Indian American entertainment newsmakers of 2018

Jodhpur: Actress Priyanka Chopra and and American pop-singer Nick Jonas during their Mehendi ceremony in Jodhpur. (Instagram/priyankachopra)

Several Indian Americans and Indian-origin artists in the entertainment industry in the US made headlines in 2018, whether it had to do with personal accomplishments or getting into wedlock.

Here are some memorable names and their accomplishments, or controversies, as the case was:

Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra hit the limelight several times this year.

She attended the Royal Wedding in London in May where her friend Megan Markle tied the knot with Prince Harry.

Actress Priyanka Chopra arrives to attend her friend and actress Meghan Markle’s wedding at the St. George’s Chapel. (Photo: Twitter/@TeamPriyanka)

She was also part of a controversy about her show “Quantico” which came under fire in June after one of the episodes sparked outrage online because the story was about a plot which was engineered by India to carry out a nuclear attack on New York City and pin it on Pakistan, upsetting many Indians around the world.

But what made Chopra more popular this year was her double wedding extravaganza to American singer Nick Jonas.

After being spotted together with Jonas multiple times earlier on in the year, Chopra finally announced her relationship to Jonas with a traditional Roka ceremony in Mumbai, India.

Chopra then had her bachelorette party in Amsterdam and her bridal shower in at Tiffany & Co. in New York City.

The plotline on Priyanka Chopra’s show Quantico drew condemnation from some in India – Reuters

The two wed at the beginning of December at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan where the ceremonies included a mehndi ceremony, a pompous sangeet, a Catholic wedding officiated by Jonas’ father and a Hindu wedding, in respect both of their cultures.

The couple posted pictures from their wedding on Instagram saying that “one of the most special things that our relationship has given us is a merging of families who love and respect each others’ faiths and cultures.”

They then had a reception in New Delhi which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Aziz Ansari and Lena Waite accept the award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for “Master of None.” REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Aziz Ansari

Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual harassment by one of the women he had dated, just a week after he won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy in January.

Though Ansari said in a statement that his actions were “by all indications were completely consensual,” it was not until May that he finally got the courage to come back into the limelight at the Comedy Cellar in New York City and crack some jokes.

The news of the sexual assault allegations affected him so much that he decided to skip the 24th Screen Actors Guild Awards which happened later that month.

Ansari was also criticized by many, including Donald Trump Jr. when Netflix announced that they would be willing to work with him again for a third season of “Master of None.”

Mindy Kaling’s Barbie doll (Courtesy: Facebook)

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling got her own Barbie doll this year along with her co-stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, as a promotional gig for their film “A Wrinkle in Time,” which released on March 9.

A day before the film released, Kaling’s new show “Champions” premiered on NBC.

The show is about how Kaling’s character shows up at her high school boyfriend’s gym to drop off their 15-year-old gay son, as he needs a place to live in New York so can attend a high school for performers.

Kaling’s career as a writer also grew in the year 2018 as she wrote the film “Late Night,” based on a late-night show and “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” a romantic comedy series which is to premiere on Hulu next year.

Padma Lakshmi. (Photo: Twitter/@PadmaLakshmi)

Padma Lakshmi

In May, Padma Lakshmi posed for a naked photo shoot in which she put slices of pepperoni on her breasts while she ate one.

Then in August, she took a stance on illegal immigration and looked into the lives of the 1.3 million undocumented immigrants who work behind-the-scenes, in the country’s restaurant industry.

Lakshmi also hosted a comedy show in October to advocate for women after Louis C.K.’s returned to the stance in August after his November 2017 admission that he masturbated in front of women without their consent, according to a Hello Giggles report.

Lakshmi made it clear in September when she wrote a New York Times op-ed stating that she does not “want to be known as that girl from that cooking show who was raped.”

In the op-ed Lakshmi describes how she was raped at the age of 16 while she was sleeping beside her 23-year-old boyfriend.

“I think women feel that way. They feel like they have this invisible scarlet letter that this happened to them,” she told Today.

Meanwhile, Lakshmi has been hosting “Top Chef” for 15 seasons and when the 16th one started, she expressed her desire to have her friend Aziz Ansari on the show.

Dev Patel in a still from the movie Lion

Dev Patel

Dev Patel would play the lead in a modern version of Charles Dickens’ novel “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and will also star in “Hotel Mumbai,” a film about the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, and “The Wedding Guest.”

He is set to make his directorial debut with the film “Monkey Man,” in which Patel will also star in.

The film is set in contemporary India and is about a kid who emerges from prison to take on a world enmeshed in corporate greed and eroding spiritual values, according to a Deadline report.

Nimesh Patel has written jokes for “Saturday Night Live” and the Oscars. MUST CREDIT: Phil Provencio

Nimesh Patel

Nimesh Patel is the first Indian American to write for “Saturday Night Live” on NBC, and was nominated in July for an Emmy Award in the ‘Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series – 2018’ category.

Patel shared his nomination with a group of other “SNL” writers, including head writers Bryan Tucker, Michael Che, Colin Jost and Kent Sublette.

Patel has written for the Oscars as well as for the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner which was hosted by Indian American comedian Hasan Minhaj.

He also joked at New York’s Comedy Cellar during the 2016 election season saying that he “wanted Bobby Jindal to win for like two minutes. Not because I believe in his politics, but because I want a career on (‘Saturday Night Live’) and that’s the only way that was going to happen.”

Unfortunately, earlier this month, Patel was pulled off stage by the Columbia Asian American Alliance during their event cultureSHOCK: Reclaim, after he told the audience some jokes that were deemed to be racist and homophobic.

“Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj gave the keynote roast at the White House Correspondents Dinner 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Marvin Joseph, The Washington Post)

Hasan Minhaj

In March, Hassan Minhaj was asked to host a weekly comedy show on Netflix and now he is discussing current political and social issues of the world in a 32-episode series called “Patriot Act.”

Minhaj is also the executive producer for the show alongside co-creator Prashanth Venkataramanujam and Art & Industry’s Michelle Caputo and Shannon Hartman.

Kanal Nayyar (IMDB)

Other highlights from the year 2018 include:

  • Kabir Chopra brings out a new Indian American Web series about online dating called “Swiped to Death”
  • Kunal Nayyar’s character in “Big Bang Theory” comes to an end as CBS announces it will not continue the show
  • Meher Tatna is re-elected as the President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  • Sarayu Rao Blue plays a lead role in NBC’s new comedy series “I Feel Bad”
  • Kumail Nanjiani was the talk of the town at the 90th Oscars, earlier in the year
  • Mira Nair will be directing BBC’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel “A Suitable Boy”
  • Lilly Singh will be starring in NBC’s new show “Bright Futures”
  • Night Shyamalan was presented with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Drexel University at the June commencement where he also spoke
  • Sujata Day is serving as the Ambassador and spokesperson for the 2019 HBO Visionaries program
  • Kal Penn will be writing and executive producing a project for a new comedy series on NBC along with Michael Schur and Matt Murray.


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