“It was kind of a fish-out- of-water experience for myself, being your ‘American-Born, Confused Desi,’ going to India and getting submerged in the culture.” — Anisha Nagarajan
ISSUE: Spring 2011
STORY: Katrina Guevara with reporting by Anna M. Park
As Madhuri, the wallflower call center worker on NBC’s hit series Outsourced, Anisha Nagarajan does shy-but-optimistic well. Sure, some question the portrayals of South Asians on the show, which follows an American relocated to India to manage a call center for an Americana novelties company, but Nagarajan sees it a different way.
“I think the show is great exposure for Indian actors, actresses and writers. A third of our writing staff is of Indian descent. It’s giving a lot of Indian artists opportunities and ways to shine,” says the 25-year-old Indian American (with no hint of Madhuri’s accent). “I think watching the show, you’re going to get some insight into our culture in a more accessible way because you’re seeing it though the eyes of [an American expat].”
It was the way Nagarajan was first introduced to Indian culture herself when, at 15, she moved there from Pittsburgh to attend boarding school. “It was kind of a fish-out- of-water experience for myself, being your ‘American-Born, Confused Desi,’ going to India and getting submerged in the culture,” she says.
She returned with a greater appreciation for her native culture and began pursuing that childhood dream of an artistic career, something her parents had always supported, she says. While a student at New York University, Nagarajan landed a role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musical Bombay Dreams, something that jumpstarted her career (and her relationship with co-star and now-husband Aalok Mehta).
Nagarajan currently splits her time between Los Angeles and New York (she has three more courses to go at NYU), and she’ll continuing doing “the bicoastal thing” now that Outsourced has been picked up for another season and her character is really starting to evolve. “[Madhuri’s] got a lot more to her than meets the eye,” says Nagarajan. “She actually knows a lot about a lot and she is very savvy. It’s going be fun to see how people react to the surprises that she’s going to show everyone.”
— Katrina Guevara, with reporting by AMP
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