Famous five

A quintet of Bollywood artists who successfully crossed over to the West

Mira Nair
director
India-born helmer Nair’s “Salaam Bombay” (1988) earned an Oscar nom for foreign-lingo film, one of only three for the country’s films. Among other notable pics she’s made are “Mississippi Masala,” starring a young Denzel Washington in an interracial romance with an Indian; “Kama Sutra,” based on a story in the famed Indian sex instructional; and “Monsoon Wedding,” which gained attention in Hollywood and a Golden Globe foreign film nomination. However, her “Vanity Fair” didn’t fare as well. She’s working on “The Namesake,” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Up next is a Hollywood remake of Bollywood hit “Munnabhai MBBS” called “Gangsta M.D.”

Shekhar Kapur
director-producer
Kapur’s first film was a nontraditional Bollywood film called “Masoom” (Innocent, 1983). Starring thesps Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi, story centers on a family adjusting to the arrival of the father’s son from a one-night stand that no one had known about. His “Bandit Queen” (1994) was India’s entry for the foreign-lingo film Oscar. But it was his “Elizabeth” (1988) that brought him to the notice of the Western world. Since then he’s directed “The Four Feathers,” which flopped in 2002. He produced feature “The Guru” (2002), and is credited with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the idea behind musical “Bombay Dreams.”

A.R. Rahman
music composer
Allah Rakha Rahman started out composing music for Tamil films in India. His expansion into Bollywood films included work on “Lagaan,” Ashutosh Gowarikar’s 2001 film that was Oscar-nommed in the foreign-lingo category. But it was his music for 1998’s “Dil se” (From the Heart) that brought him to the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Rahman composed music for “Bombay Dreams,” and more recently for the legit version of “The Lord of the Rings” along with Finnish troupe Varttina. The musical will bow in Toronto in February. Rahman still composes music for Indian films in Tamil and Hindi.

Aishwarya Rai
actress
The former Miss Universe was known in the West even before she went onscreen in India. She burst onto the screen at Cannes in 2002 with “Devdas,” appearing on the red carpet in a horse-drawn carriage for the Bollywood pic’s world preem. A year later, she was back on the Croisette as a jury member. After appearing in the Pathe-Miramax co-production “Bride and Prejudice,” helmed by Gurinder Chadha, thesp is working on Paul Mayeda Berges’ “Mistress of Spices.”

Kabir Bedi
actor
For years, Bedi was on the fringe of Bollywood. He toplined in films that did so-so business, but the actor found success with Italo miniseries “Sandokan” (1976) and its many follow-ups.

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