"Do you speak Hindi", "Your name sounds so western". Christian actors in Hindi showbiz often face such questions and remarks but say they are striving hard to break stereotypes.
Erica Fernandes, Jennifer Winget and Vivian Dsena are among those who have made a mark with their talent in the Indian television industry.
"We have a few Christians in the industry. Of course, we are here to break the stereotypes. Initially, my Hindi was not too good as I used to mostly converse in English. Daily soaps have taught me how to speak well in Hindi and I am thankful for this," Erica told IANS.
Erica is currently seen as the traditionally-rooted but strong and opinionated Prerna in the remake of hit show "Kasautii Zindagii Kay". Initially, she faced a lot of criticism from the audience for her voice.
But her show's producer Ekta Kapoor defended her and said: "All criticism on Prerna's voice has made her work hard and as you all have noticed, she sounds very different now. But I preferred her earlier voice… bass and raw."
Vivian, who rose to fame with his role of a vampire in TV show "Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani", told IANS: "It's a myth that Christians don't speak good Hindi. Hindi is a part of my life, my culture. My Hindi is fluent. Hindi was taught to me in school and it is the language of the country I live in. When it is your mother tongue, you are supposed to be knowing it by default."
As far as names go, Vivian said: "'What's in a name?' William Shakespeare had said. One's name can be anything."
Talking of Christian talent creating waves in Indian television, one can't forget actors like Jennifer Winget, Vikrant Massey and Krystle D'souza.
Having started her career as a child artiste in films like AKELE HUM AKELE TUM and KUCH NAA KAHO, it was the world of television which made Jennifer a popular face. With daily soaps like "Dill Mill Gayye", "Beyhadh" and "Bepannaah", she garnered a huge fan base with her versatile roles.
She had earlier commented: "I have been fortunate enough to be offered characters and projects that challenge me and that are different from the characters I have played. I am just very lucky to be given opportunities time and again."
Jennifer, along with Krystle and Erica, have recently featured in a list of 'TV's most desirable actresses', signifying their popularity.
Vikrant, who performed acting stints in TV shows like "Balika Vadhu" and "Baba Aiso Var Dhoondo", is now wooing the audience with his skills in web shows and films.
He is currently being lauded for his performance in web shows "Mirzapur" and "Criminal Justice". And he will be seen opposite actress Deepika Padukone in the Bollywood film CHHAPAAK.
The world of Bollywood had for long stereotyped Christian characters by way of lingos, dialogues, dress or profession.
Ms. Braganza (Archana Puran Singh) from KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI may have offered comic relief in the film, but the character had many cliches. Similarly, Aishwarya Rai's role of a Christian girl Shelly in JOSH or Suchitra Krishnamoorthi's role in KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA, were cases in point.
But with time, the practice is fading away. [Simran Sethi, IANS]