Miss India And Love Aaj Kal

December 12, 2011 by staff 

Miss India And Love Aaj Kal, The Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was born in Denmark. AFP, Kaleem Aftab looks at why there are so many non-Indian Bollywood actresses

The director Imtiaz Ali seems to have a habit of choosing leading ladies born outside of India. His latest film, Rockstar, stars Nargis Fakhri, a New York model with a Pakistani father and Czech mother. In his movie Love Aaj Kal, released in 2009, he gave the Brazilian actress Giselli Monteiro a leading role.

Whereas Fakhri had to learn Hindi once she was given the part in Rockstar, Monteiro in Love Aaj Kal had to have her lines dubbed, which seemed to suggest employing foreign stars was some kind of novelty. But in Bollywood, at least where actresses are concerned, nothing sets you up better for being a star than having been born on foreign shores.

Arguably the most popular actress in Bollywood right now is Katrina Kaif. The 27-year-old star of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Singh is Kinng is the most-searched for Bollywood star on Google. Born in Hong Kong, the actress has an English mother and Indian father. She was first discovered as a 14-year-old while living in Hawaii, where she began her modelling career. She continued working as a model in London as well. Branching out as an actress was difficult at first, due to her weak command of Hindi.

Modelling is the occupation that connects Monteiro, Fakhri and Kaif. One of the reasons directors like putting foreign actresses in major roles is that they are less fearful of showing skin and doing intimate scenes on film. The cultural constraints that inhibit actresses born in India do not apply to these foreign imports. Historically, foreign stars were given only minor roles, but now they have moved centre stage. Also, the Hindu caste system always saw the entertainment industry as a job that is the preserve of the lower caste and this has always been given as an explanation for the large number of Muslim stars in Bollywood cinema. Yet to just put it down to a willingness to exhibit oneself in front of a camera misses other, more salient reasons as to why directors like to employ foreign actors. Bollywood, like Hollywood, is essentially a business and the producers in both industries have realised that it pays handsomely to create a product for a global audience. For one thing, this brings in audiences from other countries, but mostly, it helps bring in finance.

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