It’s been three years since the Oscar-wining Slumdog Millionaire (SM, 2008) made Freida Pinto and Dev Patel household names. But Jamal and Latika’s love story still has the world going Jai Ho…. “In the US they say Jay Ho…,’” laughs Freida, admitting that everyone’s waiting to see Dev and her back on screen together.
The actor says that they’re waiting for the right script, pointing out that it will be difficult recreating the magic that Simon (writer Simon Beaufoy), Danny (director Danny Boyle) and AR (composer AR Rahman) brought on screen with SM. “Anything less and we will be digging our own graves, but maybe a comedy some day,” she shrugs. “Dev is so good that I can just sit and laugh watching him.”
Bring up the subject of marriage and the 26-year-old is instantly on red alert, "I haven’t given it a thought. It’s an institution, my parents are married, and I will be too. But right now, my focus is entirely on my career."
Freida’s just had a big release — Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes — which topped box-office charts in the West. In India, the multi-million dollar franchise sequel was hit by the revenue sharing tussle between producers and multiplex owners and opened only at single screens. "Yeah, many of my friends complained that they didn’t know where to watch it," admits Freida. "Still, I’m told it did fairly well. The 1968 film was a classic. We had a task wooing not just today’s generation, but also winning over those who have seen the earlier film. We didn’t even have real apes, but technology came to our aid."
There’s been some disgruntlement over her not promoting the film in India. Freida informs that she had signed a contract with Fox a year ago to promote the film in Los Angeles, New York and London with the producer, director, co-actors and the entire technical team. "I couldn’t have run back to India earlier," she argues.
Will Freida return in the next Apes film? “They’re working on the script. Once that’s locked, they will decide on the producer, director, technical crew before getting down to the casting,” she informs. “They can’t confirm me now and later say, ‘Sorry, we don’t have a part for you.’ But I’d love to do another Apes.”
Fair and simple
In a recent interview to British publication, The Independent, Freida had despaired over the popularity of fairness creams and bleaching portions to lighten skin in “South East Asia”. She said, “It’s just this thing that people (in India) are so fascinated by white skin… But the whole idea (is) that you have to be fair — without naming actors, but there are actors who admit it — the fairer you are, the easier it is.”
She pointed out that fairness creams cannot give one confidence and that American and European audiences are receptive to non-Western stories. “They (Americans) love tanning! Why the hell are you tanning that much? Then in my country people want a fairer skin tone! It’s just crazy.”
The remarks were perceived as ‘racist’ and stirred up a storm of protests. The actor responds, “My quote on the concept of fairness was very simple and shouldn’t have turned into an unnecessary controversy. All I wanted to convey was that I believe that skin tone cannot override things like merit, talent, values and the like. Potential and capability should be considered before anything else.”