All eyes were on Hollywood action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, as he sat on stage with actors Vivek Oberoi and Gulshan Grover at this event by CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) in Delhi, Times of India reported.
Van Damme started the session by praising Indians, saying, “People here are fantastic, from the airport to the hotel.”
This set the tone for the session, as the panellists, besides confessing their admiration for Van Damme, also talked about how global audiences perceive Indian cinema.
Ashok Amritraj, who unveiled his book Advantage Hollywood, talked about his journey from being a tennis player to becoming a Hollywood producer.
“Thirty years go, Hollywood was very much a closed world. I used to play tennis with all the top guys. But surprisingly, everybody wanted to play tennis with me, but nobody wanted to make a film,” he recalled, adding, “It took me a lot of bad tennis games to actually break into Hollywood!”
The producer also praised the likes of Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who were ‘outsiders’ in Hollywood, but made efforts to learn the ‘language, learn the system and break the barriers’.
Van Damme shared how he hit it off instantly with Amritraj owing to the same kind of story.
“He came with tennis and I came to Hollywood with martial arts. It was hard for both of us to succeed,” he said.
Gulshan called himself the ‘pioneer of a Bollywood transition to Hollywood’.
“Initially, when I started out, I was told things like, ‘You need to work on your accent’ and ‘you can’t be living in Mumbai and working in Hollywood’. But when Hugh Grant lives in France and works in Hollywood, why can’t I? I’ve been an example of commercial Bollywood talent making an impact in Hollywood. I’ve been followed by my colleagues Irrfan, Anil Kapoor, Anupam Kher, Amitabh Bachchan, etc.”
Van Damme, who’s also called ‘Muscles from Brussels’, confessed to being a fan of Indian films.
“I’m a very big fan of your movies. I think you should have a training school where fantastic Indian actors could be trained for Hollywood. You have the talent and the gift,” he said.
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