Regular readers of TER know that I have something of a fascination with the British actress Parminder Nagra, who was the star of the movie Bend It Like Beckham and is now a member of the ensemble cast of the long-running NBC drama ER. Nagra was born in 1975 in Leicester in the United Kingdom and is of Punjabi Indian heritage.
I have been following Nagra’s progress on something called The Hollywood Stock Exchange, which tracks the opinions of virtual investors as to the star value of movies, directors, and actors. I have written a few times on how this celebrity might yet become an even bigger celebrity. (All of these pieces can be found in my Culture index.)
This attention is not simply the result of a middle-aged teenage crush – although I do think that Parminder Nagra is one of the most beautiful women active in media that are full of beautiful women.
Beyond her stunning beauty, Nagra is notable because she has one of the greatest natural acting talents of any actor or actress now active in movies and television in this country and Europe. Her talent as an actress is comparable to that of Sarah Vaughan as a singer, Ted Williams as a baseball hitter, or David Beckham as a soccer scorer.
In an interview with USA Today about four years ago, Nagra made the comment that “I can pretty much tell the whole story through my eyes.” At first, I thought that this was simply the boast of an out-of-control ego. Now, having seen more of her work, I believe that Nagra was making a matter-of-fact assessment of her own talent – the thing that got her from Leicester to London to Hollywood. Nagra is unexcelled at the non-verbal element of her craft. This is one reason that cameras – particularly movie cameras – seem to love her face.
Nagra has not had many movie and television roles that have been well-known in the United States. She has the potential to have many more – and far more prominent – roles based on her talent and beauty. With luck and a willingness to pay the price that Hollywood demands, I believe that she could become one of the iconic actresses of the first half of the 21st century – much as Ingrid Bergman was in the middle decades of the 20th.
Nagra’s ethnic background should not hold her back in this regard. America is becoming an ever more diverse place, including a growing South Asian population. If this country’s voters can seriously think - as they are - of electing a President of the United States named Barack Obama, this country’s moviegoers should support an A-list potential Oscar winner named Parminder Nagra.
In order to get where she could go – and ought to go – Nagra will need roles. To do this, she will need to convince producers of her bankability. Her current role in ER is not bad in this regard – it certainly has brought her to a wider audience – but ER will not last forever – nor should it. People need to see her in the medium that most fits her talents - the movies.
Fortunately, her fans – and those who are curious – will have an opportunity to see some new work of Nagra’s. In Your Dreams, a film directed by British Director Gary Sinyor, is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May. (The photo above is a still from the film.) This movie is about a little boy whose heart is broken.
Now he's grown up to be an embittered dentist, he's done nothing, gone nowhere AND he has a step-mother from hell. One day he suffers a mysterious accident - and suddenly finds that whatever he dreams comes true. Suddenly a whole new life opens up for him. (Description from Magnetfilms)
Hopefully, this movie will get some manner of theatrical release in this country - and not go straight to DVD or Pay-Per-View. As I suggested in November, perhaps this is where the new world of the Internet can come into play. Websites like Parminder Nagra Online might be able to generate the sort of buzz that might convince producers to try for a wide theatrical release in this country - the sort that is needed for Parminder Nagra to continue to her potential.
UPDATE, APRIL 6, 2007: Parminder Nagra's upward potential has been noted by the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which assigns value to movies, directors, and actors like a stock market (except that it uses virtual dollars). As noted here, Nagra's value at HSX has nearly doubled in the past month - from $7.81 per share to $14.96. I believe that this increase will continue.