Kunal Nayyar, better known for his portrayal as Rajesh Koothrappali in ‘The Big Bang Theory’, talks about being stereotyped in the Hollywood industry. Keep reading to find out what he has to say.
It’s been over a year since CBS‘ long-running sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ended after 12 seasons. Although the show’s main cast members have moved on to other projects since then, their time on the show continues to be discussed. As a result, there are new details concerning the project that people may not be aware of, including the most recent information about the Pasadena gang’s Indian member.
- Yes, My Accent is Real
- “I am proud to be myself”
Yes, My Accent is Real
Kunal Nayyar, who has now made the United States his home for over a decade, grew up in areas with many cross-cultural influences, which aided his development as a theatre and now television actor. And it’s because of his ease with his co-stars and the surroundings that he’s become the star of the American sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
He is currently creating waves in India on small screens (Zee Café) with his all-powerful persona Rajesh Koothrappali. Kunal talks about his long career in the American sitcom in a freewheeling conversation in the Capital to promote his recent biography ‘Yes My Accent is Real’ (Simon & Schuster), in which he has disclosed his personal and professional experiences in a hilarious, self-deprecating style. In any event, this actor can pull off a variety of accents, including Spanish, American, British, and Irish. Kunal, a major fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Hanks, and Aamir Khan, is scheming with Indian directors but believes the forthcoming projects would be revealed in the coming years. As a proud Indian, he still sleeps with a fan on to remind himself of his root!
Nayyar believes that when more Indians became visible in American society in professions as diverse as commerce, medicine, and even hospitality it was only a matter of time before Hollywood caught up with them. He emphasizes, “It is lovely to see the surge of Indian characters on American television. I wear my culture very proudly on my sleeve. I am proud to be an Indian. It did set me apart in an advantageous way for Big Bang … obviously, although in other instances, it has also set me apart to my disadvantage”.
“I am proud to be myself”
Surprisingly, after his inclusion, the role was recast as an Indian. “I guess that is the perk of being on a big TV show watched by 22 million people. I am lucky that it puts me ahead in the line”. He goes out of his way to refute the common misconception that voice-acting is simply reciting lines from a script. “When the character sits down, you have to remember to grunt to indicate the effort. When the character runs, you have to remember to huff and puff”. He appreciates the process and believes it helps him grow as an actor. “It reminds me to use more physicality, tap into external forces. It helps me put into practice the outside-in approach”.
Rajesh Koothrappali, the character he plays on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, is an Indian who maintains healthy connections with his Western counterparts without having to compromise his identity or accent. Kunal claims he’s the same way. “I understand the desire of NRIs to blend in. I really, really do. But the only way I can live with myself is if I am fiercely 1,000% myself at all times. I say, wear your identity on your sleeves. I didn’t decide to be an Indian in America. I’m just proud to be myself.”
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