W

atch Anjali Jay’s luminous brown eyes brighten the screen in her film debut, Blind Dating, and it’s hard to imagine her reflecting anything but sheer femininity. Ask her about the first day of shooting, though, and she’ll tell you she spent a bulk of it knocking over the set.

“I walked into cameras, make-up ladies, and bumped into every bit of scenery you could find,” she says, chuckling warmly. On screen, she’s Leeza, the endearingly ladylike Indian American nurse, responsible for snagging the heart of a handsome but blind patient, Danny (Chris Pine). But when cameras aren’t rolling, she trades Leeza’s demure smile for an unfaltering British accent, laced with her hearty signature laugh.

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“I’d read the script, and knew it needed a director to give it a good, happy shape,” she says about Blind Dating, scheduled to hit theaters this Friday, May 11. As Leeza and Danny discover their feelings for one another, they navigate a dizzying array of hurdles—physiological, cultural and emotional—to keep their relationship afloat. “It’s a well-written story with warm humor; it’s got this inclusive warmth, not exclusive wit,” Jay explains. As for her take on interracial relationships, one of the main themes the film explores, she’s pretty clear: “In this day and age, they work as much as any other relationship works or doesn’t work. In the end, it’s all about a sense of humor and always having something to talk about.”

For the London-based actress whose prior stints have been mainly on stage—she recently played Jamila in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s rendition of Midnight’s ChildrenBlind Dating marks her first official foray into cinema. “When you’re onstage, you build up a theatrical stamina, you have to teach yourself not to anticipate things because you’ve done it 50 times before. With film, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t anticipate again, but with the cameras this time,” she explains. “The main difference between film and theater is the focus of energy.”

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Chris Pine kisses Anjali Jay in Blind Dating.

Whatever the focus, there’s no doubt that Jay oozes energy, evident from her current whirlwind schedule that shuttles her between London and the “gracious, beautiful city” of Budapest. It’s where her latest project, Robin Hood, a 13-part series for BBC One, is being filmed. Jay plays Djaq (pronounced Jack), a science-savvy outlaw and a new addition to Robin Hood’s crew of Merry Men. “It’s a very physical show, there’s lots of running around,” she adds enthusiastically. It’s apparent that Djaq’s a far cry from Leeza, but Jay unabashedly embraces the challenge. “Leeza was so unapologetically female, and I adored the femininity of her character. But Djaq’s a kick-ass chick.”

In real life, Jay seems more like a spunky fusion of the two. She was raised in Bangalore, India, in what she calls a “bohemian” atmosphere. “I kind of grew up with artists,” she says. “I guess, if anything, you could call it our family business.” In addition to her grandparents, both classical dance teachers, she was constantly surrounded by singers and actors, who fueled and nurtured her passion for the theater. It has been 10 years since Jay found herself at London’s Laban Centre for Movement and Dance. “If I was to question that journey, it would make no sense,” she admits. “But my family has always understood that I wanted to work in the performance field and they’ve been very supportive.”

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Her unorthodox background leads us to question whether it was particularly challenging to play Leeza, whose parents own an Indian restaurant and waste no time in engineering an arranged marriage to the covertly sleazy, Kama Sutra-obsessed Arvind, played by Heroes hottie Sendhil Ramamurthy. “I grew up with friends whose families were more like the one Leeza had,” she shares. “Ultimately, I don’t think there is one type of Indian family—to say that would be like making a blanket statement about a Subcontinent.” As for working alongside NBC’s heartthrob du jour, she immediately describes Ramamurthy as “a lovely, lovely, lovely man. I don’t have one bad word to say about him,” she gushes.

We can’t help but wonder whether she will soon achieve the status that South Asian stars like Ramamurthy enjoy. She’s already been compared to another stunning English export who has made waves stateside—Parminder Nagra. But Jay doesn’t seem to mind. “I think Parminder’s great,” she says, delighted. So what’s next on the agenda, and does she want to focus on the American film scene after Blind Dating? “We’ve all grown up watching American movies,” she says. “But in the end, whatever happens, happens. It’s hard not to get excited,” she confesses. “In fact, I dare you not to get excited at the thought of working on a film. I’ve discovered that there are so many talented people, not just performers, but behind the camera and behind the scenes. And they all come together to create this beautiful lie.”n

Aarti Jhaveri lives in New York. She has yet to go on a blind date.
Published on May 7, 2007.
Photography: Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films

More Information

Anjali Jay on IMDB.com
Blind Dating Official Web Site

Watch the trailer

Blind Dating on Apple.com

Comments are closed.
  1. May 7, 2007, 7:32 pm Carlitos

    Yeahyy Aarti !!!

    I’m so proud !

  2. May 8, 2007, 8:30 am Sarah

    Wow, great story. It’s so exciting to hear about new desi talent like Anjali, it’s really refreshing to see such a big wave of brown faces on the big and small screens these days!

  3. May 11, 2007, 10:30 am Gautham

    How schocking, another movie about a repressed Indian woman, here creepy desi beau and the magnanimous white guy who saves her from her savage culture. When will this shit get old?

    Better yet, when will we get a male desi lead who is not a comic sidekick, a weirdo pervert or completely emasculated social misfit (Kal Penn, I’m looking at you).

  4. May 12, 2007, 3:24 pm William F. russell

    Kudos to Anjali on her burgeoning career _ I hope to meet her this summer when her brother marries my niece!

    Bill

  5. May 20, 2007, 6:12 pm Steph

    It is nice to see more color on television. However, I agree with Gautham. Isn’t it kinda odd that the actress states that you can’t make a blanket statement about an entire continent of people and yet the plot is so sterotypical and played out that its not even funny? Alas, thats the world we live in.

  6. June 4, 2007, 4:01 pm Sergey

    Привет всем! Мне очень понравиляся фильм, возможно вы меня не понимаете но я думаю кино обьеденяет нас , и не важно на каком языке мы говорим.
    Спасибо режисёру за замечательный фильм.
    PS:Привет всем из Украины

  7. November 3, 2007, 1:52 pm fat joe

    i really2 love anjali in this movie…i wanna know her more deep…she’s damn cute…any1 know where can i get her photos? please do email me at dealova20@yahoo.com

  8. January 1, 2008, 10:10 am Reality Stars Network

    I watched this film recently because a friend recommended it and enjoyed it alot. Good camera work and editing. Anjali Jay was great; she also appears in Robin Hood, the BBC TV series.

  9. February 17, 2008, 4:56 am Jomercepj

    Anjanli acted excellent in this film.This is the first time I found an Indian born actress so seamlessly integrated in a Hollywood story line.

  10. May 1, 2008, 1:37 pm azad

    wonderfull

  11. July 31, 2008, 6:07 am Bibek Majhi

    A think of beauty is joy for eve

  12. September 5, 2008, 8:36 pm magui

    hola…a mi la peli me gusto mucho …tiene mucho sentimiento y transparencia…

  13. October 26, 2008, 2:38 pm Anjali patel

    cool

  14. December 7, 2008, 8:44 am Vimal

    she is amazing…..just amazing..

  15. December 13, 2008, 3:31 pm buffwarrior

    Wonderful.. brand new fan.. what a beauty. Great movie and I want to see much more of this actress…