Discussion Post: What Actors from Western Industries Would Have a Better Career in India and Vice Versa?

This may not make sense to anyone else, but I find it a fascinating though experiment, so I will just shout into the ether and see if anyone picks it up.

You know who would have had an amazing career in American superhero movies? Sidharth Malhotra! He’s traditionally handsome, tall, and has a kind of charming casual onscreen presence that would make for a great superhero. Picture him as Superman, shy glasses wearing Clark Kent afraid of fast talking Lois Lane, versus action hero superhero type who doesn’t like to stay to be thanked. It’s perfect! Far better fit for him than Indian films, where he needs to do more deep emotional acting, and dialogue, and dancing, and stuff.

Sidharth Malhotra gets trolled over his tweet promoting A ...
A Gentleman essentially was an American superhero movie, and he was great in it!

On the other hand, Channing Tatum! Why couldn’t he have been in the Hindi industry instead of the West? Great dancer, charming, good with comedy and emotion and action, a perfect Masala style star. And just a charming person in real life, would handle the whole fan madness and networking and things perfectly. Even married young to a fellow industry person, just like everyone else.

Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum finalize 'official parenting ...
I refuse to acknowledge their divorce, in my head they are married forever and ever.

Okay, those are my two examples, can you think of anyone similar? Where you watch them and think “oh, I wish I could cast you in a film from the other industry”?

36 thoughts on “Discussion Post: What Actors from Western Industries Would Have a Better Career in India and Vice Versa?

  1. I watched Shakuntala Devi last night. The daughter, Sanya Malholtra kept reminding me of someone, and I finally figured out who! She strongly resembled Anna Kendrick as Anu – perhaps because of the straightened hair? Her smile really seems similar. I could totally see Anna Kendrick rocking Bollywood.
    Hrithik could make it in Hollywood in 2 seconds. He’s got that pretty, kinda metrosexual vibe that plays well these days.

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    • YES! Oh my gosh you are so right! Thank you, I spent that whole movie trying to figure out who she reminded me of, and that’s it. I think Sanya would do great in Hollywood too, she’s got a cool girl off beat vibe that would be a nice fit for a funky young sitcom, or a bunch of Indie sort of movies, with maybe a crossover to something big budget.

      And yes, Anna Kendrick would be good in India. Short, that’s important, and good dancer and singer.

      My only concern with Hrithik is that his dancing is his strongest skill by far and he couldn’t really dance in America. He’d end up like Channing Tatum, a few dance films thrown in with a bunch of Serious Dramas that don’t highlight his skills.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 12:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I was about to admit defeat on this one. And then I remembered the birthday boy. Just as a thought experiment: How would Sean Connery have fared in Hindi film? I think the young action hero would have transferred seamlessly. And I feel like he has enough raw star power that it would have carried him along into cool old guy roles regardless of which industry he worked in. Checked his dancing on YouTube: He at least knows how to tango. Don’t know whether this should be counted as a pro or a con:

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  3. For an Indian actor to do well in Hollywood you need to fit a couple of criteria. The first is English. They not only want actors fluent in English, but specifically fluent in modern/casual American English and they want an actor with a neutral accent. The second is looks. You need actors who are unbelievably good looking and sexy. While Hollywood is certainly improving, there is no doubt it still loves to objectify the “exotic.” The last is popularity in your home country. For Americans to want to spend money on a foreign actor in a significant role, they would want an actor that can bring in money. You have to be a superstar first in your home country before you can transition to Hollywood. Priyanka Chopra excelled in the first two, but the sort of faltered in the last one. Priyanka came right as her career was about to decline. So they thought they were getting a superstar, but not really. I think the best option would have to be Alia.

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    • I like your idea of Alia, but for totally different reasons. She has a youthful face, so she can play ingenue roles for a really long time which is basically all American actresses are allowed to play. She can do both the mainstream “girlfriend” kind of roles, and the interesting indie film festival parts. She can do comedy and a little bit of drama. So very well designed to be a Kirsten Dunst/Maggie Gyllenhall/Jennifer Lawrence kind of actress.

      Now, let me slightly rephrase my question. Imagine one of our current Indian actors was born in America to a family that could pass for white. Or, a current American actor was born in India to a desi family. So, no language or cultural issues or any of that, just their inborn talents. Who might have an array of talents to do better in America versus India, or vice versa?

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 4:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh! Now I’m embarrassed. I completely misunderstood the question. OK well right now the most popular genre in Hollywood is the superhero genre. SO we need actors that can pass off as superheroes. Not action heroes, but superheroes.I’d say Sidharth and Priyanka

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        • I could see Priyanka as a superhero cameo, but I’m not sure she has the gravitas crossed with charm to pull it off for a whole movie. What about Taapsee as a superhero? Oh, I would LOVE that! A tough unconventional superhero who doesn’t always get along with people in “real life” but is still a hero.

          On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 7:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I think Randeep Hooda could be successful in Hollywood. He can be handsome or not, he is good actor and has this touch of outlandishness of the person who is some way not from our world – something that reminds the same in Heath Ledger.
    From the Hollywood honestly for me Vin Diesel already is bollywood actor, and he even like to dance:)
    And I’m sure that Christofer Walken could make a great villain career in Bollywood but I prefer there he is now:)

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    • YES Vin Diesel! I think he and Salman Khan would get along like a house on fire. Incredibly loyal friends, kind of a simple straightforward approach to life and relationships, great screen presence that lets him pretty much always just play himself, and a sense of what his fans want and readiness to give them that over and over again.

      Just throwing this out there, ABCD4, Christopher Walken is the evil coach of the American team, Prabhudeva is the coach of the upstart Indian American team, at some point the two coaches have a dance off.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 5:34 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I could see a young Kamal in Hollywood. For some reason, I feel like he would have have been very much in the grain of James Franco (minus the Me Too allegations) – showing up in the occasional big film like Planet of the Apes or comedy but a lot of smaller projects that very much focus on James Franco the “Artist”.

    I did also immediately think of Hrithik when I saw this post. I think its mostly because of how he looks. Its very translatable to Hollywood. You’re right though – I’m not sure that he would necessarily have had a better career there.

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    • Hrithik is so handsome, I could see him getting his first breaks very easily, but his shyness and insecurity and all those things that his family connections and friendships helped him get passed in India, I see shooting him in the foot in America. Unless in this imaginary world he is both born in America and tries an American career, and also happens to have a female childhood best friend Zoya-type to bring him out of his shell and give him amazing roles that prove he can act.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 6:31 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I can’t see Hrithik ever making it in the US. He doesn’t have the personality needed to climb up the ladder, nor the zeal and perseverance for it. He was lucky to have a whole family in the industry to turn him into a star in India. Looks alone are meaningless – in that case every soap opera hunk and half the waiters in LA would fit the bill. His dancing talent would also be irrelevant.

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        • In Hrithik’s case, I feel like the greater society really benefited from the family structure of the Indian film industry. His shyness and so on would have made it impossible for him to survive on his own. But his dancing talent, and acting in most roles, is really remarkable. Not to mention is onscreen charisma. In America without the family style film industry, he would have been crushed in his first few auditions and gone on to be a software engineer who really likes to dance at the company parties.

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  6. I think Madhubala could have made it in the West…she has the classical beauty, grace, and screen presence that could work in Mughal-e-Azam AND Gone with the Wind…
    And for the opposite…I think Kim Kardashian could be a Bollywood star any day…she has exactly what it takes…social networking smarts, shrewd PR skills, screen presence, great body, and the willingness to do silly random things for the camera…she could easily be the next big Salman Khan/Akshay Kumar/Rohit Shetty heroine!

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    • Kim Kardashian and Kangana Ranaut in a massive PR battle would be my everything.

      Agree about Madhubala! She was an amazing screen presence above all, and that works in any film industry.

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  7. I think Anushka Sharma could do well with an American Meryl Streep style career. She wasn’t a great actress at the beginning, but she’s one of the best now. And even though she can dance, straight acting seems to be her strength. And if we were to go back in time, a young Val Kilmer would have done great Masala. And he can sing and dance.

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    • I would love to see Anushka in Hollywood as a producer/actress. Someone like Jennifer Lopez who does big famous stuff and quietly produces The Fosters and other high quality TV shows. She is killing it as a producer in India, but she could be doing so much more. In America, I could see a whole Anushka production empire, high quality limited serieses, big budget movies, indie darlings, everything. And she could do cameos or star or whatever she wanted in any of the projects.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 9:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. Hugh Jackman is basically the perfect masala actor.

    I’m a big Zoe Saldana fan, I think she could kill it in Bollywood. She has a knack for bringing depth and power to ingenue and action roles. And she’s amazing looking and apparently has dance training too.

    Vidya Balan stands out as someone who could have had more roles that played to her strengths in a Hollywood style career. I feel like Tabu could have had some really great scripts and roles as well, less time wasted on cookie cutter parts.

    How about Fawad for Hollywood? Looks, acting chops, star charisma. And at least we’d get to see more of him.

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      • Yeah, but she doesn’t want it. She got a lot of notice for The Namesake and then happily went back to her India life. I think Deepika has definitely made the same choice now. It’s hard trying to make it far away from home, sometimes people just don’t want it.

        On Wed, Aug 26, 2020 at 1:08 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • First, my Hugh Jackman/SRK fanfic. Hugh is himself (only gay and single) and convinced by go getter producer SRK to come to India and try a new career in Hindi films. And then they fall in love and there is a proposal in a FilmFare acceptance speech: https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2019/10/06/silly-sunday-the-gay-love-scenes-missing-from-war-and-bonus-hugh-jackman-shahrukh-musical-romance/

      Oh, yes! I want Zoe Saldana in India too! She could have wormed her way into the heart of the public through great supporting roles and dance scenes. Probably easier for her than in America, where love interest type parts have less of a chance to make an impact.

      I’m honestly not sure about Vidya. It doesn’t seem like any industry is great for a slightly non-traditional looking very talented late 30s actress. Although, if we moved her whole life, that could work. She’s married to a powerful producer type, I’m thinking like Frances McDormand who will always have good roles because she is married to a Coen brother. Vidya married to a non-famous but respected and powerful producer who quietly finds her projects to keep winning awards in Hollywood, that could be great.

      On Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 11:53 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Hugh Jackman was the first one I thought of. He’d be perfect as a BW movie star. Amongst the women, Angelina Jolie of course. The one thing Indian cinema really needs is blazing star power and charisma. Hollywood has totally lost that. The era of Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and George Clooney was probably the last one that had real stars. Now it’s just random generic actors in superhero movies.
    In today’s HW, Alia is probably the one that could make it. She has generic attractive looks that work everywhere and she’s a good basic actress. She’s not the type that attracts huge attention but she’s not a turn-off either. Priyanka seems more like a Kardashian and not a real actress.

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    • Agree about Alia. Good standard looks, good actress, won’t rock the boat. Can fit into any role.

      I would love Angelina Jolie in Indian film!!!! She and Sushmita Sen would be best friends.

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  10. Hrithik in Hollywood – if he was born here into an industry family he would do okay, but he wouldn’t be a super star unless he had some huge break. Without the big break he would probably end up being sent the parts Bradley Cooper or Keanu Reeves wouldn’t take. He’d make a living. NOW that said, I think with the right director (with him it’s the director drawing him out and reminding him he’s actually a good actor) I think he would do great in British film, which is less averse to tender emotional heroes than American film is.

    Bruce Willis – hear me out! He can do fun campy stuff but he can also do Big Serious Action Movie stuff, and he has the same kind of earnest, tired, sexy face that made people like Amitabh and SRK into household names. He also has the work ethic to get stuff done. And he could probably be convinced to dance!

    Luke Evans – again, here me out! Did you know he’s been open and candid about being gay for like…his whole career? I sure didn’t until like six months ago. He controls his public persona super well without it ever feeling reclusive or weird, which means I think he could continue to manage it in India (maybe I’m wrong). But he could easily be up there with Saif Ali Khan in the older set, or with Tiger Shroff in the younger set.

    Lily Collins – She’d do well because she takes projects that play to the rom-com set, the dramedy set, as well as taking on very serious and dark projects. Plus she sort of looks like Rekha….

    Speaking of Rekha — I know she’s done fine, but imagine her coming up alongside Michelle Pfieffer, Madonna, and Meryl Streep???

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    • I like the idea of Hrithik in British films, and the British industry in general. If he could be part of that little BBC actors crowd, work in projects and with people where he could really be comfortable, and occasionally appear in something international that makes people go “wow, he is HOT”, I think he could be very happy.

      Yes absolutely Bruce Willis! Everyone forgets it now, but he started out in rom-coms (Moonlighting) before he moved into action. He can cross between them very easily, like a bald Akshay Kumar.

      Luke Evans is like the opposite Hrithik. He’s got the lowkey protected interesting variety of projects British career that could make Hrithik happy. They should just trade places, Luke Evans can be super famous and successful in India while keeping his personal life private, and Hrithik can go to England and have a nice little anonymous life and work 9 to 5 between dropping his kids off and picking them up after school.

      I now want Lilly Collins in a young Rekha biopic.

      Rekha and Anjelica Huston are the ones that feel similar to me. Big big splash in the 80s, and now just sort of famous for being famous with the occasional extremely good one off role.

      On Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 11:17 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Hrithik & Luke – I think they should switch, immediately!
        Bruce – can we replace Akshay with him?
        Lily – I’m so glad you see it!!
        Rekha – Yeah…actually now that I think about it you’re right, they even look similar as mature women in their 40s and 50s.

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