In the wake of Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra's American television debut with ABC Network's "Quantico," Los Angeles-based filmmaker and music producer Rohit Iyengar has made a video asking Americans if they know the actress and her upcoming show. Iyengar took to the streets of L.A. to check out what people think of Priyanka, Bollywood and diversity in Hollywood.
It is a big moment for the cause of diversity on American television that a top Bollywood actress has been cast as the main protagonist on a prime time network drama.
Chopra plays the lead role of FBI trainee Alex Parrish, who needs to find out which of her fellow recruits was the mastermind behind one of the biggest terrorist attacks in America.
The victory here is that the actress has not been cast just for being Indian or brown. Her name on the show too is not Indian. This kind of colorblind casting is important.
We surely need to see more brown women in non-stereotypical roles in pop culture and the mainstream media. Priyanka's casting is a move in the right direction for diversity. And L.A. seems to agree to that.
When Iyengar asked people what they think about diversity in Hollywood, all of them were game for it, and wanted to see a more diverse group of actors, writers and directors involved with American Television.
When one of them was asked if enough was being done for diversity, he said, "More is always better. Look around you, there is diversity all over the place. So I don't want to watch white people on TV all the time."
Not many people knew about the actress, while some had an idea about the show. But like most of us, Iyengar believes that this is going to change drastically once "Quantico" premieres. "@priyankachopra You are going to be HUGE! after #Quantico Premieres," wrote Iyengar on Twitter.
Iyengar is a global citizen. Born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Dubai, he did his college in Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles. Iyengar travels to India a lot too.
He says that he decided to work on this video as he is a big supporter of diversity and wanted to find out how responsive the general public is to it. "This is the first time a Bollywood celebrity has made such a smash in the United States. Her face is on posters all around town: Billboards, trains, bus stops, TV commercials. ABC is one of the largest networks in the States along with CBS and NBC," he says, talking about what inspired him to do the video.
"I wanted to know how responsive the general public was to this. Diversity in Hollywood is a major topic of discussion these days. I am currently working at the GVA Talent Agency in Hollywood, so I get to see the trend towards diversity first-hand," he adds.
Besides Chopra, "Quantico" also features a hijabi character of Nimah Amin, played by Palestinian actress Yasmine Al Massri.
It would be a great step ahead for diversity, if a show like "Quantico," with a diverse cast and group of writers, becomes successful.
"Quantico" starts on ABC Sunday, Sept. 27, 10/9c.
Watch Rohit Iyengar's video:
About Iyengar: His SPR Productions projects include Auto-Tune remixes of Arnab Goswami and Rahul Gandhi. SPR also partnered with singer Priya Vedula on the Hindi versions of Let it go (Frozen) and Love Me Like You Do (Fifty Shades of Grey) – Our previous Asking Americans Video was about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and currently has over 60,000 views. He has also worked on Dharma Productions' "Gori Tere Pyaar Mein" and the Star Plus show "Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai."