Indira Varma is a British actress of Indian and Swiss descent. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London and became a full time actress in British television and films. She has also done a few voice recordings for some video games. Due to her Asian and Genoese features, she was offered a major role in the movies ‘Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love’ and ‘Bride and Prejudice’ which made people in India and around the world notice her. She played an important role in the classic movie ‘Rome’ that was a hit at the box office. In the UK, she is better known as a versatile television artist and has appeared in several television serials including the all time favourites ‘Torchwood’, ‘Bones’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ that consist of comedy, horror and drama to cater to a wide spectrum of audience. She is married to actor Colin Tierney and lives in North Landon with her only daughter. Though she is not very active on social media, she has a large fan following and is listed in the ‘who is who’ of show business.
Childhood & Early Life
Indira Anne Varma was born on 14 May 1973 in Bath, Somerset, England to an Indian father and Swiss mother of Genoese Italian descent. Both her parents were involved in fine arts and had met each other at art school in London. She was the only child of slightly aged parents who were often mistaken as grandparents, which embarrassed her to some extent.
She grew up with a natural accent due to which she faced some amount of racism as a child. She had to gesticulate a lot while conversing which encouraged her to become a mime artist when she was young. However, she never took up studies in mime.
As she grew up, she got interested in dramatics and graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, where she studied from 1992 to 1995. She was also an active member of the Musical Youth Theatre Company, founded by Greg Vere.
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Her first film, ‘Clancy’s Kitchen’ released in 1996. It was made mainly for the British audience.
Her Indian background proved to be her plus point and fetched her a role in Mira Nair directed ‘Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love’ in 1997 and ‘Bride and Prejudice’ alongside Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2004.
Her Genoese Italian descent also made her the ideal choice to play the role of Niobe, the young Roman wife of Lucius Vorenus, in the BBC / HBO historic drama series titled ‘Rome’ in 2007 .
She has appeared as the principal character in the ‘BBC Three’ science fiction drama series ‘Torchwood’ as Suzie Costello in the episodes ‘Everything Changes’ and ‘They Keep Killing Suzie’.
Varma had a guest appearance in the US detective drama series ‘Bones’ as the Scotland Yard inspector, Cate Prichard. She also had a character role as Zoe Luther in the first season of the BBC drama, ‘Luther’.
Her television career continued to gain momentum with her role of Ellaria Sand, the paramour of Oberyn Martell in the HBO serial ‘Game of Thorns’ and that of Ilsa Pucci in the Fox television series ‘Human Target’.
She also lent her voice for the video game ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ and is currently playing the role of DC Nina Suresh in the British television drama ‘Paranoid’.
Indira’s first love was always theatre. In 1997, she played the role of Bianca in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ at the National Theatre in London. She also appeared in the stage adaption of Harold Pinter’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ in 2001.
Indira performed in the Harold Pinter play ‘One for the Road’ at the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts in New York City. In London, she regularly appeared in shows at the London Theatre that included the Russian play ‘Ivanov’ by Anton Chekhov, the three act play ‘The Vortex’ by Noel Coward and the Pulitzer Prize winning drama ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ by Thomas Wilder.
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Her latest stage appearances have been as Queen of the Goths in Lucy Bailey’s ‘Gore-fest’ production of ‘Titus Andronicus’ and Bernard Shaw’s ‘Man and Superman’ at the National Theatre, London.
Her major roles in films include Maya in ‘Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love’ (1996), Kitty in ‘Clancy’s Kitchen’ (1997), Ruttie Jinnah in ‘Jinnah’ (1998), Kiran Balraj in ‘Bride and Prejudice’ (2004), Denise Glass in ‘Basic Instinct 2’ (2006) and Sonia in ‘Una’ (2016).
She has appeared in several television serials. Some of her prominent serials are ‘Psychos’ (1999), ‘In a Land of Plenty’ (2001), ‘The Canterbury Tales’ (2003), ‘Love Soup’ (2005), ‘Torchwood’ (2006), ‘Bones’ (2008), ‘Game of Thrones’ (2014) and ‘Paranoid’ (2016).
She has also lent her voice for the video games ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ and ‘Mass Effect Andromeda’.
Awards & Achievements
In 2015, she won the ‘Behind The Voice Actor Award’ for ‘Best Vocal Ensemble in a Video Game’ for ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition”.
Personal Life & Legacy
After a brief courtship, Indira married fellow actor Colin Tierney at a private ceremony. They have a daughter, Evelyn, and they live in Hornsey, North London.
Her ancestral home is in Bhopal, India.
Indira and her husband have appeared at many movie premiers and have made many a fashion statement as a couple.
She has her social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter but has chosen to keep her uploads to a bare minimum.
After her role in ‘Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love’ she felt she would be looked upon as a adult movies' star and hence was happy to do a more serious acting role in ‘Bride and Prejudice’.
Neither her father, or the audience in India, got to see ‘Kama Sutra: Tale of Love’ on the full screen as the film was banned in India.
She feels that Indian actors like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan worked too much and do not know how to take a break. She is also critical of the way Bollywood actors use make up and have stereo type roles.
Her looks are ideally suited to play the role of an Indian or someone from the Middle East / North Africa.
She has a love for languages and professes that she would have most probably taken up teaching, had she not gone into acting.