An American and the Bollywood barrier

Mumbai, April 12 (Calcutta Tube) He has done over 30 ads in India, tried his luck in a dance reality show and ventured into movies. But Alexx O’Nell still feels the world’s largest film industry has very few roles for a white American like him.

‘You are a white guy in India. People feel that you are competing for roles where there aren’t many actors,’ Alexx, who is in his 30s and has featured in movies like ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Loins of Punjab’, told IANS.

Alexx, who hails from Connecticut, was into theatre in the US and while travelling in India got an opportunity to do ads and then stayed back to try his luck in Bollywood. He married Indian TV actress Shweta Keswani in 2007.

‘I have done over 30 ads. Slowly I got offers for films as well. I started with ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Loins of Punjab’, then I went on to do television with ‘Nach Baliye’ and then more films,’ he said.

‘If there are only a few people vying for my kind of roles, there are also very less roles for people like me. While at the same time for other roles, if there are 1,000 people competing, there are 200 roles that can be generated for them,’ he said.

He has also worked in television shows like ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ and ‘Dhoondh Legi Manzil Hume’.

After doing small roles in films like ‘Cheeni Kum’, the actor has now bagged plum projects like Santosh Sivan’s ambitious project ‘Urumi’ and Shirish Kunder’s ‘Joker’ with Akshay Kumar.

‘When I had signed ‘Urumi’, it was basically for a single character Estavio Da Gama, who was Vasco Da Gama’s son, but later I played Vasco Da Gama’s role too and had to speak only in Portuguese,’ Alexx said.

‘No one in the unit spoke Portuguese. I wanted to be very true to the accent and the way the character would speak at that time. So I hired a person in Mumbai before the shooting began,’ he said.

‘It was very important for me to know the language and its nuances before I delivered the dialogue. That required a great deal of effort. Even during the dubbing I had someone to assist me, so that I don’t go wrong with the pronunciation,’ he added.

‘Urumi’ is a Malayalam historical epic film directed by Sivan which also features Vidya Balan and Tabu in cameo appearances. The film was released in Kerala April 1 and will release in the rest of India soon. It is slated to get dubbed in Tamil and Hindi.

The actor will also be seen in ‘Joker’.

‘We are currently shooting for ‘Joker’. Just finished the Chandigarh schedule some time back,’ he said.

‘Akshay and I are rivals in a way in the film. We are pitted against each other, so we share a lot of screen space. I’m really looking forward to it. The second schedule is later this month,’ he added.

The actor has also worked on films like ‘Na Woh Hoti, Na Yeh Hota’ and ‘Chittagong’ that will release later this year.

(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at

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