Persis Khambatta – The True Pioneer In Hollywood
Posted by Vivek on August 17, 2014 | No Comments
TRIBUTE – Persis Khambatta – The True Pioneer In Hollywood
Today, Aug 18th, marks the 16th death anniversary of a Bollywood and Hollywood legend, Persis Khambatta. As someone who grew up seeing her visit our building in Mumbai and as someone who saw her speak to my mother, her success and her death, both hit home. Persis was the first South Asian to present the Oscars, but more than her success in Hollywood, it was all about her very meteoric rise. Born into an average middle class family in Mumbai, Persis went on to become one of the youngest and most prolific model in India. Entering the Miss Universe contest on clothes purchased, last minute off the rack, almost defined Persis, she had this air of non chalance despite all of her success.
And yes, this was success. Not just your average South Asian showing up in Hollywood and getting a part or two, no Sir, Persis actually had roles written around her and shared screenspace and screen presence with the best of them. She would stand out in the crowd, very easily, even if that crowd was established actors. Maybe it was her Mumbai chutzpah, maybe because it was the era. Persis went on to successful parts in Star Trek the motion picture, Night Hawks, Megaforce, Warrior of the Lost World, this after a very small, but spectacular debut, in KA Abbas’s Bambai Raat Ki Baahon Mein.
Post a horrendous car accident, Persis, made her first comeback to Mumbai, with the television series, Shinghora, produced by Nari Hira of Stardust. This was pre the onset of mega television programming in India.
There was way more to Persis, than just acting. She authored a coffee table book on Miss India winners, called Pride of India. Persis was just about getting ready for another major onslaught on the world of acting, in both Hollywood and Bollywood, when death claimed her, in Mumbai.
India and the world of acting had lost a true pioneer of global acting, while still in her prime. Although having seen her as the glam diva, few could visualize her getting old, so perhaps there was some poetic justice in the phrase, “the good and good looking die young.”
But, Persis has left her indelible mark, across the globe and as a fine Indian Ambassador.