RH First Look: Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire)
Baseball stars such as Carlos Lee, and Jermaine Dye are just two of the 99 that have hit homeruns in their first major league at bats. While they have followed up their debut dingers with many other homerun trots, clutch RBI’s, and built solid careers, countless other hitters such as Bill Roman and Andre David hit one out of the park out of the gate, and then dwindled into baseball obscurity. Similarly, the music industry has seen more than its fair share of artists hit it big, then hit the ground. So many, that the phrase “one hit wonder” is regular vernacular, and shoveled upon artists who go from no-name to top of the charts until they can prove otherwise.
Actress/Model Freida Pinto has done the movie equivalent of a first at-bat homerun with her role in “Slumdog Millionaire”. After struggling to turn a successful modeling and TV career into big screen appearances, the Mumbai-born Pinto was cast in Danny Boyle’s independent Oscar nominated film, “Slumdog Millionaire” as Latika, a scrappy child orphan turned beautiful woman locked into a world of power and violence. Latika is ‘the third musketeer’ so to speak, and the love interest of the film’s protagonist, Jamal, the Slumdog turned Millionaire.
Hitting a homerun during the first at bat is as much skill as it is luck. And the intersection of the two permeate throughout “Slumdog Millionaire”. Freida herself recognizes the role both have played in her breakout role and blooming movie career. She told RH, “My personal journey through this film couldn’t have been possible without fate and destiny on my side. Yes I worked hard to make it, but there are many talented people out there who work just as hard and don’t get such an opportunity. I definitely feel like luck and destiny had a part to play with my success.”
Success is something that we believe is in the cards for Freida as she promotes “Slumdog Millionaire” and prepares for future film roles. Just as Carlos Lee has turned into a perennial all-star, Freida has a chance to become a mainstay in the world of entertainment. We’re very happy to put Freida under the microscope in our first RH First Look of 2009. Get to know Actress/Model Freida Pinto as she talks about her entrance to the big screen, growing up in Mumbai, and what attracted her to “Slumdog Millionaire”.
RubyHornet: “Slumdog Millionaire” marks your film debut. How does it feel to be in such a strong film right out the gate?
Freida Pinto: This has been an absolutely magical journey for me. I feel thrilled, and so thankful. I have struggled to make it in the film industry and a debut like this was beyond my wildest dreams. It’s not everyday that a middle class girl from the suburbs of Mumbai gets to walk down the red carpet at international film festivals with her first film. I feel truly blessed. It’s wonderful to realize that my first step into the film world has been embraced by audiences and critics alike, it’s given me a lot of confidence.
RubyHornet: What attracted you to “Slumdog Millionaire”, and the role of Latika?
Freida Pinto: There were so many reasons for me to want to do this film. The first and biggest one was, of course, the chance to work with a brilliant director like Danny Boyle. I’ve been a huge fan of his past work and knew that it would be a great experience to work with him. I also fell in love with the script. I’ve lived in Mumbai all my life, and “Slumdog Millionaire” is the truest portrayal of this unique city.
RubyHornet: Did you ever feel like Danny Boyle was taking a chance by casting you rather than a proven film actress? If so, did that influence your approach to the film?
Freida Pinto: I think Danny definitely took a risk when he cast me, after all this was my first film and I didn’t have any past work in terms of acting to show him. But when a director like him who I have so much respect for, took that step, it really made me trust my abilities even more. Danny having faith in me made me even more sure of my own potential.
RubyHornet: You were born in Mumbai, how did you relate to the events that take place in the movie prior to Jamal’s winning? Did you see some of those things as a child?
Freida Pinto: Mumbai is a city that definitely doesn’t try and hide its imperfections. You will see the rich and poor living right next to eachother. It is a city of contrasts and having lived here I was not a stranger to those sights. I have traveled by train for 5 years through college, and it’s very common to see street children selling things. I also remember being in school during the riots, however I was safe at home and did not witness it first hand.
RubyHornet: In terms of making the film, did you speak with or watch the child actors playing your character to give Latiika certain movements or speech pattern? Or were you allowed to make her your own once she was an adult?
Freida Pinto: I did watch both the younger Latika’s so that the growth pattern seemed seamless. Plus, I had to adapt certain mannerisms from middle Latika, like her flair for dancing. Watching my younger versions definitely made me realize that I had a task ahead cause they were just fabulous. Their performance raised the bar for me. At the same time, Danny did give us alot of freedom as far as discovering our characters was concerned, and I was encouraged to look within myself rather than someone else’s performance to further develop my character.
RubyHornet: The concepts of fate and destiny run throughout “Slumdog Millionaire”, especially in the way the movie unfolds. Do you share any of the film’s belief in such concepts?
Freida Pinto: How can I not? My personal journey through this film couldn’t have been possible without fate and destiny on my side. Yes I worked hard to make it, but there are many talented people out there who work just as hard and don’t get such an opportunity. I definitely feel like luck and destiny had a part to play with my success.
RubyHornet: You underwent a tough audition process for “Slumdog Millionaire”, since then have movie roles offers been pouring in?
Freida Pinto: I wouldn’t say that movie roles are pouring in, but I am reading some scripts.
RubyHornet: Can you talk a bit about your TV work. I understand that you participated in a special about the “raw beauty and destroyed grandeur of the lost paradise Afghanishtan.” What did that program entail?
Freida Pinto: It was a travel show that attempted at showing places in a new light. Even though there are differences in culture, traditions, eating habits, languages, economy etc. in different parts of the world, through the show we wanted to have viewers see the basic human cord that ties all of us together. In the end we are more similar than we are different, no matter where we come from.
RubyHornet: What do you see as America’s influence on India, and India’s influence on America? Is the relationship reciprocal?
Freida Pinto: I think the relationship is getting more reciprocal now as the gap between India and the west is being bridged, not just through entertainment but commerce as well.
RubyHornet: Do you have any more film roles lined up for the future?
Freida Pinto: Hopefully I’ll be doing some interesting work in India and abroad. My journey has just started and I don’t want to constrict myself to Hollywood or Bollywood.. All the world’s a stage for me. However, right now I just want to soak in every bit of my “Slumdog” experience. I am enjoying the reactions the film is receiving across the world and I can’t wait for it to release in India.
RubyHornet: Lastly, for some of our readers, this is their introduction to you. What are three things you want them to know about Frieda Pinto before checking out more of your work?
Freida Pinto: (1) Now that my dream of being an actor has finally turned into reality – I’m here to stay and will do my best to entertain audiences.
(2) I’m a person of instincts, I go with my gut feeling and do and say what I believe in, even if it gets me into trouble sometimes.
(3) I am a complete family person. My parents and sister mean the world to me.
Photos courtesy of: Freida Pinto & foxsearchlight.com/slumdogmillionaire/