Indian Inferiority Complex: From Govinda to Neil Nitin Mukesh, we still reject Indian actors in Hollywood roles
Govinda apparently refused James Cameron's 'Avatar'. We're glad because now, we can't mock him mercilessly, like we do Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Aishwarya Rai.
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Back in 2015, right before the release of Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, an interview of Neil Nitin Mukesh in a leading Mumbai tabloid had everyone rubbing their eyes in disbelief at what they had just read.
It had Neil confirm that he was apparently in talks with the makers of the recently concluded show, Game Of Thrones (GoT), to appear in one of the episodes — he had reportedly impressed the stunt director of the GoT series, Greg Powell, who offered him a part.
In a video interview with an entertainment portal later, Neil reiterated this.
Within a week, however, HBO confirmed that Neil was never offered a role.
Frankly speaking, it was GoT’s loss.
Neil would have made a good Daario Naharis.
That didn't stop the dismissive jeers and cackles though.
Seriously, GoT. Why didn't you cast Neil? (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
Four years later, our jaws dropped similarly when we heard that Govinda was apparently offered a role in James Cameron’s Avatar — but he refused it because he was expected to shoot for “410 days” and because it required getting “painted all over the body”!
Naysayers all around have already written Govinda off, implying that the currently out-of-work actor said this to make headlines. James Cameron could not have offered him a role — that too, of Jake Sully.
But why not?
No one seems to point out that it's odd how a man known for his colour fetish refused a role that required body painting. As I see it, that doesn't fully ring true, not being offered a role in Avatar and refusing it.
Why is it so difficult for us to accept that an Indian actor could have made it to Avatar? (Photo: Avatar movie still/Twitter)
While we wait for Cameron to shed light on this matter, let's for a moment consider the (albeit remote) possibility that Govinda had agreed — or that Neil was cast in the HBO drama.
Would it hurt us Indians to admit that we are good?
Would our ingrained inferiority complex — the one that leads us to criticise every Hollywood remake, even before they see light of day — that's conditioned us to believe we're less, no matter what, ever stop?
Sure, it is easy to see through such outrageous statements. Game Of Thrones and Avatar — gosh, what were they thinking?! But it is not as if the actors who did 'make it' abroad had it any different. Priyanka Chopra was criticised for her 'put on' accent in Quantico — completely dismissing the fact that she had landed the lead role in an ABC show that ran moderately successfully for three seasons. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone was called out for her 'Indian' accent in xXx: Return of Xander Cage. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was mocked for her insignificant role in Pink Panther 2, as was PeeCee for her blink-and-miss role in Baywatch.
The ones who made it weren't spared either. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)
If Govinda did refuse that role in Avatar, he actually did himself a favour.
Now, his statement might turn into a meme — like Neil's statement did — but at least he managed to defend himself from endless criticism afterwards. Like PeeCee battles — and thankfully wins — every step of the way. Still.