Hyderabad-born actor Vandit Bhatt speaks about the Indian diaspora and acting with Priyanka Chopra
Indian-American actor Vandit Bhatt believes in chasing his dreams, one project at a time. He has had a great year with Quantico’s third season and is now gearing up for his next show, New Amsterdam. One of the main characters in Quantico, he bolstered the representation of the Indian diaspora in mainstream American entertainment, as one of the members of the elite black ops team, along with Priyanka Chopra. “Being a part of those shows has given me an opportunity to work with some fantastic actors, challenge myself and hopefully grow from the experience,” says the Hyderabad Public School alumnus, who is currently based out of the US.
Born and raised in Hyderabad, the 34-year-old maintains that some of his fondest memories revolve around food and movies. “Besides family, I miss the food. So much! Especially the biryani and the kebabs. I also miss playing cricket, riding my scooter around the city, riding in autos, the amazing markets where you can buy anything, how movies become an event in Hyderabad, the unassuming restaurants with the best food, and many more things,” reminisces the actor, who is currently shooting for New Amsterdam with actor Anupam Kher.
Vandit is one of those actors who has been catapulted into the national consciousness as ABC’s Quantico reached the television screens of around three million viewers. However, breaking the stereotype of playing confused desis or those with a heavy accent isn’t always easy for actors of Asian origin. But Vandit is happy, because things are changing. “I think both the audience and social media have a lot to do with it. I believe people want to see stories and characters that are beyond stereotypes and reflect the complexity of the time we live in. The industry, in turn, is listening as well. This year, I have seen so much diversity on TV than I have seen in a long time,” says the Younger actor, adding that the writers of New Amsterdam have attempted to focus on the complexity of each character, no matter what their origin is. “I think every character on the show defies the stereotype and that’s a step in the right direction,” he says. Although he has been in the US for longer than a decade, Vandit says that Bollywood is “pretty much a part of his DNA”. So, when he got a chance to share screen space with actress Priyanka Chopra, he leaped at the opportunity. “I learnt so much from her. From my first day on set, she was incredibly generous and made sure I felt like I was part of the Quantico family. I was born and raised on Bollywood, so I couldn’t have passed on the chance to work with her,” says Vandit, excitedly. However, what also made him happy was to work with Anupam Kher, the first actor he watched on a big screen in India. Admitting that he does hope to be a part of a Bollywood potboiler one day, he has a long list of directors he would like to collaborate with. “Vishal Bhardwaj, Rajkumar Hirani, Zoya Akhtar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shoojit Sircar and Anurag Kashyap are the people I’d love to work in Bollywood,” he says.