Famous Men From New Zealand

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If there is one place down under that boasts of a wide array of attractions — both physical and intellectual, New Zealand it is! So if you are even remotely interested in exploring its reservoir of distinguished denizens, consider yourself lucky for you have landed in the right page. Whether it is historians, comedians, explorers, activists, politicians, pioneers or Nobel Laureates, New Zealanders have every reason to be proud of their finest crop of men who have motivated the world in unthinkable ways. From Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Mount Everest to Richard Pearse, the first man to build and fly a mechanically powered airplane and from Harold Williams, the Guinness record holding linguists who claims to be fluent in 58 languages to Academy Award winning actor Russell Crowe, New Zealand indeed has been home to some enterprising men of exceptional feats. And considering its petite population, this is quite an impressive exploit. Unravel the lives of some such famous New Zealand men in the biographies below that trails their timelines and unearths interesting facts and trivia like no memoir else.
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 1 
Israel Adesanya
(Mixed martial artist)
Israel Adesanya
73
Birthdate: July 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria

Israel Adesanya is a Nigerian-born New Zealand kickboxer, mixed martial artist, and former boxer. Considered one of the best strikers in MMA, Adesanya has won multiple championships and is the current UFC Middleweight Champion. In 2019, Israel Adesanya was named New Zealand Sportsman of the Year at the Halberg Awards.

 2 
Russell Crowe
(Actor Best Known for His Roles in the Films 'Gladiator', 'The Insider' and 'A Beautiful Mind')
Russell Crowe
49
Birthdate: April 7, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Active in the film industry for over 35 years, Russell Crowe is an actor, film producer, director, and musician. Gaining international fame with his role in the epic historical film Gladiator in 2000, he is the recipient of several awards, including an Academy Award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award.

 3 
Keith Urban
(Known for His Work in Country Music)
Keith Urban
38
Birthdate: October 26, 1967
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Whangārei, New Zealand

Four-time Grammy-winner Keith Urban had already tasted success in Australia, before making his American debut with a platinum-certified solo album. He knows how to play a variety of instruments, including the sitar, guitar, piano, and mandolin. His track Somebody Like You was named Billboard’s greatest country hit of the 2000s.

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 4 
Peter Jackson
(Director, Writer and Producer of the 'Lord of the Rings' Trilogy & the 'Hobbit' Trilogy)
Peter Jackson
19
Birthdate: October 31, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pukerua Bay, New Zealand

New Zealand director/producer Peter Jackson is best known for his three-time Academy Award-winning work in The Return of the King, the third part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The third-highest-grossing director ever, he is also the man behind The Hobbit trilogy and the 2005 film King Kong

 5 
Edmund Hillary
(One of the First Climbers to Have Reached the Summit of Mount Everest)
Edmund Hillary
32
Birthdate: July 20, 1919
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: January 11, 2008
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the top of Mount Everest, as part of the British expedition led by John Hunt. Hillary also reached both the poles. He later served as an ambassador to Nepal and founded the Himalayan Trust to help the people of Nepal.
 6 
Taika Waititi
(Filmmaker Best Known for His Films: 'Boy', 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' and 'What We Do in the Shadows')
Taika Waititi
39
Birthdate: August 16, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raukokore, Waihau Bay, New Zealand

Taika Waititi is an actor, filmmaker, and comedian. One of the most popular New Zealand film personalities of all time, Waititi is renowned for directing films like Thor: Ragnarok and Boy. He has won prestigious awards including a BAFTA Award, an Academy Award, and a Grammy Award. In 2022, Waititi was included in Time magazine's 100 most influential people list.

 7 
Ernest Rutherford
(New Zealand Physicist Who is Known as the Father of Nuclear Physics)
Ernest Rutherford
25
Birthdate: August 30, 1871
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brightwater, New Zealand
Died: October 19, 1937

New Zealand physicist Ernest Rutherford is remembered as the father of nuclear physics. His discovery of radioactive half-life and of radon, and his differentiation of alpha and beta radiation, won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908. Element 104 was named rutherfordium in his honor.

 8 
Karl Urban
(New Zealand Actor Known for His TV Series ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’)
Karl Urban
29
Birthdate: June 7, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Karl Urban is one of the most popular actors from New Zealand. He established himself in the American film industry by playing the role of Éomer in two of the three Lord of the Rings film series. Apart from acting, he plays a key role in supporting The KidsCan Charitable Trust, which provides essentials to over 16,000 disadvantaged children.

 9 
Sam Neill
(Actor, Director and Producer Known for His Role as ‘Dr. Alan Grant’ in ‘Jurassic Park’ Film Series)
Sam Neill
18
Birthdate: September 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Omagh, Northern Ireland

Sam Neill is a New Zealand actor, screenwriter, film director, and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park film series. Sam Neill is also known for his work in TV series like The Simpsons and Peaky Blinders. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the New Zealand Film Award.

 10 
KJ Apa
(Best Known for His Role as 'Archie Andrews' in the TV Series 'Riverdale')
KJ Apa
67
Birthdate: June 17, 1997
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

KJ Apa is a New Zealand actor, musician, and singer. He is known for his portrayal of Archie Andrews in the popular American teen drama TV series Riverdale, which earned him the Breakthrough Performance award at the 2017 Saturn Awards. His performance in the series also earned him nominations at the Teen Choice Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards.

 11 
Jemaine Clement
(New Zealand Comedian)
Jemaine Clement
11
Birthdate: January 10, 1974
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Masterton

Jemaine Clement is a New Zealand actor, director, musician, and comedian. One half of the Grammy Award-winning and popular comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, Clement has created many comedy series for HBO and BBC. Also known for his good looks, Jemaine Clement was named in Who magazine's 100 Sexiest People list in 2008.

 12 
Daniel Gillies
(Known for His Role of ‘Elijah Mikaelson’ in the TV series ‘The Vampire Diaries’)
Daniel Gillies
24
Birthdate: March 14, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Winnipeg, Canada

Daniel Gillies is a Canadian-New Zealander actor. Despite being born into a family of medical professionals, Daniel Gillies decided to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Although he initially had to work as a waiter and dishwasher, Gillies chose not to give up and eventually established himself as an actor.

 13 
Temuera Morrison
(New Zealand Actor Known for His Film 'Once Were Warriors' and His Multiple Roles in 'Star Wars' Franchise)
Temuera Morrison
11
Birthdate: December 26, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rotorua, New Zealand

Temuera Morrison is a New Zealand singer and actor. He is best known for his portrayal of Jango Fett and Boba Fett in the famous Star Wars multimedia franchise. Temuera Morrison has also voiced Boba Fett in several video games, such as Star Wars: Empire at War and Star Wars Battlefront. 

 14 
Jonah Lomu
(New Zealand Rugby Union Player)
Jonah Lomu
13
Birthdate: May 12, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: November 18, 2015

Jonah Lomu was a New Zealand rugby player whose dominance on the field had a huge impact on the game. Considered the first global superstar of rugby, Jonah Lomu proved to be a crowd-puller. In 2007, he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.

 15 
Rob Hall
(Mountaineer)
Rob Hall
14
Birthdate: January 14, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Christchurch, New Zealand
Died: May 11, 1996

Rob Hall was a New Zealand mountaineer and the head guide of a Mount Everest expedition in 1996, during which he died along with two clients and a fellow guide. The ill-fated expedition was dramatized in the film Everest where Rob Hall was played by actor Jason Clarke.

 16 
Martin Henderson
17
Birthdate: October 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Auckland

Martin Henderson is a New Zealand actor best known for his portrayal of Dr. Nathan Riggs in the popular American medical drama TV series, Grey's Anatomy. He has also played important roles in popular films like Bride and Prejudice, Everest, and Miracles from Heaven. Over the years, Martin Henderson has received nominations for the AFI Award and FCCA Award.

 17 
Antony Starr
(Actor famous for his portrayal of twins Van and Jethro West in the hit New Zealand television series Outrageous Fortune)
Antony Starr
9
Birthdate: October 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Antony Starr is a New Zealand actor whose portrayal of Jeremy King in the 2012 Australian mystery drama film Wish You Were Here earned him the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award. Antony Starr is best known for playing Homelander in the American superhero television series, The Boys.

 18 
Steven Adams
(New Zealand Professional Basketball Player Who Plays in the Center Position)
Steven Adams
7
Birthdate: July 20, 1993
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rotorua, New Zealand

Steven Adams is a New Zealand basketball player who is currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. Renowned for his humility and down to earth personality, Steven Adams is much loved and respected in the United States. 

 19 
Cliff Curtis
10
Birthdate: July 27, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rotorua

Cliff Curtis is a New Zealand actor whose Māori ethnicity has allowed him to play characters of various ethnicities, including Samoan, Mexican-American, Arab, and Indian. He is best known for his portrayal of Genesis in the critically acclaimed 2014 drama film The Dark Horse, which earned him the Asia Pacific Screen Award under the Best Performance by an Actor category.

 20 
Sonny Bill Williams
(Boxer, Rugby Player)
Sonny Bill Williams
9
Birthdate: August 3, 1985
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

Sonny Bill Williams is a New Zealand boxer. Interestingly, he played professional rugby union and rugby league before turning his attention towards boxing. A very successful sportsperson, Williams has won several Rugby World Cups. He also represented New Zealand as a rugby player at the 2016 Olympics.

 21 
Joseph Parker
6
Birthdate: January 9, 1992
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
 22 
Kane Williamson
(Cricketer)
Kane Williamson
7
Birthdate: August 8, 1990
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tauranga
New Zealand national cricket team captain Kane Williamson became the only New Zealander on ICC’s Test team of the decade and led his country to the finals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. By 2020, he had been named the world’s top Test batsman, with a batting rating of 890. 
 23 
Mark Hunt
(New Zealand Former Mixed Martial Artist and Kickboxer Famous as 'The King of Walk-Offs')
Mark Hunt
8
Birthdate: March 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: South Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand MMA fighter and kickboxer Mark Hunt won the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix and also competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Known as the "King of Walk-Offs" due to his habit of walking away before the referee ends the match, Hunt inspired the documentary The Art of Fighting.
 24 
Bruce McLaren
(Motorcycle racer, Racecar driver)
Bruce McLaren
5
Birthdate: August 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Greater Auckland
Died: June 2, 1970

Bruce McLaren was a New Zealand engineer, inventor, racing car designer, and driver. He is credited with founding McLaren Automotive in 1963. Formula One's successful team, McLaren, is named after him. McLaren has been inducted into various halls of fame, including the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

 25 
Manu Bennett
(New Zealand Actor Know for His TV Series: 'Spartacus', 'Arrow' and 'The Hobbit' Film Trilogy)
Manu Bennett
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rotorua, New Zealand

Manu Bennett is a New Zealand actor best known for playing important roles in epic fantasy works like Spartacus, The Shannara Chronicles, Arrow, and The Hobbit trilogy. Apart from playing Azog the Defiler in the Hobbit trilogy, Manu Bennett also voiced the character in the 2014 video game, Lego The Hobbit.

 26 
Rhys Darby
(Actor, Comedian)
Rhys Darby
6
Birthdate: March 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New Zealand

Rhys Darby is a New Zealand comedian and actor. He is known for his portrayal of Murray Hewitt in the TV series Flight of the Conchords. As a comedian, Darby is renowned for his physical comedy routines accompanied with sound effects and mime. In 2012, Darby was honored at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival with the Fred (Dagg) Award.

 27 
Jay Ryan
(actor, film actor)
Jay Ryan
5
Birthdate: August 29, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Auckland

Jay Ryan is a New Zealand actor best known for playing important roles in TV series like Neighbours, Go Girls, Top of the Lake, and Mary Kills People. Jay Ryan and the cast of Top of the Lake received the Equity Ensemble Award under the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Miniseries or Telemovie category in 2014.

 28 
Neil Finn
(Co-Founder of the Rock Band 'Split Enz' and Member of the Bands: 'Crowded House' & 'Fleetwood Mac')
Neil Finn
3
Birthdate: May 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Te Awamutu, New Zealand

Crowded House member Neil Finn is all set to perform in a radio series for his lockdown-hit fans on his Mixlr broadcast Fangradio. The New Zealand singer is also associated with Fleetwood Mac and was previously part of Split Enz. He also formed the project Pajama Club with his wife.

 29 
Richie McCaw
(New Zealand Professional Rugby Union Player)
Richie McCaw
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1980
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oamaru, New Zealand

Richie McCaw is a New Zealand retired rugby union player who captained the national team in 110 test matches. One of the most successful captains of the All Blacks team, McCaw helped New Zealand win two Rugby World Cups in 2011 and 2015. In 2019, Richie McCaw was made an inductee of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.

 30 
Julian Dennison
(Known for His Role as Ricky Baker in the Movie 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople')
Julian Dennison
18
Birthdate: October 26, 2002
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Julian Dennison is a New Zealand actor whose portrayal of Solomon in his debut film Shopping earned him the New Zealand Film Award under the Best Supporting Actor category. He then went on to appear in popular films like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Deadpool 2. Julian Dennison has also appeared in several commercials for companies like Air New Zealand.

 31 
Brendon McCullum
(Cricketer)
Brendon McCullum
1
Birthdate: September 27, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dunedin

Brendon McCullum is a New Zealand former cricket player who captained the national team in all formats of the game. Renowned for his ability to score runs quickly, McCullum is regarded as one of the most successful captains of the national cricket team. Brendon McCullum is currently associated with the England cricket test team where he is the head coach. 

 32 
Bret McKenzie
(Comedian)
Bret McKenzie
4
Birthdate: June 29, 1976
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Bret McKenzie is a New Zealand actor, comedian, musician, and producer. Along with Jemaine Clement, he is one-half of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. He is a former member of the musical group The Black Seeds. As an actor, he appeared in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. 

 33 
Alan Dale
(Actor)
Alan Dale
4
Birthdate: May 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dunedin

Alan Dale is a New Zealand actor best known for his portrayal of Jim Robinson in the popular Australian television soap opera, Neighbours. After realizing that he had become stereotyped as Jim Robinson in New Zealand and Australia, Alan Dale moved to the US where he achieved international recognition after appearing in movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

 34 
Dan Carter
(Former New Zealand Rugby Union Player)
Dan Carter
2
Birthdate: March 5, 1982
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leeston, New Zealand

Once considered the world’s best fly-half, New Zealand rugby star Dan Carter is best known for his stint with the Crusaders and the All Blacks. He was part of the Rugby World Cup-winning New Zealand squads of 2011 and 2015. He is also the all-time leading point scorer in international rugby.

 35 
Craig Parker
(Known for his roles as Haldir in the films The Fellowship of the Ring (2001))
Craig Parker
1
Birthdate: November 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Suva, Fiji

Craig Parker is a New Zealand actor best known for his appearances in epic films and TV series like the Lord of the Rings film series, Legend of the Seeker, and Spartacus. He has received a couple of New Zealand Film and TV Award nominations for his work in television. Craig Parker is also renowned for his theatre work.

 36 
Brett Lee
(Cricketer)
Brett Lee
5
Birthdate: November 8, 1976
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wollongong

Brett Lee is an Australian former cricket player best known for his ability to bowl fast. In 2003, Lee played a prominent role in Australia winning the ICC Cricket World Cup. Widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of his generation, Lee finished his One Day International and Test career after having picked 380 and 310 wickets, respectively.

 37 
Aaron Finch
(Cricketer)
Aaron Finch
2
Birthdate: November 17, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Colac, Australia
Australian cricketer Aaron Finch became the first cricketer with 900 rating points in the ICC T20I rankings, in 2018. He holds the record for two highest individual scores in T20I cricket. He has also played for various IPL teams.
 38 
Sam Wills
(Comedian)
Sam Wills
2
Birthdate: August 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Zealand

Better known as Tape Face, New Zealand-based comedian and mime Sam Wills had begun his career at 13, as an apprentice clown. He boasts of a diploma in New Circus and doesn’t give interviews. He was once accused of fraud for using a stand-in instead of performing at a show.

 39 
John Key
(38th Prime Minister of New Zealand (2008 - 2016))
John Key
5
Birthdate: August 9, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

Born to immigrants in New Zealand, John Key became the third New Zealand prime minister of Jewish descent. Previously a foreign exchange professional, he has worked with Merrill Lynch. He wished to change his country’s flag by removing the Union Jack on it but voters chose against it.

 40 
Marton Csokas
(New Zealand Actor Who Often Portrays Villainous Roles and Has Worked Extensively in Australia and Hollywood)
Marton Csokas
9
Birthdate: June 30, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Invercargill, New Zealand

New Zealand actor Marton Csokas was born to an Australian mother and a Hungarian father. Known for his roles in series such as Shortland Street and films such as The Equalizer, he chiefly plays the villain. He has his own theater company and has played an award-winning role in the play Uncle Vanya.

 41 
Michael Dorman
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1981
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Auckland

Michael Dorman is a New Zealand actor known for playing NASA astronaut Gordo Stevens in the American science fiction drama, For All Mankind. He is also known for his portrayal of John Tavner in Patriot. Apart from acting, Michael Dorman has also tried his hand at playing the guitar and singing.

 42 
Beauden Barrett
(New Zealand Rugby Union Player)
Beauden Barrett
2
Birthdate: May 27, 1991
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New Plymouth, New Zealand

Known for his speed and game management, New Zealand rugby player Beauden Barrett is a 2-time World Rugby Player of the Year award winner. He caught the attention of national selectors at age 19, he later has a long stint with the Hurricanes. He is the highest try-scorer of any first-five in history.

 43 
Burt Munro
(New Zealand Motorcycle Racer Who Set an Under-1,000 CC World Record)
Burt Munro
8
Birthdate: March 25, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Invercargill, New Zealand
Died: January 6, 1978

New Zealand motorcyclist Burt Munro made three world records, traveling in his Indian motorcycle from New Zealand to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the U.S., and the one made in 1967 still remains unbroken. The 2005 film The World's Fastest Indian, based on his life, featured Anthony Hopkins as Munro.

 44 
Callan Mulvey
(Actor who portrayed Mark Moran in the popular Australian drama Underbelly)
Callan Mulvey
4
Birthdate: February 23, 1975
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

Callan Mulvey is a New Zealand-born Australian actor best known for his portrayal of Mark Moran in the popular crime-drama series, Underbelly. Callan Mulvey has also played important roles in popular American films like 300: Rise of an Empire, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Avengers: Endgame. 

 45 
Martin Crowe
(One of the New Zealand’s Greatest Batsmen)
Martin Crowe
2
Birthdate: September 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Henderson, New Zealand
Died: March 3, 2016

Martin Crowe was a New Zealand cricket player who captained the national Test and ODI teams. Counted among the greatest batsmen New Zealand has ever produced, Crowe was the highest run-scorer for New Zealand in Test and One Day International cricket at the time of his retirement in 1995. Martin Crowe served as a commentator after retiring as a player.

 46 
Lee Tamahori
(Film director, Actor)
Lee Tamahori
5
Birthdate: June 17, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wellington

Lee Tamahori is a New Zealand filmmaker who achieved international recognition in 2002 when he directed the 20th film in the popular James Bond series, Die Another Day. Lee Tamahori is also known for directing successful and popular movies like Once Were Warriors, Along Came a Spider, and Mahana.

 47 
David Tua
(Samoan-New Zealand Former Professional Boxer )
David Tua
2
Birthdate: November 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Faleatiu, Samoa

David Tua is a New Zealand retired professional boxer known for his devastating punching power. From 1996 to 2003, Tua was ranked among the top 10 heavyweights in the world by BoxRec. In 2003, The Ring magazine included him in its 100 greatest punchers of all time list. In 2020, Tua was inducted into the NZ Boxing Hall of Fame.    

 48 
Martin Guptill
(Cricketer)
Martin Guptill
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Auckland

Martin Guptill is a New Zealand cricket player who plays for the national team. In 2015, Guptill became the first New Zealand batsman to score a double century in an ODI match. His 237 not out is the second highest ODI score after Rohit Sharma's 264. Martin Guptill's 237 remains the highest individual score in a World Cup match.

 49 
Trent Boult
(One of the Finest Bowlers of the New Ball)
Trent Boult
2
Birthdate: July 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rotorua

One of the finest bowlers of the new ball, New Zealand cricketer Trent Boult first grabbed attention at 17, when he became the country’s fastest secondary school bowler. He became the first New Zealand bowler to score a hat-trick in the World Cup and has also had a flourishing career in the IPL.

 50 
Ajaz Patel
(Cricketer known as slow left-arm orthodox spin bowler)
Ajaz Patel
0
Birthdate: October 21, 1988
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India