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Dev Patel: Hollywood is Institutionally Racist

16 Aug 2010

At this point you’d expect Dev Patel, the young British Indian who played protagonist Jamal Malik in the Oscar-sweeping Slumdog Millionaire, to be rolling in money. On the contrary, the 20 year old actor is currently jobless — a problem hardly helped by his recent role as Prince Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan‘s complete flop The Last Airbender.

According to the Telegraph, Patel has been frustrated with the lack of satisfying roles being offered to him, often being scouted for limited roles as terrorists, taxi drivers or geeks. “For my second film I wanted a role that would stretch me, but all I was getting offered were stereotypical parts like the goofy Indian sidekick,” he said.

Patel also told the Telegraph:

“Asian actors tend not to be sent Hollywood scripts that are substantial or challenging. I’m likely to be offered the roles of a terrorist, cab driver and smart geek… I want to show that I have versatility. You have to remember that, before Slumdog, the last film about India that went big at the Oscars was Gandhi, as played by Ben Kingsley. The fact that me and Freida [Pinto] have any kind of platform in Hollywood is a big step forward.”

Patel’s girlfriend, the lovely Frieda Pinto, received a great break by being cast in Woody Allen‘s upcoming film, You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.

His comment about racist roles could also be said for Chinese actors, who often only only receive Hollywood exposure through martial arts or comedy roles; Chow Yun-fat was one such person who, despite his dramatic talent, was unable to get anywhere beyond the embarassing Bulletproof Monk in Hollywood. Likewise, Ken Jeong — no matter how objectively hilarious his somber expressions are — has been time and time again falling into the role of Asian clown.

Author Shobha De tweeted in response: “Bachchoo Dev Patel calls Hollywood racist. Why do you think SRK, Big B, Salman, Aamir have stayed away? Badshahs here, cabbies there. Got it, Dev?”

[h/t @davechensky]

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One Comment leave one →
  1. loofah permalink
    19 Aug 2010 9:00 PM

    Television might be a better place to get more exposure these days than movies. Aziz Ansari is an interesting and smart Indian-American who is currently on Parks and Recreation. His role is partly comedic , but the show at least doesn’t have a laugh track. TV also offers the opportunity to get exposure towards more audiences that aren’t spending $10 a ticket to go to the movie theater.
    He also mentions Slumdog Millionare. I particularly like segments 01:05-02:10 in above link.

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