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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Indian actor hits back in soap row
The Ferreira family (from left): Ronnie, Dan, Ash, Adi and Kareena
Dalip Tahil (second left) will play Dan in EastEnders from June
An Indian star who has landed a major role in UK soap opera EastEnders has hit back at British Asian actors who said he should not get the job.

Bollywood actor Dalip Tahil will join the hit BBC One show in June as the head of a new family, the Ferreiras.

But British Asian actors have called the BBC's casting decision "disgraceful" because they say a UK performer should have been given the role.

"One aspect of what I read hurts because British Asian actors have come to Bollywood and pursued a career there," said Tahil.

"One I know couldn't even speak Hindi."

He said nobody complained when he appeared in London musical Bombay Dreams.

It is a disgrace and an insult to British Asian actors
Albert Moses
Tahil began his screen career in the Oscar-winning movie Gandhi and has appeared in more than 60 Bollywood films.

Two high-profile British Asian actors, Albert Moses and Renu Setna, complained in trade newspaper The Stage that home-grown talent was being overlooked.

Moses, who has appeared in East Is East and Octopussy, said: "British Asian actors have been fighting for the last five years to persuade the BBC to bring an Asian family into EastEnders and when at last it happens it goes to Bollywood.

"It is a disgrace and an insult to British Asian actors. This is a terrible thing for the BBC to do. It should be ashamed."

'Excellent' talent

Setna, who featured in Bridget Jones' Diary, said: "I have heard that for this storyline the BBC has brought over a Bollywood star to play the father.

"Why, when we have excellent Asian actors of our own?"

A BBC spokeswoman said: "After due consideration, Dalip was deemed to be the most appropriate actor for the job."

The five-strong Ferreira family is the show's first new Asian family for 10 years.

The other family members will be played by UK actors Raji James, who played DS Vik Singh in The Bill, Ray Panthaki, who was seen in Ali G In Da House, plus Ameet Chana and Poojah Shah.

They will move into the house left vacant by Mark Fowler.

Ameet Chana, 27, who plays Adi Ferreira, said he was pleased to be working with a Bollywood legend like Dalip Tahil.

"It's great for me to work with him. I saw his first film and he played a henchman of the villain - it was a real James Bond scene and he got knocked off into the crocodiles. I've grown up with him."

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