From Dhanush to Sudeep and Napoleon, Southern actors are testing their luck in Hollywood

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Mar,06 2018 16:49:47 IST

The last popular southern actor to make his presence felt in Hollywood was superstar Rajinikanth in 1988 film Bloodstone. In case of the 67-year-old star, it was just a one-off project and he shifted his focus back on doing Tamil films. As his son-in-law Dhanush awaits the release of his maiden Hollywood project, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, slated to hit the screens worldwide in May, it is worth mentioning that a few more southern actors such as Sudeep, Lakshmi Manchu and Napoleon are currently looking forward to make a splash in Hollywood with their respective international projects.

In the film, based on the eponymous bestselling novel, Dhanush plays a street magician called Ajatashatru Lavash Patel.  In a chat with this writer last year, he recalled the experience of signing this project. “It’s God’s grace that I landed this offer. Although I have been offered three Hollywood projects so far, the script of this one really convinced me to sign it. It’s a very strong role.” Directed by Ken Scott, known for projects such as Starbuck and Unfinished Business, the film also stars Berenice Bejo, Barkhad Abdi and Erin Moriarty among others.

Dhanush in a poster of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir. Twitter@DhanushKRaja

Dhanush in a poster of The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir. Twitter@DhanushKRaja

Talking about the project, Dhanush said it is all about spreading positivity. He also said that working in Hollywood has been revelation and it helped him learn about filmmaking. “Irrespective of the industry I work in, I’m constantly learning from the people I work with. If Bollywood taught me a lot about production, Hollywood has been a revelation in terms of understanding filmmaking better,” said Dhanush, who is gearing up to direct his second film later this year.

Kannada superstar Sudeep will be making his Hollywood debut this year in upcoming science-fiction thriller Risen, helmed by Australian filmmaker Eddie Arya, who was in India last October to do a photoshoot with Sudeep.

Having successfully crossed over to other Indian film industries, Sudeep’s Hollywood debut would be keenly followed. In Risen, tipped to go on the floors in March, the 44-year-old star will be seen as an army officer.

Well-known Tamil actor Napoleon, popular for playing supporting characters in over 200 films, is making his Hollywood debut in Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge, directed by Sam Logan Khalegi, who has an Emmy nomination to his credit.

In a press interaction last December in Chennai, Napoleon said he was thrilled to land an opportunity to work in Hollywood. “Tel Ganesh, One of the producers of the film, is from my native, Trichy. We’ve known each other for a long time since we both run software companies in the US. One day, he told me he’s going to produce a Hollywood film and he insisted that I should act in it. I told him I’m not sure because I cannot speak English and also have some film commitments in Tamil. But he was hell bent on having me on board and agreed to shoot whenever I was free.”

In the film, Napoleon plays a museum curator and he thoroughly enjoyed playing the character, the actor says. "The film is based on a true story and I shot for my scenes last October. We’re planning to release the film in Tamil as well as I want my fans to watch the film. We’ll make slight changes to the Tamil version and we have to shoot a few scenes for the same," he said, adding the film also stars popular rapper Eminem’s brother Nathan Mathers in an important role.

Napoleon is open to taking up more opportunities in Hollywood. “I don’t want to restrict myself to one industry. I was nervous about speaking in English in Hollywood, but I realised it’s not as difficult as I thought.”

Actress and television show host Lakshmi Manchu, who has been part of international television shows such as Boston Legal and Desperate Housewives, played a crucial role in Brie Larson’s Basmati Blues, a cross-cultural musical comedy. She played a farmer in the film which was supposed to hit the screens in February.

Updated Date: Mar 06, 2018 16:49 PM