Dev Patel "not ashamed" of Indian roles

Actor Dev Patel
PHOTO: Berita Harian

Actors often shy away from playing the same role too often, for fear of being typecast - but not Dev Patel.

In town for a dialogue session at the Singapore International Film Festival 2015, Patel said that he appreciates his Indian heritage.

"Unlike some other actors, I really embrace playing who I am. I am a British Asian, that's what they would class me as and I'm not ashamed of it," said the 25-year-old.

The British-Indian actor skyrocketed to fame after his breakout role as a teen from a Mumbai slum in award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.

He followed the role closely with other ​Indian​-centric roles, including hotel manager Sonny Kapoor in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and IT genius Deon Wilson in Chappie.

But the London-born actor was not always so comfortable in his own skin.

"I spent most of growing up in school trying to shun the Indian in me. I didn't think it was cool, and you'd get bullied. It's the only thing you could do to try and fit in."

In his latest movie The Man Who Knew Infinity, he plays Indian math genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, who earned admittance to Cambridge University during World War I. He came under the mentorship of his professor G. H. Hardy, played by the legendary Jeremy Irons.

The movie, which is based on Ramanujan's autobiography of the same title, revolves around the relationship he shares with his professor and the prejudices he faced.

"It's just very alien to me, I'm kind of dyslexic when it comes to mathematics," said Patel, ​who fidgeted​ in his chair frequently.

"My father's an accountant, so I would let him down a lot when I get the math grades."

But Papa Patel is probably beaming with pride at the vicarious victory right now.​

When asked if he would not be appearing in Bollywood movies anytime soon, Patel said that he preferred to reach out to an "international audience". 

As for advice for Asian actors who are looking to succeed in Hollywood, Patel has this to say: "It may take you longer, more steps, to get to where you want to go to. But you got to keep your chin up, trudging along. And immerse yourself in your art."

The Man Who Knew Infinity premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival on Dec 4 at Marina Bay Sands Theatre.

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