of the international TV series, ’24’, and ‘Mission: Impossible —Ghost Protocol’ (2011) in which he had a blink-and-miss role.
While Mallika Sherawat starred alongside Jackie Chan in the 2005 film, ‘The Myth’, in a miniscule role, but her plans to go big with Hollywood fizzled out as she landed forgettable roles in films like ‘Hiss’ (2010) and ‘Politics of Love’ (2011).
In 2006, while participating in a stage musical Bombay Crush in South Africa, telly actor Gaurav Chopra landed a role in ‘Blood Diamond’ which starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. As the film was to be shot in South Africa and Mozambique, a local agent had put him on to the makers, who cast him as an Indian journalist called Sanjay. While shooting for the film, Chopra had then stated how cool and chilled Leonardo was and he thought that Gaurav was from Brazil. Jennifer, on the other hand, asked him about astrology and numerology. Gaurav was seen in just one scene.
R Madhavan grew a beard and gained the pounds for ‘Night Of The Living Dead: Origins’, produced by Simon West of ‘Con Air’ and ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ fame. It is a remake of 1968 zombie film, ‘Night Of The Living Dead’. He has reportedly said Hollywood makers feel that Indian actors grab more eyeballs which is why they are roped in. Nargis Fakhri let go of a Bollywood offer for her Hollywood debut in Paul Feig’s ‘Spy’. These two films are yet to be released.