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‘Yes, I was engaged but there was no secret marriage’

Frieda Pinto on Hollywood, Bollywood and Follywood.. in a téte-â-téte with Sanchita Guha.

entertainment Updated: Mar 13, 2009 16:16 IST
Sanchita Guha

Frieda Pinto on Hollywood, Bollywood and Follywood.. in a téte-â-téte with Sanchita Guha

There’s this lovely saying, ‘No one can make you feel the way you don’t want to feel, unless you consent to it’. And I don’t consent to it. So I can still walk to the market to pick up vegetables though my mum’s a bit scared.

This the first time you have returned to India after Slumdog Millionaire’s release. Notice any changes?
A new construction has come up outside my house. But otherwise Bombay.. the people.. are still the same. I lived here for 22 years before I embarked on my little six-month adventure. (Smiles) People are more loving now because I’m Freida Pinto, the actress in Slumdog.. It is nice to receive recognition from people of your own country.

Could you still go back to your old life?
There’s this lovely saying, ‘No one can make you feel the way you don’t want to feel, unless you consent to it’. And I don’t consent to it. So I can still walk to the market to pick up vegetables, though my mum’s a bit scared.

Can you still travel by a local train?
That’s the only thing I miss. I was such a pro at jumping in and out of trains. But mum and dad would be really worried if I took the local train now.

How confident are you of the future at this point?
I’ve always had passion and the drive.. that’s never going to leave me even when youth does. And now I have the opportunities too. I’m super happy with the offers I’m getting. Yes, I feel confident of the future.

How are you going about planning your Hollywood career?
I don’t think you can ever be too prepared in life. I am just hoping for the best. I know the kind of projects I’d love to be a part of.

Like the Woody Allen film.. tell us about it?
Sorry, I can’t talk about it. But I can tell you that hopefully, after I’ve got over my nervousness, this is going to be one interesting project. Woody Allen is a sort of a..

Legendary director?
Absolutely. But he is also the Hollywood equivalent of an arthouse director.

Slumdog Millionaire has made a lot of money and could establish you as a bankable star.
I’m against the word ‘star’, I prefer the word ‘actor’. As an actor you give the film what human beings give each other in real life.
Someone said at the Screen Actors Guild Awards that ‘actors have this gift to play God, of breathing life into these characters and making them come alive’. If you are just a star, you cannot do that but as an actor, you can connect with human emotions. Hopefully, I’ll be doing that in my next film.

Any particular roles you are looking at?
I’d love to be part of a blockbuster that has a performance-oriented role. I have this urge to reach out to as many people as possible, in the way Slumdog.. did. It was a little film but it had honesty, sincerity and this goodness to it. I guess that helped make it that big.

Did the eight Oscars it won come as a surprise?
We were at the edge of our seat throughout the ceremony though honestly, after the first two awards we were like, “That’s about it, we aren’t going to be winning any more awards.”

The fact that it went on to win six more shows that people loved the film and that gives us immense satisfaction.

Did you style yourself for the Oscars?
I had a stylist who would bring me clothes. Everyone was asking, “So, what are you wearing to the Oscars?” My stylist and I had this pact that once we found the dress, we were not going to tell anyone about it. I found it around the time of the SAG Awards. The moment I saw it, I knew this was it. And hid it from the world.

How would you describe your personal style?
Effortless and comfortable. The day I try too hard is the day I make a mess of everything.

What’s all this talk about Kate Winslet and Scarlett Johansson taking you under their wing?
No one has come to me and said, “I am going to take you under my wing.” People should stop believing rumours but that’s the way the world rolls.

Kate Winslet is very encouraging.. she’s really warm. I know if I’m ever stuck, she’d help me. Scarlett Johansson was lovely. She told me it would be fun working with Woody Allen.

Are they your role models?
That would be Meryl Streep who even at her age pulls off everything you throw at her. I met her and she was wonderful. You see these people on TV and then you meet them and realise they are real people. If they weren’t they could not play these human characters.

The British are supposed to be different from Americans, more down-to-earth. After having worked with a British crew, do you find Hollywood a harder place?
I don’t think of such things. When a person is nice, it doesn’t matter where that he or she comes from. I’ve been really lucky, I’ve met only nice people so far.

The west sees you as something exotic? Is there a possibility of being typecast?
My job is to be an actor. If they consider me exotic, then I would have an edge. It’ll be interesting but hopefully, I’ll not always be playing Indian characters.

Bollywood hasn’t come to you yet. Disappointed?
Not at all! There’s a time and place for everything. I’ve waited for a long time, struggled for three years before I got Slumdog Millionaire. But the wait was worthwhile. As my Indian manager keeps saying, patience is a virtue.

Any Bollywood directors you’d want to work with?
I just met Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra on the flight. I loved his Rang De Basanti, I’d love to work on a film like that. Vishal Bhardwaj is a fantastic filmmaker, Madhur Bhandarkar, too. And Aamir Khan.. oh, wouldn’t I love to be a part of his production.

Aamir has been this idol since I saw his first film. I met him, and you know, I thought he’d be this very outgoing person. But he is very shy, actually. I like that about him.

There are loads of people in India who make beautiful films. Hopefully, now that Slumdog.. has done a kind of crossover, people will be more attentive to the films made here. They deserve attention.

One last question.. about Rohan Antao.
Yeah, ask me.

You were reported to have said, “I have this opportunity to become an internationally renowned actress, and I can’t do it if I am tied down..”
Misquotes happen all the time. I don’t know where that one came from. Things are quoted out of context but I’ve learnt to make my peace with that. There’s no point in being upset about something that you have not said.

But you were a couple?
It is true that we were engaged. And there was no secret marriage. Stories like that make me laugh.

When they heard it my mum and dad said, “How come we were not invited to the wedding?” and I was like, “Very funny!” It can be annonying when the sanctity of your personal space is invaded. But that’s also a part and parcel of my so-called glamour status at this point of time, right?