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How a 55-Year-Old California Teacher Became a Bollywood Actor

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It’s Never Too Late” is a sequence that tells the tales of people that resolve to pursue their goals on their very own phrases.


By most accounts, Richard Klein had a fairly good life: a stable job as a instructor at a Hebrew day faculty in Oakland, Calif.; mates that have been like household, and a ardour for singing and dancing that dominated his nights and weekends. But one morning, on the age of 45, he awakened and realized that he had but to embrace his full potential. He needed to interrupt into Bollywood.

“I’ve always loved performing, and I was listening to Indian classical and devotional music a lot,” on the time, Mr. Klein mentioned. The 2001 Bollywood epic “Lagaan” impressed him to attempt to make his ardour his career. “Things have come full circle,” he mentioned, including that he seems within the 2022 movie “Lal Singh Chaddha” with Aamir Khan, who starred in “Lagaan.”

Six months after that fateful morning, Mr. Klein, who’s divorced and has no youngsters, moved to Mumbai. At first, he lived within the coastal metropolis half time. He alternated between a gig modifying subtitles for English-language tv exhibits in Mumbai and tutoring again in California, the place he would make sufficient cash to underwrite one other six months of making an attempt to make it within the performing arts world in India.

Eventually it paid off. Mr. Klein, now 55, has appeared in dozens of Indian movies, tv exhibits and commercials, taking part in such diverse roles as a scientist, physician, chef, spy, and, owing to his potential to nail a British accent, very often, a “mean British officer.”

Making the change was not with out strife. Still, he mentioned he would do it once more. “I’m in India, you know, the land of reincarnation,” Mr. Klein mentioned, “but as far as I’m concerned, I have this one life that I’m dealing with. I want to make the most of it.” (The following interview has been edited and condensed.)

What was your life like earlier than you made this transformation?

I had been dwelling within the San Francisco Bay Area for about 20 years. Mostly, I used to be a instructor: math, science, pc lab. My nights and weekends have been spent performing some sort of performing arts. I’ve all the time had an affinity towards music. I bear in mind being a little child, strolling via the park, singing. A stranger walked by, and I form of obtained quiet. My mother mentioned: “Don’t be shy. You sing out loud and don’t worry about anybody else.”

What was the watershed second?

I used to be working as a instructor at a Hebrew day faculty, and one morning I awakened and thought, “If I don’t do something, I could be here for the next 20 years.” That wouldn’t be a horrible end result, nevertheless it wasn’t the one I needed.

I studied India in graduate faculty, after I was pursuing a diploma in faith. Learning about India impressed me to undertake the nickname Bhakti, which I’ve used since 1991, although I by no means modified my title legally. In a broad sense, Bhakti means devotion and love. The phrase is a reminder to guide with my coronary heart as an alternative of my head, so each time I hear my title, I consider that.

My first journey to India was in 1995 as a backpacker. I completely beloved it. I went again a few occasions after that. So I believed: what if I’m going there, keep, and see what occurs? On one in all my first nights in Mumbai, I went out to a jazz membership. All the performers have been foreigners. We obtained to speaking afterward, and I ended up becoming a member of their group as a singer, which was my first foray into the performing arts world right here.

What was the largest problem that you simply needed to navigate?

When I first arrived, I used to be staying in pretty low cost locations. Loads of occasions, there was no scorching water within the bathe. Loads of occasions there wasn’t even a bathe — most of my time in India, I’ve taken a bucket tub, which is definitely nice.

How did you go from modifying subtitles to performing in Bollywood productions?

About 4 years after shifting to Mumbai, I began getting alternatives for voice-over work: company shows, TV and radio commercials that needed an American or British accent. Then I began getting calls to dub Bollywood motion pictures. Then I obtained invited to audition to behave.

At first, I obtained background components. And then, as a result of I’m blessed with an American accent and a few vocal coaching, I began auditioning for and getting talking roles.

It was a godsend. It was one other miracle of India. To have the ability to study a new artwork type now could be so extremely stunning and such a tremendous alternative.

What’s subsequent for you?

I wish to hold going with the performing. There’s a lot extra to study. I’m getting a lot of excellent suggestions, and the components are getting higher, they usually’re getting extra diverse. I don’t all the time play a imply British officer anymore. I’m getting different kinds of roles, larger roles, and I’m getting extra respect. I’m in a stunning, sci-fi love story referred to as “X = Prem” that comes out in February. It’s my fourth time working with the director, Srijit Mukherji.

Otherwise, I simply wish to reside daily on this superb nation.

How has this new act modified you?

Being right here provides me the chance to be the perfect model of myself. I wasn’t feeling that chance within the U.S. I really feel like folks right here see me the way in which I wish to be seen. I don’t know why. I truthfully really feel prefer it boils right down to the ridiculous love that I’ve for this place.

What recommendation would you give to people who find themselves caught and seeking to make a large change?

Dream a large dream, then determine what all of the little incremental steps are to get there, and hit these steps one after the other. There are all the time obstacles. Loved ones could be an impediment, cash could be an impediment. It’s not simple. There’s plenty of sacrifice concerned, however you possibly can dream a large dream and make it come true.


We’re in search of individuals who resolve that it’s by no means too late to modify gears, change their life and pursue goals. Should we discuss to you or somebody you understand? Share your story right here.