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Hollywood actors & the India connection

Did you know Estelle Merle O'Brien was born in India? Find out about other Hollywood greats and their Indian connection.

Merle O'Brien Thompson

Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson was born in Bombay, British India on 19 February 1911. Merle was given a nickname "Queenie", in honor of Queen Mary, who visited India along with King George V in 1911.
Oberon arrived in England for the first time at the age of 17 in 1928. She worked as a club hostess under the name Queenie O'Brien and played in minor and unbilled roles in various films.

Her film career received a major boost when the director Alexander Korda took an interest in her and gave her a small but prominent role, under the name Merle Oberon, as Anne Boleyn in 'The Private Life of Henry VIII' (1933) opposite Charles Laughton. The film became a major success and she was then given leading roles.

Ben Kingsley

Ben Kingsley was born in Krishna Pandit Bhanji on 31 December 1943.

Kingsley is an English actor with a career spanning over 40 years. He has won an Oscar, Grammy, BAFTA, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

He is known for his starring role as Mohandas Gandhi in the 1982 film "Gandhi", for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

He is also known for his performances in Schindler's List (1993), Twelfth Night (1996), Sexy Beast (2000), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013).

Hannah Simone

Hannah Simone was born in London, to an Indian father and an English mother of German, Italian, and Greek Cypriot descent.
Simone was born on August 3, 1980. She is a British-Canadian television host, actress and former fashion model.

At 16, Simone lived in New Delhi, India, where she attended the American Embassy School. A year later, she returned to Canada.

Erick Avari

Erick Avari was born on 13 April 1952, is an Indian-American television, film and theatre actor.

Erick Avari was born in Nariman Eruch Avari in Darjeeling, West Bengal, into an old Parsi-Zoroastrian family.

Avari is known primarily for his roles in science-fiction serial productions.

Kal Penn

Kalpen Suresh Modi was born on April 23, 1977, is an American actor, producer, chef, and civil servant. Penn was born in Montclair, New Jersey to Indian immigrant parents.

Penn is best known by his stage name Kal Penn. As an actor, he is known for his role portraying Lawrence Kutner on the television program House, as well as the character Kumar Patel in the Harold & Kumar film series.

Sendhil Ramamurthy

Sendhil Ramamurthy was born in Chicago to a Kannadiga Indian father and a Tamil Indian mother who had emigrated from India. He grew up speaking English and a little Kannada.

He is known for his several TV shows and films, including Ellen, Casualty, Guiding Light, Grey's Anatomy, Ultimate Force, CSI: Miami, Heroes and Covert Affairs.

Sakina Jaffrey

Sakina Jaffrey was born on February 14, 1962, in Manhattan, New York, USA.

She is the youngest daughter of Indian-born parents, actress and food & travel writer Madhur Jaffrey and actor Saeed Jaffrey.

She is an actress known for House of Cards (2013), The Mindy Project (2012) and Mr. Robot (2015).

Dev Patel

Dev Patel was born on 23 April 1990. He was born and raised in London to Indian parents.

Patel made his screen debut as Anwar Kharral in the first two seasons of the British teen drama television series "Skins".

Patel is the son of Anita, a care worker and Raj - an IT consultant.
His parents are Indian Hindus, though they were both born in Nairobi, where there is a significant Indian community, they emigrated to England separately in their teens, and first met in London.