BAFTA Award-winning actor Dev Patel in one of his recent interviews said that he has been made to feel “not British enough” to play British characters and “not Indian enough” to play Indian characters.
The Lion (2016) actor said that after the global success of Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, which scooped eight Academy Awards at the 81st Academy Awards including Best Picture, he expected to receive bigger roles, but the roles that actually came his way were full of cliches and expected him to put on a thick Indian accent.
Through hard work and perseverance, he eventually notched up bigger, non-cliché leading roles in films such as The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019), but that came with its own complications.
Patel said that he apologized to director Armando Iannucci for the “barrage of comments” that would come his way for casting a British Indian actor to “basically play Charles Dickens.” He said he had concerns that his casting would distract from the film itself, “because everyone’s going to be so fixated on the colour of the lead’s skin.”
Talking about the criticism that he has received for playing both British characters and Indian characters, the actor said, “You are kind of like, ‘Where am I allowed to exist?’ How specific are we going to get with this? What does it mean to be an actor — to just be yourself?” Patel asked. “Am I only allowed to play a guy who is 31 years old? Are you going to check my blood type?”
“The very essence of acting, it asks for you to perform, transform, change. That’s the allure of the job. And sometimes I feel stuck in this cultural no-man’s-land. I am not British enough to be fully British, not Indian enough to be fully Indian,” he signed off.
Dev Patel is presently winning raves for his outstanding performance in David Lowery’s epic medieval fantasy film The Green Knight (2021). The film had its US premiere on July 30.
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