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Indian movie makers eye worldwide sales

Press Trust of India
May 25, 2013 at 05:08pm IST

Cannes: When actor Eliyas Qureshi swapped Bollywood for Hollywood 15 years ago, the only roles for Indian actors were 'cab drivers, doctors and terrorists'.

Since then, the 42-year-old New York-based actor says he has played every south Asian stereotype in the book, from a would-be suicide attacker in Sacha Baron Cohen's 'The Dictator' to Michael Douglas's taxi driver in 'Wall Street'.

Although things have started to change "drastically for the better" in parts of the industry, many roles for south Asian actors remain just "caricatures", Qureshi told AFP this week at the Cannes Film Festival.

Indian movie makers eye worldwide sales

Indian movies have been popular in Russia for many years and actor Rajinikanth has long been a huge star in Japan.

Faced with permanent typecasting, Qureshi has taken matters in his own hands and joined a growing army of businessmen making money from selling Indian films to the rest of the world.

"The industry is a superficial industry and it becomes problematic when you end up doing the same roles time after time," he said.

"Denzel Washington dealt with stereotyping in his career and he broke it. I will break it by making my own movies and producing and acting in content that tells stories that appeals to a wider audience," he said.

US-based film producer and distributor Raaj Rahhi said the old days of Indian film being too India-specific for overseas markets beyond other south Asian countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan were long gone.

Indian movies have been popular in Russia for many years and actor Rajinikanth has long been a huge star in Japan, he said.

"I find film from India can be sold in Latin America, in Europe, in parts of the world we never thought of before because human emotion and drama are the same everywhere," he said.

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