Here's how Ali Fazal has set new benchmarks for Indian actors in Hollywood

Published: 15 October, 2020 14:36 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

As Ali Fazal rings in his 34th birthday today, here's a look at his achievements

Ali Fazal. Picture/PR
Ali Fazal. Picture/PR

Ali Fazal has made a mark not only in Bollywood, but also in Hollywood. The actor impressed all with his cameo in Furious 7, after which he gained popularity in the West on landing Victoria And Abdul alongside Dame Judi Dench. With his next international release, Death on the Nile, around the corner, the actor has already been roped in for the lead part in Code Name Johnny Walker, based on the bestseller by the same name. As the actor rings in his 34th birthday today, here's a look at his achievements:

One of the youngest Indian Academy members

Fazal was one of the youngest members of the Academy from India. In 2018, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences extended an invitation to 928 artistes to be part of the Oscars membership. Fazal was the youngest Indian on the list that year alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Tabu, Anil Kapoor, and Madhuri Dixit, amongst others. In an interview, Fazal said, "I feel exhilarated, honoured and humbled to be included in that list of beautiful people.cinema is the key to unite people from all over the world. The academy is a standing example of that and I hope I serve well in the forthcoming years of entertainment."

First Indian to land a titular role in an international film

With the conversation around lack of representation intensifying in the West, it was a landmark move for the makers of Victoria and Abdul to cast Ali in a titular role for the film. It was a first for any Indian actor. Ali had remarked in an interview that the sheer representation opened doors for writers to look at talent in India. He had said in an interview during the promotions, "With Victoria and Abdul, we finally broke the stigma around an Indian artist to get a lead role in a Hollywood movie. Indian cinema is out there now, on the world stage."

First Indian to bag a biopic in the West

Codename Johnny Walker, his next, is written by Alan Wenkus, the former writer of famed chat show - The Tonight Show and Straight Outta Compton - for which he got an Academy Nomination. It's the first time that an Indian artiste will be playing the lead in a western biopic.

He's surrounded by legends

The one solid yardstick of Ali's success is the fact that the actor has been surrounded by great talent throughout his career in the West. From working with the Academy Award-winning actress Judi Dench and the Academy nominee Stephen Frears in Victoria and Abdul to working with the talented Kenneth Branagh (who has multiple Academy nominations to his name) to even working with Wenkus, who has written the screenplay of his next, the actor keeps the company of great artistes and aspires to better his craft everyday learning from the masters themselves.

Named as the top 10 actors to watch out for

In a 2017 yearly list close on the heels of Victoria and Abdul's release, Ali was seen as one of the actors to watch out for by the popular Variety Magazine in the US. The actor was named alongside Timothee Chalamet, Kiersey Clemons, Daveed Diggs, Kumail Nanjiani, Grace Van Patte amongst others. The past awardees of this honour have names like the Oscar-winning actresses Lupita N'yongo and Viola Davis.

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  • 1/17

    Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha met on the sets of their 2013 film Fukrey. The duo became good friends, and eventually started dating in 2016. However, it was in 2017 that the couple made their relationship official when Richa accompanied Ali for the premiere of the latter's Hollywood film Victoria And Abdul at the Venice Film Festival. Pictures from the event went viral. (All photos/Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal's official Instagram account and AFP)

  • 2/17

    However, rumours of Ali and Richa's relationship were termed as a promotional gimmick for their film Fukrey Returns (2017) by a certain section of the media. Richa shut gossip mongers by stating that she and Ali Fazal are not faking a relationship.

  • 3/17

    "I feel sad for those who think Ali and I are faking our relationship," she told mid-day in December 2017. Alluding to a storyline that appeared to pair her alongside Varun Sharma's character in Fukrey, Choocha, she added, "If I had to start a love rumour to promote the film, I would have done it with Choocha. Ali and I never wanted to talk about our relationship publicly because we knew this is how people would react. People should use their brains before passing comments. I hope they get the right message after reading this."

  • 4/17

    It was almost in 2016 that tongues started wagging about Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha's affection for each other. Chadha revealed further that they've been "in a happy space for a long time".

  • 5/17

    "Ali and I have known each other since we were doing theatre. Speculations were rife since then. People weren't surprised when the media published it. In fact, the media was the last to know about it," said Richa Chadha.

  • 6/17

    Richa Chadha's arrival at the LA premiere of Ali Fazal's British film, Victoria & Abdul, in September 2017, appeared to be the validation that the media was seeking about their affair. Talking about the same, Richa said the comprehension was fitting, after all, "it was obvious that I would not go so far if we were only friends."

  • 7/17

    Usually tight-lipped about her personal life, Richa Chadha admitted the revelation then was unavoidable, "But I feel it's always good to avoid conversation about it (a romance) as it preserves the sanctity of the relationship."

  • 8/17

    Well, circa 2019, the lovebirds couldn't stop displaying their affection on social media. Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha have often been seen involved in some PDA.

  • 9/17

    At the Vogue Beauty Awards 2018, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal were felicitated with 'Most Beautiful Couple Award', which was earlier given to Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput in 2017.

  • 10/17

    Richa Chadha celebrated her birthday on December 18 and in 2018, finding time from their busy schedule, Ali Fazal planned a surprise birthday getaway for his girlfriend. Ali whisked her off to the Maldives.

  • 11/17

    Ali Fazal shared this adorable photo, as Richa Chadha turned a year older and wrote a cute message along with the picture: One of my all time favourite photographs of life.. i miss . Arey Mohabbat. Happy Birthday. Yeh nahi jaanta kitna lamba hai safar.. Main shayad jaanta hoon kitna lamba hai safar. Kal bataaoonga. Tum milna . Waheen. Khaton ke teele pe . Kaagaz tumhaara hoga, kalam-dawaat meri, likhaayi tumhaari, chand bol mere, afsaane tumhaare, ghazlein meri, yeh silsila mera, yeh daastaan-e-mohabbat hamari [sic]"

  • 12/17

    In 2020, for the July issue of Brides Today magazine, Richa and Ali opened up about how they met on the sets of Fukrey in 2012. Richa in the interview talked about when she knew Fazal was the one. "We were at my house watching the 1992 biographical comedy, Chaplin. I was happy to see him enjoy the movie and grateful to have found someone with similar tastes. That is when I said, 'I love you,'" she recounts, laughing that it took him three months to say the words back to her.

  • 13/17

    On the other hand, Ali Fazal revealed it was her clumsiness that stole his heart. "She thinks I fell in love with her because of her clumsiness and honestly, it is one of the reasons. If she is eating, food will be all over the place, drinks will be spilled and cutlery dropped," jokes the actor, adding that Kuki — as he fondly addresses Chadha — had a classic 'Pretty Woman' moment in Venice. "It was at a fine dining event and Judi Dench was sitting at the next table. Suddenly, a bean went flying over! Of course, it was from Richa's plate."

  • 14/17

    The story of how Ali Fazal popped the question is as romantic as it is endearing. Richa Chadha narrates, "He had planned a romantic dinner on a secluded island in the Maldives. I thought it was for my birthday and didn't suspect a thing. We were sipping on champagne when Ali, being his spontaneous self, asked me to marry him. He didn't go down on his knee, nor did he have a ring, but that's alright." Before you go aww, Chadha delivers the punch line. "After that, he took a 10-minute nap on the sand. I guess he was stressed about the proposal!"

  • 15/17

    Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal were supposed to get married in April this year (2020) but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to postpone it. A spokesperson for the actors informed us that owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple has decided to postpone their wedding. Here's what the statement reads: "Given the current scenario and the unfortunate turn of events owing to the COVID-19 pandemic globally, Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha have decided to postpone their wedding functions to the latter half of 2020 tentatively. They wish for everyone to be healthy and safe and at no cost would want their friends, families and well-wishers to be affected."

  • 16/17

    But recently Ali Fazal revealed that the wedding has been postponed until further notice. Fazal in an interview talked about it and said, "It has been delayed until further notice. I think we will celebrate with the world when everything is open again. We have something to celebrate... some good news hopefully, that everyone will get and we'll make sure to bring that along with our wedding. Until then, we're following all the rules of the lockdown and awaiting the next steps."

  • 17/17

    Stay tuned with us for further updates on the couple's wedding!

    PS: Happy birthday, Ali!

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