Indians have a special reason to look forward to the Oscars this year. Our own Priyanka Chopra will be among the presenters at the 88th Academy Awards to be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on 28th February. Compliments are pouring in for the actress, who is currently in Montreal, Canada, shooting for Quantico.
Many of us are under the impression that Priyanka is the first Indian actress to be endowed with such an honour, but Persis Khambatta ofStar Trek fame did India proud at the Oscars long back, even before Priyanka was born. Khambatta presented two awards in 1980, along with actor William Shatner; she looked stunning in a black slitted gown and a matching high feather cape.
Like Priyanka, Khambatta also was a beauty queen turned actress, except that her domain wasn’t Bollywood.
Khambatta won the Femina Miss India title in 1965, at the age of 17. Soon, she tried her luck in Hindi films, but failed to find her feet in Bollywood, where she had to be satisfied with minor roles. Star Trekhappened several years later, and that was a real game changer for the svelte beauty. The character of bald Deltan navigator Lieutenant Ilia inStar Trek:The Motion Picture (1979) catapulted her to fame.
Once, in a interview with Shekhar Suman, Khambatta said that she felt Bollywood didn’t accept her as an actress for she had been offered only negative roles owing to her bold looks, which wasn’t congruent with the Indian perspective of a heroine back then.
In 1997, a year before her death, Khambatta published a coffee table book titled ‘Pride of India’ – inspired by the title conferred to her by Late prime minister Indira Gandhi. Khambatta died in 1998 at the age of 49, following a cardiac arrest.