San Francisco — Bollywood actor Ali Fazal makes a brief appearance in Universal’s “Furious 7,” the latest high-octane actioner starring Dwayne Johnston, Jason Statham and Vin Diesel. But he makes quite a splashy impression.
Tall and lanky, clad in garish sportswear including a bright purple shirt and blinged-out sunglasses, Fazal puts on a Middle Eastern accent for the role of Safar, a mysterious but capable handler and friend of the fast-driving vengeance squad as they attempt to outsmart a dangerous global mastermind.
In Fazal’s first scene, shot at the Etihad Towers beach resort in Abu Dhabi, he is called upon by the Furious team to put his hands on a top-secret memory chip which has been hidden inside a top-of-the-line sports car, a $3.5 million W Motors Lykan Hypersport. One of only seven cars manufactured in a limited run in 2013, the Hypersport boasts white gold, diamond and sapphire accents.
The catch? The car is parked in a vault on the 80th floor penthouse.
Fazal’s other scene takes place in a garage in Abu Dhabi, which was created on a film set near Atlanta.
The 28-year-old Lucknow native has appeared in “3 Idiots,” the independent Indian American film “For Here or to Go,” “Always Kabhi Kabhi,” “Bobby Jasoos,” “Khamoshiyan” and “Sonali Cable.”
This is the film that Deepika Padukone was rumored to have signed and then backed out of, for scheduling reasons. It’s fun to wonder which role she might have been up for — and the closest guess is the role of Ramsey, a brilliant computer hacker who befriends the team and ends up joining them in their wild stunts. That role is now played by British actress Nathalie Emmanuel (“Game of Thrones”).
Universal’s “Fast and Furious” franchise has run successfully for 15 years and racked up $2.4 billion in gross revenues. Directed by James Wan (“The Conjuring”), it stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jordana Brewster and opens nationwide April 3.