Alia Bhatt to Farhan Akhtar: the Bollywood stars making their Hollywood debut

A number of Indian actors are set to appear in major productions releasing soon in the US

Bollywood stars Farhan Akhtar, Alia Bhatt and Dhanush are all set to make their debuts in big-budget Hollywood films. Photo: AFP and EPA
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Bollywood actor and director Farhan Akhtar is the latest star from India to land a major Hollywood project. Akhtar, who was last seen in the boxing drama Toofan last year, has joined the cast of the eagerly awaited Ms Marvel, set to debut on June 8 on Disney+.

"Grateful that the universe gifts these opportunities to grow, learn and in this case have a ton of fun while doing it," Akhtar, 48, said on social media, announcing his casting.

A multi-hyphenate, Akhtar, who is also a singer and producer, first made his name in Bollywood directing the acclaimed 2001 film Dil Chahta Hai. He joins a growing number of Indian actors making their acting debuts across the pond, joining the likes of Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Anupam Kher, Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone.

Here are all the Bollywood stars set to make their Hollywood debut:

Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar, who is the son of acclaimed lyricist Javed Akhtar and screenwriter Honey Irani, at the Red Sea International Film Festival in 2021. AFP

One of the most successful names in Bollywood today, Akhtar is the son of acclaimed lyricist Javed Akhtar and screenwriter Honey Irani. His sister, Zoya Akhtar, is also a successful director, known for hit films such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Gully Boy.

Following his acclaimed directorial debut in 2001, Akhtar starred in his first film, the musical Rock On!! in 2008, and has since fronted a number of acclaimed films, from Luck by Chance (2009) to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013). In 2019, he appeared alongside Chopra Jonas in the family drama The Sky is Pink, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

While his role in Ms Marvel is not yet known, Deadline reports that Akhtar has been cast in a "guest-starring" role.

Ms Marvel is the first Muslim superhero to headline a Marvel comic book series and the show will feature newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American teenager growing up in Jersey City who gains super powers.

Alia Bhatt

Alia Bhatt, who last month married Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor, at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2022. AFP

Fresh off her acclaimed turn as a mafia queen in the semi-biographical Gangubai Kathiawadi, Bhatt in March announced she's making her Hollywood debut in Heart of Stone, a spy thriller, alongside Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan.

The Netflix film, to be directed by British filmmaker Tom Harper, of Peaky Blinders fame, will also feature an international cast, including German actor and Army of the Dead's breakout star Matthias Schweighofer; Jing Lusi of Crazy Rich Asians; and British actress Sophie Okonedo, who was last seen in Death on the Nile.

While there are no plot details yet for Heart of Stone, the film is planned as a female spin on popular spy franchises, including Mission: Impossible and James Bond. Wonder Woman star Gadot, who was the first big name to be signed, has already begun filming in the UK.

Bhatt, who last month married Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor, is believed to have moved her wedding date so it didn't clash with the filming schedule of Heart of Stone.

“I just don’t want to do it for the heck of it and to tick it off the box. I want to look at opportunities which should have a good part, an interesting dynamic, and cast, something that is new and relevant," she told News 18 of her first Hollywood project.

Bhatt and Kapoor are set to star in their first movie together in the big-budget superhero film Brahmastra, scheduled for release in September.

Dhanush

Dhanush, who made his Hindi-language debut with 'Raanjhanaa' in 2013, promoting his Bollywood film ‘Atrangi Re’ in Mumbai in 2021. AFP

A superstar in South India, Dhanush made his acting debut in 2002 with the Tamil film Thulluvadho Ilamai, directed by his father Kasthuri Raja. He's since appeared in a number of Bollywood films, making his Hindi-language debut with Raanjhanaa (2013).

Although he played the lead in an international project — the India-set The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir in 2018 directed by Canadian filmmaker Ken ScottDhanush's first major Hollywood project will be the big-budget thriller The Gray Man.

Believed to be the most expensive Netflix film ever made, the spy caper stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Rege-Jean Page and Billy Bob Thornton among others and will be helmed by Marvel veterans Anthony and Joe Russo.

Set for a July 15 cinema debut (streaming from July 22), the action thriller will follow Court Gentry (Gosling), the CIA's most skilled mercenary, who accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets. When a psychopathic former colleague (Evans) puts a bounty on Court's head, it sets off a global manhunt by international assassins.

The Gray Man is based on Mark Greaney’s 10-book series of the same name.

“I am very humbled by the love and anticipation my fans have shown for me and The Gray Man. Though it’s a small part, I had the opportunity to collaborate with many talented people on set and work on some terrific action sequences," Dhanush said last month when stills from the film were released. "I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my Hollywood journey, and I am hoping audiences globally enjoy the film and experience an adrenalin rush with the action."

Hrithik Roshan

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - - -  January 7, 2017 --- Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan was in Dubai on Saturday, January 7, 2017, to promote his upcoming action thriller "Kaabil." The press conference was held  at the Westin Hotel in Dubai.  ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )  
ID: 26697
Reporter:  Rob Garratt
Section: AL *** Local Caption ***  DJ-070117-AL-Hrithik-26697-013.jpg

Ever since he signed with a Hollywood talent agency in 2020, fans of Roshan have been eagerly awaiting an announcement from the actor. Roshan is represented by The Gersh Agency, one of the largest in the US, with talents such as Meg Ryan, John Slattery, Adam Driver and Mark Hamill in its books.

Roshan, who made his acting debut with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai in 2000, is still one of the most bankable stars in the Indian film industry, known for his dance moves as well as action thrillers. His last film, War, which was released in 2019, was the highest-grossing Hindi film that year.

“Hrithik has always been an envelope pusher,” manager Amrita Sen told Deadline following the Gersh Agency signing. “For the last 20 years, Hrithik has been helping to drive Indian cinema into new genres, new narrative concepts and ever-more sophisticated storytelling. He is excited about the fact that the market for global content, which features characters and stories from other parts of the world, couldn’t be stronger than it is today.

"With Hrithik’s leadership, our goal is to continue to put India in a front and centre position on the path towards globalisation and diversity and help integrate creators into new markets that were previously not available to them. In partnership with Gersh, we will now be taking Hrithik’s ambitious vision around the world.”

Sobhita Dhulipala

A former beauty queen and model, Dhulipala made waves with a breakout role in the 2019 Amazon Prime Video series Made in Heaven, in which she played a wedding planner. She's since appeared in a number of South Indian films, including Kurup, alongside Kerala heart-throb Dulquer Salmaan. The crime film was one of the highest-grossing Malayalam films of 2021.

Dhulipala's first international project, Monkey Man, will mark the directorial debut of actor Dev Patel. The Netflix film, set in India, will feature Patel in the lead as an unlikely hero who emerges from prison and seeks revenge on the people who wronged him. South African actor Sharlto Copley, who starred in the acclaimed 2009 film District 9, will also star along with Indian actor Sikandar Kher.

"What appealed to me about the project is that it's a collaborative spirit, a young and rather eccentric approach to the story, and most certainly the people involved. I knew it would be special from the get-go. I really enjoyed my character's tender dilemmas; they were as glamorous as sorrowful," she told the Hindustan Times about her role.

Monkey Man wrapped filming in March last year. A release date has not been announced.

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Updated: May 09, 2022, 12:36 PM