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From Hollywood to Bollywood: Indians that made it abroad

The term Bollywood refers to mainstream Hindi cinema – formerly known as Bombay Cinema – and the genre has now firmly crossed over into the Hollywood mainstream, too, with the cultural influences of both cinema traditions bouncing off each other to form beautiful and innovative new movies that reflect the different styles and aesthetics.

This crossover can be seen clearly in the number of Indian people in the movie industry that are making it big both in their native country and across the pond in the USA, the UK, and beyond, and we take a look at the most successful of these below.

Irrfan Khan

Hailing from Jaipur, the late Irrfan Khan was an immensely popular actor both in his home country and across the world. He can be seen in Hollywood blockbusters, including The Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man, and he stars in the movie Inferno, directed by Ron Howard, which is based on bestselling author Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code.

Deepika Padukone

This actress’ career is currently at its peak in Bollywood, and she’s just taking her first steps into what will no doubt be a glittering Hollywood career, too. In terms of box office revenue and salary, Padukone is considered to be the Queen of Bollywood, and she’s just played a starring role in the Hollywood movie XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, opposite Vin Diesel.

Namit Malhotra

And it’s not all about the actors. Malhotra was behind the VFX for the movie Dune and won big at the Oscars for his work; he was awarded the prize for Best Visual Effects at the ceremony. Malhotra, originally from India, is the founder and CEO of DNEG, one of the biggest providers of visual effects in the world.

If you’re currently working on a video project for social media or the big screen, have a look here for stock footage and information on visual effects that can take your production to the next level. Who knows, maybe one day it could be your film in the running for a major accolade!

Priyanka Chopra

This actress is one of the most successful to have made the Bollywood to Hollywood crossover. She made her Hollywood debut as the lead in the tv show Quantico, which was popular in both the US and India; while filming the series, Chopra was also playing a key role in what went on to become a Bollywood blockbuster, Bajirao Mastani. The latter bagged the actress an IIFA and Filmfare award, and right now, she has several big projects in the pipeline.

Anil Kapoor

A well-known and much-loved household name in India, Kapoor has also found fame in Hollywood. The actor has a wide range of credits under his belt, including parts in the TV series 24 and a starring role in the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, which was directed by Danny Boyle.

Shekhar Kapur

Kapur is an acclaimed director who has worked on both Bollywood and Hollywood films. In India, he made his directorial debut with the cult movie Masoom in 1983, which earned him the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie of the Year. His 1994 Bollywood film, The Bandit Queen, saw him garner worldwide recognition and won the director a slew of awards.

In 1998, Kapur made the move to Hollywood, directing the critically acclaimed film Elizabeth, which was nominated for seven Oscars, and went on to work on the movie’s sequel: Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Naseeruddin Shah

Shah is widely considered to be one of India’s greatest actors, and he’s also starred in several Hollywood movies, too. His performances can be seen in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Great New Wonderful; he also stars in Monsoon Wedding, which was directed by the Indian-born director Mira Nair. This leads us neatly on to…

Mira Nair

Nair made her directorial debut with the movie Salaam Bombay! The movie earned her an Oscar nomination for the 1988 Best Foreign Language Film, and it won a raft of other international awards, including two trophies at the Cannes Film Festival of that year.

Monsoon Wedding came next, in 2000, which was released to widespread critical acclaim and collected more accolades for Nair’s exceptional directing skills. The director’s next move was to work on Hysterical Blindness, an HBO original film that starred Uma Thurman and Juliette Lewis, following which she directed the opulent Hollywood version of the Thackeray classic, Vanity Fair.

Anupam Kher

Respected in India as both a talented stage and film actor, Kher has also made the transition to Hollywood and British film; he played major roles in the comedy Bend it Like Beckham and the Oscar-winning movie Silver Linings Playbook.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

The Bollywood star and former Miss World made her Hollywood debut in the movie The Last Legion in 2007 and can also be seen starring in The Pink Panther 2 and The Mistress of Spices. Before this, she’d performed in Bollywood movies, including Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya and Devdas. She’s won two Filmfare awards to date and was also recognized with the Padma Shri in 2009.

Om Puri

Another actor that has made the leap from being a critically-acclaimed Bollywood star to a highly-regarded Hollywood one is Om Puri. His versatility and acting skills have made him a much-respected figure in India and earned him a Filmfare award. He’s also garnered plenty of praise – as well as a BAFTA –  from the UK and Hollywood film industry for his performances in movies including East is East, City of Joy, and Charlie Wilson’s War.

Gulshan Grover

Known as ‘the bad man of Bollywood,’ Grover has had a successful career across the water as he has enjoyed in his native India. The star has played roles in big-budget American films, including Prisoners of the Sun, Blind Ambition, and My Bollywood Bride.

Shabana Azmi

Azmi has worked with some of the best-regarded filmmakers in her home country of India, and her decades-spanning career has featured a multitude of critically-acclaimed roles. The actress has also starred in Hollywood movies, too – she can be seen performing in Midnight’s Children and opposite Riz Ahmed in The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Ali Fazal

And finally  – just taking his first steps into a Hollywood film career is Ali Fazal, who has previously starred in several Hindi films and TV series. He recently appeared alongside Judy Dench in the film Victoria and Abdul, as well as in the adaption of the Agatha Christie novel, Death on the Nile, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The actor has also had a role in the American mini-series Bollywood Hero.