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Friday, December 2, 2022

It is never too late to pursue a career as a Bollywood actor

Many believed Richard Klein had a fairly wonderful life: a stable career as an elementary school teacher in Oakland, Calif.; friends who were like family; and a love for singing and dancing that consumed his evenings and weekends. But Klein’s life was cut short by a tragic accident. However, one morning, when he was 45 years old, he awoke with the realisation that he had not yet reached his full potential. He wanted to enter into the Bollywood industry.

“I’ve always enjoyed performing, and I was listening to a lot of Indian classical and devotional music at the time,” Mr. Klein said of his musical influences. The 2001 Bollywood epic “Lagaan” served as an inspiration for him to pursue his love as a vocation. “It’s like everything has gone full circle,” he remarked, noting that he would feature in the 2022 film “Lal Singh Chaddha” alongside Aamir Khan, who also appeared in “Lagaan” as a supporting actor.

Mr. Klein, who is divorced and does not have children, relocated to Mumbai six months after that fatal morning in June. At first, he only visited the seaside city on a seasonal basis. When he wasn’t working at his Mumbai job writing subtitles for English-language television series, he was instructing in California, where he could earn enough money to support himself for another six months while attempting to make it in India’s performing arts scene.

It everything came to fruition in the end. Mr. Klein, now 55, has appeared in dozens of Indian films, television shows, and commercials, portraying characters as diverse as scientists, doctors, chefs, spies, and, thanks to his ability to pull off a convincing British accent, quite often, “mean British officers.” Mr. Klein is married with two children.

Traveling to India for the first time was in 1995, when I was a traveller. It was a complete and utter delight. After that, I went back a couple more times.  All of the performers were from other countries. When we got back together, we began to chatting, and I ended up joining their group as a vocalist, which was my first step into the performing arts industry in this country.

About four years after relocating to Mumbai, I began receiving offers for voice-over work, including business presentations, television and radio advertising that required an American or British accent, among other things. After that, I began receiving requests to dub Bollywood films. After that, I was invited to an acting tryout.

I’d want to continue working in the industry. There’s still so much more to discover. Many people have given me positive comments, and the portions are growing better and more diverse as time goes on. I don’t usually portray a ruthless British officer these days. I’m receiving more and more diverse jobs, as well as larger ones, and I’m earning more respect. “X = Prem,” a wonderful sci-fi love tale that will be released in February, has me as the lead character. It’s my fourth time collaborating with Srijit Mukherji, the director of the film.

Having the chance to be the greatest version of myself is a huge benefit of my being here. In the United States, I didn’t experience the same sense of potential. I get the impression that people in this place perceive me the way I want to be seen. I’m not sure why this is happening. Actually, I believe that it all comes down to my irrational affection for this city.

Start with a grandiose idea, then find out what all of the little incremental steps are needed to get there, then do them one at a time until you reach your destination. There will always be roadblocks. Obstacles might include family and friends, as well as a lack of financial resources. It’s not an easy task. There is a great deal of sacrifice required, yet it is possible to dream large and see your dreams come true.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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