10 little known facts about Ben Kingsley, who is the voice of Bhageera in The Jungle Book
He won out hearts with his mind-blowing portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s timeless biopic, Gandhi (1983). He has since given us many more memorable performances in films such as Schinder’s List and Shutter Island.
Now, Sir Ben Kingsley has added yet another feather to his already brimming cap, lending his baritone to the lovable Bhageera in the latest edition of Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’. The movie has captivated audiences worldwide, and has been declared a top grosser in India also, edging out the mighty ‘king khan’ in the process! While we’re quite kicked with this ‘panther’ avatar in the Jungle book, we bring you 10 little known facts about the legendary actor:
1. His name is Krishna Pandit Bhanji
Born to a Gujarati father and a British mother, Kingsley’s stage name is a combination of his father’s nickname (Benji) and his grandfather’s nickname (King Cloves). Interestingly, the initials of his stage name (BK) are the reversal of his birth name (KB).
2. Gandhi was only his second film
Ben Kingsley made his stage debut back in 1966. But he didn’t receive international recognition until the 1983 biopic. Kingsley considers it an extraordinary coincidence that five days before Richard Attenborough called him for the role, he was given a library book on Gandhi.
3. He could have been a musician
Aside from dramatics, Kingsley had a keen interest in music during the early stages of his career. In fact, he made his stage debut as the narrator of 1966 musical, “A Smashing Boy,” for which he wrote the music, sang and played the guitar as well. It was produced by The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein and after the show, John Lennon and Ringo Starr reportedly met Kingsley backstage and advised him to go into music.
Producer Dick James, who worked for The Beatles at the time, even offered him to take him under his wing. However, Kingsley chose to stick to acting.
4. He was awarded the Padma Shri
Following his Oscar-winning performance in Gandhi, Ben Kingsley was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1984. Amongst his other honours, Kingsley was knighted in 2002 and awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.
5. He once played Dr. Watson
Hard to believe, but Kinglsey did play the famous sidekick in the 1988 movie, Without a Clue, alongside Michael Caine, who played Sherlock Holmes.
6. He was once nominated in Worst Supporting Actor category
That’s true. Even Oscar-winning actors have their low moments. Ben Kingsley received a Razzie Nomination in the Worst Supporting Actor category for his performance in the film BloodRayne (2005).
7. He was approached for a Bollywood movie
Kinglsey was reportedly approached for the role of Srinath ‘Guruji’ Vardhan in the 2005 Ajai Devgn starrer, Shikhar. But he declined the role as he was not comfortable speaking Hindi. The role eventually went to Javed Shaikh.
8. He has a movie with Aishwarya Rai
He might have turned down an opportunity to star in a Hindi movie. But Kingsley did renew his association with Bollywood in 2007 when he worked alongside Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the 2007 movie, The Last Legion.
Here’s what he had to say about working with Aishwarya
“It was a pleasure working with Aishwarya in The Last Legion (2007), and her fans are in for a big surprise. She is an excellent and outstanding actor. She is a shining example of beauty from India, and I’m sure we will be seeing her in more Hollywood movies real soon.”
9. He’s a very, very bad man!
He might have played a righteous man in Gandhi, or in Schindler’s List, but of late, Kinglsey is better known for his negative roles, in which he puts his deep voice to good use. In fact, Hollywood loves him as a British villain.
10. He starred in the Hollywood remake of A Wednesday
Remember the 2008 movie starring Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher that we all loved? Well, it marked one of the rare instances of Hollywood borrowing an Indian idea and producing a remake. Kingsley reprised Naseeruddin’s role in A Common Man, directed by Chandran Rutnam and released in 2013.
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