It’s been quite the year for South Asians in the diaspora this year and look’s like it’s only going to get better! Read why here. But before we look ahead, let’s give props where props are due and stroll down memory lane for all the big moments in 2017 for South Asian-Americans in the world of Entertainment.
1. Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar at the awards
2017 started with a big bang for actors Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar, whose movie “Lion” garnered Oscar nominations. Based on the real story of Saroo Brierley, the movie tugs at the heartstrings. Patel and Pawar brought all their cuteness on the red carpet and on stage, tugging at all our hearts.
2. Deepika Padukone’s Big Hollywood Debut
“xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” hit the big screens on Jan 20, 2017, marking Padukone’s official debut in Hollywood. While the movie received mixed reviews, everyone praised Padukone for solid acting and stunt work. Plus, she looked hot AF. There isn’t much news about more Hollywood films she’s doing but she did make a splash at the 2017 Met Gala, stunning in an all-white ensemble.
3. Aziz Ansari Hosts “Saturday Night Live”
Ansari became the first South Asian-American host to the iconic sketch comedy. As always, he stunned in his monologue because the episode aired the day after Trump’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan 21, 2017. He called the POTUS out for the rise in racism and Islamophobia.
4. Lilly Singh’s Book “How to be a Bawse” Releases
The YouTube star’s very first book launched on March 28, 2017, and immediately became a success. Filled with her own life story, motivational content, and lots of fun graphics, Singh’s book “How to be a Bawse” makes you feel just that, like a boss.
5. Hannah Simone Hosts her Show
The actress, already a fan favorite thanks to her role as Cecelia Parekh on “New Girl,” hosted this reality show on FOX. It premiered in March 2017. The reality show competition about surviving on an island paired up a professional survivalist with the everyday person. Simone got to be her badass self as a host.
6. Hasan Minhaj Hosts the White House Correspondant’s Dinner
In this epic event on April 29, “The Daily Show” correspondent excelled at his very first time hosting the prestigious event. Minhaj was evocative, funny, and excelled at roasting those who were present in the crowd and those who weren’t.
7. South Asians Dazzle at the Met Gala
Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Mindy Kaling, Hasan Minhaj, Aziz Ansari, Riz Ahmed, Deepica Mutyala. Let’s just say, we dazzled at the Met Gala red carpet on May 1 because each of them were representing us while looking stunning.
8. “Master of None” season 2 arrives
In its second season, which dropped on May 12, this award-winning comedy managed to top its already excellent first season. Focusing on Dev Shah (Aziz Ansari), the show weaves narratives on dating, interracial relationships, first and second generation immigrants, racism, diversity and so much more. Season 2 saw Dev in his element as he learned cooking in Italy, falling for Francesca, and figuring out what it’s like to date in New York City. It was beautifully shot.
9. Priyanka Chopra Debuts on the Big Screen
After making her mark with “Quantico” in 2015 and kicking ass in her role as Alex Parrish, the actress finally made her big Hollywood debut with “Baywatch” on May 25. In this remake of the iconic show, Chopra plays the villainous Victoria Leeds. She gets to torment The Rock and Zac Efron, which not many people can take credit for. This was just a stepping stone for her. She will be seen in two more movies next year, “A Kid Like Jake” and “Isn’t It Romantic?”
10. “The Big Sick” Makes a Splash
Kumail Nanjiani, best known for his series regular role on “Silicon Valley,” created a big stir with this film, which released on June 23. He adapts his real-life love story with wife Emily onto the big screen. He brought Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and Hollywood biggies like Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, and Zoe Kazan with him. The movie received excellent reviews and earned nominations for Best Film at the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards. Thanks for bringing us this gem, Nanjiani!
11. “Immigrants, We Get the Job Done”
K’naan’s official music video for the song “Immigrants, We Get the Job Done,” dropped on Jun 28 and it features Riz Ahmed, Residente, and Snow tha Product. It should basically be the anthem for 2017.
12. All the Awards for South Asian-American
This was a great year for South Asians to shine at the Emmy’s. On September 17th, the star-studded award show saw Riz Ahmed win the Best Actor award for his terrific performance in the HBO miniseries “The Night Of.” In his acceptance speech, he gave a shoutout to South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project. Aziz Ansari and his costar Lena Waithe won an Emmy for writing the episode “Thanksgiving” for the second season of “Master of None.”
13. Kumail Nanjiani Hosts “Saturday Night Live”
Fresh off the success of his movie, Nanjiani hosted “SNL” on October 14. After Ansari, he was the second South Asian-American to host. In his monologue, he fearlessly spoke about the political climate and what it means for him to be a Pakistani immigrant living in today’s United States. His speech is poignant and funny as hell.
14. Basmati Blues Creates Stir
This film’s trailer, starring Brie Larson and Utkarsh Ambudkar, came out in Nov 2017 and was met with well-deserved criticism. “Basmati Blues” played right into the hands of the white savior stereotype, saving the non-white Indian culture. Given the history of British colonialism, it’s a wonder this movie was even made. Plus, it adds to the one-dimensional way of portraying South Asians. We’ve had enough of that.
15. “The Mindy Project” Comes to an End
After six successful seasons, this Mindy Kaling-led show ended on Nov 14 with her character Mindy Lahiri getting everything she wanted: a loving relationship, a great career, and a lovely son. Kaling, who also wrote and produced this comedy, was the first South Asian-American woman to lead her own show. She previously had a regular role on the NBC comedy, “The Office.”
16. “The Problem with Apu” Starts a Groundbreaking Discussion
Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s well-researched documentary took aim at the famed “The Simpsons” character Apu Nahasapeemapetillon. He speaks with several South Asian-American artists and also the makers of “The Simpsons” to try and figure out what went wrong with Apu and why he is so damn stereotypical. His quest was to get an interview with actor Hank Azaria, who voices Apu. It aired on Nov 19 on TruTV.
17. Kunal Nayyar’s Character Finally Steps Upon “The Big Bang Theory”
For 11 seasons, this hit comedy hasn’t developed the character of Rajesh Koothrappali at all. While actor Kunal Nayyar is funny and adorable, Raj is just the opposite. However, with it’s recent episode titled “The Confidence Erosion” that aired on Dec 7, the show has taken a hint of the growing South Asian-American representation. Read about it here.
18. Russell Peters Show “The Indian Detective”
In Nov 2017, comedian Russell Peters starred as the lead in this CTV comedy in Canada. Netflix picked it up to launch the show on its streaming platform. It launched on Dec 19, 2017. Peters stars as Doug, a Toronto cop who visits his father (played by Anupam Kher) in Mumbai and gets involved in solving a high-level crime and meets the love of his life. The comedy is only 4 episodes but ends on a cliffhanger, leaving some of us with the hope that it will return. Read our review.
19. Shoba Narayan Joins “Hamilton”
We don’t hear enough about the progress South Asian-Americans are making in the theatre world. And there is so much! For starters, Narayan announced on Dec 14 that she will join the revered play “Hamilton.” She will play Eliza Hamilton. Narayan is the only South Asian actress starring in a prime role on Broadway currently, giving her achievement landmark status. Check her out!
Wow… Where do I begin. I’m so honored to announce that I will be playing Eliza Hamilton in HAMILTON. I couldn’t be more excited to be telling this story, portraying such a remarkable woman. It is moments like these that remind me what it took to get here. To all the people that helped along the way, encouraging me in the hardest times to pursue my dreams, I can’t thank you enough. This is for the women, the immigrants, the minorities that wake up every morning and push to defy the odds, to dream big, and to not throw away their shot. Thrilled to bring Hamilton across America with this incredibly brilliant company. #Hamilton #ElizaHamilton #RiseUp #ImmigrantsGetTheJobDone @hamiltonmusical Link in Bio
20. The Year of Mindy Kaling
As we wind down 2017, let’s face it, this year has been one of the best for Kaling. Her successful show ended on her terms. The trailer for her two big movies, “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Oceans 8” were released. She was on the cover of TIME magazine (view it here). She is one of television’s highest-paid actresses. She stunned at the Met Gala. Most recently, the actress became a new mother, giving birth to daughter Katherine Kaling on Dec 15, 2017. Clearly, she’s got it all.