[Video] Kumail Nanjiani, Star Of Welcome To Chippendales, Gets Nostalgic About The Time He Was In Singapore As A Teenager: “I Miss Yakult”
The Silicon Valley and Eternals star stretches his dramatic muscles in the Disney+ series about the rise and fall of Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, the founder of the iconic male strip-club empire Chippendales.
Kumail Nanjiani is taking a break from comedy — at least for his latest role.
In Welcome to Chippendales, the eight-part Disney+ limited series premiering on Tuesday (Nov 22), the Karachi-born Nanjiani — who’s known for his comedic turns in Silicon Valley and Franklin & Bash, and the 2017 autobiographical film The Big Sick, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Original Screenplay — plays Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, the Mumbai-born Indian entrepreneur who introduced a male revue in 1979 that would become a cultural phenomenon.
But Banerjee’s road to success wasn’t the American Dream story he had in mind. Frequent infighting with business partner and choreographer Nick De Noia (The White Lotus’ Murray Barlett) led Banerjee to orchestrate a plot to kill him in April 1987.
Banerjee also tried to put out hits on members of a rival male striptease troupe. But the hitman got cold feet and reported it to the FBI, which ultimately led to Banerjee’s downfall. He was arrested in 1994 but before his sentencing, he hanged himself in his prison cell.
Following his jaw-dropping physical transformation as Kingo in Marvel’s Eternals last year, where Nanjiani, 44, flexed his action chops as the first South Asian superhero, Welcome to Chippendales offers Nanjiani an opportunity to sink his teeth into a juicy part and show off his sombre, dramatic side. (Bad news for folks expecting to see Nanjiani’s shredded bod: he neither dances nor takes off his shirt on the show.)
Speaking to 8days.sg via Zoom from Los Angeles, Nanjiani, who’s also the executive producer, explains his attraction to Welcome to Chippendales, his on-screen shouting matches with Murray Barlett, and memories of visiting Singapore — where his aunt lives — as a teenager.