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The Hollywood/Bollywood Connection

The Hollywood/Bollywood Connection (photo)

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Long before “Jai Ho” entered the international lexicon, the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood had already been shrinking. In distinctly Western style, much of the action has occurred behind the scenes: Indian cable TV magnate and Bollywood producer Ronnie Screwvala’s UTV Software Communications has co-produced the latest Hollywood films from Indian filmmakers M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”) and Mira Nair (“The Namesake”), in addition to making financing deals with Sony and Will Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment; Disney and Warner Brothers have begun to finance their own Bollywood productions; and last year, Reliance, one of India’s biggest producer of Bollywood films, made production pacts with the companies of Nicolas Cage, George Clooney and Brad Pitt before making their biggest coup — financing DreamWorks, an investment that allowed the Steven Spielberg-led studio to leave its deal at Paramount.

However, Hollywood and Bollywood have been a little less quick to embrace putting their stars in each other’s movies, though the road from Mumbai to Melrose is getting shorter by the day. It’s gotten to the point in pop culture where Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan can introduce “Slumdog Millionaire” at this year’s Golden Globes and Natalie Portman can play a Bollywood princess in her then-boyfriend Devendra Banhart’s music video “Carmensita” without anyone batting a curled eyelash. As for actual feature films, here are a few examples of when East has met West in recent years:

05222009_brideandprejudice.jpgAishwarya Rai in “Bride and Prejudice”

If there’s been any actor or actress poised to crossover from Bollywood into Hollywood, Aishwarya Rai has been the leading candidate for years. Having already been deigned the most beautiful woman in the world by none other than Julia Roberts, the Bombay bombshell has been slumming it in bit parts in big-budget Western flops like “The Pink Panther 2” and the epic “The Last Legion” in between Bollywood jobs, yet her best shot so far at conquering Hollywood came with the lead in Gurinder Chadha’s 2004 musical take on Jane Austen’s classic. Fresh off the surprising success of “Bend it Like Beckham,” Chadha had the leverage to shoot a Bollywood-style romp on Miramax’s dime and cast the largely unknown-in-America Rai as Elizabeth Bennet stand-in Lalita C. Bakshi opposite then up-and-comers Martin Henderson and Alexis Bledel. Not surprisingly, the film grossed nearly triple overseas what it did domestically, but the disappointing U.S. box office didn’t prevent Chadha from pushing Rai further onto Western audiences with a film that her husband (Paul Mayeda Berges) directed, the little-seen 2005 fantasy “The Mistress of Spices,” which starred Rai and Dylan McDermott.

05222009_kambakkht-Ishq.jpgSylvester Stallone in “Kambakkht Ishq”

Audiences will have to wait until “The Expendables” to see Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the same frame of celluloid, but the Bollywood buzz machine worked overtime to spread rumors of the first onscreen collaboration between ’80s action icons in the 2009 Indian action comedy. It proved too good to be true, as only Stallone could commit to a cameo in the Akshay Kumar starrer (much of which can be seen in the film’s trailer), in which Kumar plays a stunt double looking for love as his career in the West takes off, appropriately enough, with a gig as Brandon Routh’s stunt double in “Superman.” Routh appears as himself, as does Denise Richards, who was reportedly so thrilled with the experience she told the Times Online, “Bollywood is so unexpectedly awesome!” Audiences will be able to decide for themselves when the film unspools internationally in August.

05222009_Marigold4.jpgAli Larter in “Marigold”

If you’re ever trolling the aisles of Blockbuster and notice “Heroes” star Ali Larter on a box cover in full-on Indian regalia, you’ve stumbled onto “Playing By Heart” director Willard Carroll’s attempt to “bridge the gap between Indian and American cinema.” Sadly, the film never scarcely made it to theaters, but does hold the distinction of being the first to bring American stars to Bollywood, as well as feature one of the latter’s biggest stars, Salman Khan, in the lead. Larter plays an actress stranded in Goa after she believes she’s been cast in one film and winds up with only a bit part in a Bollywood musical, with Kahn playing the musical’s choreographer who helps her with more than her moves. But don’t let your mind wander too far — Khan only agreed to take the part if the kissing scenes were excised, something that the star is still averse of even when starring opposite Bollywood starlets.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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