Priyanka Chopra has been breaking glass ceilings with her entry into American TV with Quantico. Being the first Indian to play the lead in an American prime-time show, she has made headlines with every move that followed, be it her red carpet appearances at the Oscars or Emmys, getting picked for Baywatch, or participating in the wing-eating contest with Jimmy Fallon.
She may be the most popular, but she is definitely not the only person of Indian origin who is making a breakthrough in American television. Aziz Ansari, who was seen in Parks and Recreation, Mindy Kaling from The Mindy Project, Naveen Andrews from Lost, Indira Verma from Game of Thrones, Archie Panjabi from The Good Wife, Dev Patel from The Newsroom, Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory, are all actors of Indian descent, even if they are not technically Indians. As for actors who are residents of India, there’s no shortage of those on TV either. Take a look:
You may remember her as Sunaina from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, in which she plays a call center worker and befriends the character of Judi Dench. Desai plays one of the eight main characters in the sci-fi series Sense8; she's seen as an Indian girl who is a part of a mental and emotional connection with seven other people around the world. While that sounds fairly complicated, Desai’s character on the show is pretty simple.
American TV shows no longer have white people play non-white characters. That is why when Tina Desai’s character in Sense8 needed a father, the role went to popular actor Anupam Kher. He is seen in many Bollywood as well as Hollywood movies, and thus his role in the sci-fi series is seen as no big deal. However, this is not the first time Kher has appeared on American television. In 2004, he was seen with wife Kirron Kher in the medical drama ER.
Another famous Indian to appear on Sense8 is Purab Kohli, who plays the character of Tina Desai’s fiancé. Kohli added a desi flavor to his performance on the show when he danced to ‘Tujh Me Rab Dikhta Hai’ for his engagement party. It was cheesy, romantic and every bit Indian. Watch the video here:
One of the most underrated actors in India, Kaur was seen in movies like Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana and Airlift, in which she played the lead opposite Akshay Kumar. Her performance in The Lunchbox was critically acclaimed and even got her an IIFA nomination for Best Actress. She entered television with the popular political thriller show Homeland, where she played a recurring character in Season 4. She is also seen in the sci-fi series Wayward Pines.
He was first seen as Pi Patel in the 2012 Oscar-nominated film, Life of Pi. Later, he also played one of the main characters in the Jon Hamm-starrer Million Dollar Arm. Sharma made his entry into television with Homeland, in which he played a Pakistani student and nephew of a terrorist. He is set to make his Bollywood debut next year, with the release of Phillauri, in which he stars opposite Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh.
The most famous Kapoor of the second most famous Kapoor family made his international debut with Slumdog Millionaire. In television, he is currently playing the lead role in the Indian version of 24, but he was also a series regular in the American series of the same name. Additionally, he has appeared as himself in an episode of Family Guy, in which he is the host of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’.
Son of popular actor Vinod Khanna, and brother of Akshaye Khanna, Rahul has not been seen in many Bollywood movies. He made his debut with Deepa Mehta’s Earth, for which he won the Best Male Debut Award at Filmfare. His breakthrough on American television happened with the period drama series, The Americans, in which he has made a guest appearance as Yousaf Rana in six episodes.