This post was originally published on our partner website India.com.
It’s official: slowly but surely, Bollywood is taking over Hollywood.
First, it was a small but kick-ass role as an assassin for New York model-turned-Bollywood actor, Nargis Fakhri, in “Spy,” the hilarious comedy starring Melissa McCarthy. Then, Priyanka Chopra made waves as an FBI agent on the run in her successful ABC series, “Quantico.” Now, not only is Chopra also making her big screen debut in the remake of “Baywatch” as the film’s villain, but Deepika Padukone is also stepping into Hollywood with the third installment of the “xXx” series, “The Return of Xander Cage.”
So, what do we really know about Padukone’s role and how she got it? Let’s set up a timeline, shall we?
In early December, both Padukone and “xXx” star Vin Diesel posted photos with each other on their respective social media handles. Both kept their photos relatively mysterious, with Diesel just posting a photo of himself next to Padukone with a backdrop of Diesel from xXx.
Padukone’s was a little more obvious as the actual logo for xXx was posted behind a photo of her and Diesel hugging, with a simple caption: “@vindiesel.” (See feature image above.)
Naturally, fans and media outlets went nuts over the news. Was it finally time for Padukone to make a Hollywood splash just like her fellow Bollywood peers? Eventually, it was confirmed that Padukone was, at the very least, in talks to join the film, though what her role would be was still up in the air.
The rest of the cast includes some big names including Samuel L. Jackson (who reprises his role from the first two films), Jet Li (“Romeo Must Die”), Ruby Rose (“Orange is the New Black”) and Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”).
Finally, this week, the news was officially confirmed: not only is Padukone officially part of the “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” team, she is playing the lead female role opposite Diesel. Variety confirmed the news, stating Padukone would play “a razor-sharp huntress who helps Cage during his latest mission” in the film, which is set to start shooting later this month.
Padukone recently commented on the announcement of her casting to the Press Trust of India:
“I am very excited. But I want to confess that I am very nervous. Most importantly I feel proud to be a part of a film where I get to show my ethnicity.”
This is great news for a big-budget Hollywood action flick. For years, women have played the weak, damsel in distress characters who are constantly being saved by the action heroes. This is a universal problem.
By casting Padukone to be a big part of the film as a “huntress” herself, “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” is growing the narrative that not only can women take care of themselves, they can fight for others as well.
Additionally, having two South Asian women, Padukone and Chopra, as a lead and a villain, respectively, in two big-budget Hollywood films is yet another sign that a change is coming. South Asians are finally getting the roles they’ve always deserved in global film and TV. Perhaps South Asian actors and actresses already living in the States will get their big breaks soon as well—better late than never.