Mindy Kaling who plays one of the leads in this season’s Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s 8 is actually Vera Mindy Chokalingam, an Indian born in America whose father is Tamil and mother is Bengali.
Mindy who was also seen in a pivotal role in last year’ Disney fiasco, A Wrinkle In Time, has done some noticeable work on American television. But Ocean’s 8 is her first real big break. She plays one of the protagonists alongside such stalwarts as Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchette and Rihanna.
This is indeed a turning point for Asian actors in America, what with cultural inclusion being the operative mantra in Hollywood cinema. Last month another Indian of American origin Karan Soni played Ryan Reynolds’sidekick Dopinder in Deadpool 2. Soni is expected to be one of the leads in the next Deadpool movie.
While Karan Soni’s accent and demeanour in Deadpool 2 were caricatural, Mindy Kaling playing the Punjabi heist-perpetrator Amita in Ocean’s 8 is given no cultural quirks and speech eccentricities. Mindy had to learn Hindi for a scene with her screen mother. But that apart, her cultural identity was not allowed to make any difference to her role and her function in the plot.
Indians and Asians can now stop playing cab drivers with singsong accents.
Anupam Kher who has been part of several major Hollywood films thinks this is the best time to be an Indian actor. “The world is looking at us and not as singing dancing eccentric people. It’s time for Indian and other Asian actors to be a part of global cinema.”