A Niche Indian Actress Is Thrust Into Hollywood’s Spotlight

Sobhita Dhulipala considers herself an outsider — wherever she is.

She grew up in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, making her an outsider in the country’s financial and fashion capital, Mumbai. Her native tongue is Telugu, making her an outsider in predominantly Hindi-speaking Bollywood.

And now, with the release on Friday of the high-octane, Jordan Peele-produced “Monkey Man,” in which she stars alongside Dev Patel, she is again an outsider, thrust into Hollywood’s limelight. In fact, the premiere of the film at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, last month was the first time Ms. Dhulipala, 31, had ever set foot on American soil.

“In India, I’m South Indian,” Ms. Dhulipala, who lives in Mumbai, said in a video interview from her hotel room in Los Angeles. “When I come to America, I’m Indian.”

“It’s amazing that I get to come to this country with a film,” she added. “It’s like I come with an offering.”

In the Amazon Prime series “Made in Heaven,” Ms. Dhulipala portrayed a social climber, navigating her way to ever higher rungs of Indian society.Credit…Amazon Prime Video India

That real-life feeling of being an outsider is the undercurrent for many of her onscreen roles. In the Amazon Prime series “Made in Heaven,” Ms. Dhulipala’s character is a low-income nobody who schemes her way into upper-class circles. In “Monkey Man,” she plays Sita, a call girl whose business is the pleasure of powerful but despicable men.

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