The Casting Couch

The Casting Couch

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Indian-Americans Hit Their Prime!

Primetime, that is. Looking over the cast lists for the upcoming series, I couldn't help but notice an increase of Indian-American actors in starring and major supporting roles in Primetime Network Television Shows. I think this is a huge step in moving away from token diverse characters and really acknowledging the abilities and depth a diverse actor can bring to a character. Ethnicity aside, its about the creation of a person who the audience can relate to and be entertained by during their time on the screen. Indian-American actors have been making huge strides on American television shows, showing up all over in a wide variety of important roles. While Indian culture is known for being rich in Entertainment (Bollywood), I'm excited that American culture is finally about to integrate their ever-present talents in the mainstream. Those Indian-American talents that are at the forefront of this transformation are listed below:

Parminder Nagra
Parminder stole the hearts of American movie-goers in 2002 with the indie hit Bend It Like Beckham, which was the first major movie to put Indian culture at the forefront of a western film. Her next big starring role was saving lives as Dr. Rasgotra on NBC's hit series "ER."

Sendhil Ramamurthy
Sendhil proved that Indian-American actors can be totally sexy as the smart professor Mohinder Suresh in NBC's latest hit "HEROES." While the role was originally written as a 60-year-old man, once the casting directors saw Sendhil, he popped so much that they reworked the part just for him.

Mindy Kaling
One of the geniuses behind NBC's "The Office," Mindy is phenomenal as ditzy, talkative, and romance-obsessed Kelly. While Indian-Americans are often stereotyped as either nerdy doctor/scientist types or convenience store owners, Mindy proves that they are no different from the rest of us; afterall, a true valley girl can come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Padma Lakshmi
Padma is the face of Bravo's hit series "Top Chef." Aside from the host spot on this popular series, the gorgeous model and actress has also written a popular cookbook entitled "Easy Exotic: A Model's Low-fat Recipes From Around The World."

Maulik Pancholy
Maulik plays the obedient assistant of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on NBC's critically acclaimed series "30 Rock." It appears as though his character might have a man-crush on his boss, which adds some depth and comedy. Maulik has a whole slew of film projects coming up soon also.

Navi Rawat
Of both Indian and German descent, Navi is best recognized as the pregnant home-wrecking ex-girlfriend of Ryan Atwood on Fox's "The OC." These days she's landed herself a starring role on CBS's "Numb3rs" as brilliant mathematician and FBI Consultant Amita, proving that you can be young, sexy, and a genius all at once.

Kal Penn
Kal is perhaps one of the most recognizable Indian-American comedic actors, starring in feature hits Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Van Wilder. He's now hitting the primetime tv circuit as a series regular on Fox's hit "House," where he plays a young doctor under Hugh Laurie's title character.

Sunkrish Bala
Sunkrish stars as one of the title characters on ABC's midseason sitcom "Notes from the Underbelly," which was recently renewed for a second season. He plays the dutiful young husband to his pregnant wife.

Ravi Kapoor
Ravi plays Dr. Bug on NBC's series "Crossing Jordan." He began his role as the brilliant but shy forensic entomologist and has developed the role into a full blown love interest for another title character, showing the more human relationship sides to his scientific character.

Indira Varma
Indira played devoted Niobe on HBO's hit series "ROME" until her suicide at the end of the first season. She also starred in the short-lived CBS drama "3 lbs" until its premature cancellation.

Dilshad Vadsaria
Dilshad plays the cold priviledged freshman sorority pledge in ABC Family series "Greek." A senator's daughter, her character makes a nice rival to the sorority princess Casey.

The New Class:

Adhir Kalyan as title role of Pakistani Muslim exchange student Raja Musharaff in the CW's half-hour sitcom "Aliens in America"

Kunal Nayyar as Koothrappali, one of the pack of science geeks that befriend the gorgeous young woman living next door in CBS's comedy "The Big Bang Theory"

Vik Sahay as Victor, one of the major supporting roles in NBC's upcoming series from Josh Schwartz "Chuck"

And some other up-and-comers to keep your eye out for in the feature and television worlds:

Noureen DeWulf, Samrat Chakrabarti, Kavi Ladnier, Sheetal Sheth


Anonymous said...

I am hearing some great things about the Fall show called The Big Bang Theory on Mondays on CBS. The critics love it and think it is
very,very funny. Everyone who has seen the pilot loves it.See Kunal Nayyar in this show.

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Fia said...

I found this post Googling for information on the Canadian actor, Vik Sahay, and while I, too, am pleased with the growing diversity on American television, I feel I should point out to you that Ravi Kapoor, Parminder Nagra and Indira Varma are English. Padma Lakshmi and Sunkrish Bala are actually from India. Dilsad Vadsaria, while of Indian descent, is from Pakistan, and Adhir Kalyan grew up in South Africa. Calling them all "Indian-American" may or may not be insulting to the actors, but it is most certainly inaccurate.

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