Apart from being a popular model and actor, Freida Pinto is also involved in a few philanthropic endeavours. The actor, who lives in Los Angeles, USA, visits India frequently for charity events. She also propagates the cause of women’s empowerment through various campaigns and films. Here, Freida discusses the Indian film industry, the importance of women’s empowerment, and more.
According to you, how is Hollywood most different from Bollywood?
I believe I will have to work in a Bollywood film to answer that question fairly. But I must also point out that instead of comparing, it’s better to learn how to take what’s best from every culture, and strengthen your own enterprise. I think (from Hollywood), we can learn how to distribute smaller indie films in a way that’s not very different from how commercial movies are distributed.
Why haven’t you acted in a Bollywood film yet?
I will never say no to a good project no matter where it comes from, and that includes India.
Freida hasn't worked in a Bollywood film yet.
You root for women’s empowerment. What is your opinion of the way women are perceived in India?
Change is a gradual process, and it is still underway in India. But I am happy that there are examples of so many women in larger roles, like Indra Nooyi (entrepreneur) and Chanda Kochhar (MD and CEO of a popular bank in India). I think the mindsets of Indians used to be a big problem earlier, but that’s changing now. However, we have a monumental issue at hand, because it’s not just as simple as, say building schools and toilets, but making sure that girls and boys get quality education in school, and are safe. It is also important to ensure that all children are given the same opportunity to explore their full potential. And for that, we need a shift in behavioural attitudes. One way to achieve that is through education. By that, I don’t just mean providing kids with school bags and pencils, but giving them a learning that is well-rounded.
Will you visit India more frequently to talk about women’s empowerment now?
I visit India quite often. I just don’t announce my arrival and departure every time. Also, since I’ve lived in India all my life, I am well aware of the intrinsic realities of the country. It takes time to build a movement. It took us a good three years to develop Girl Rising India, but we continue to build a system that is not just effective on paper, but one that actually works too. We can’t wait to start work on the second phase of this movement. Like every successful campaign, we have to find the right investment partners. I think that is the only tough part.
Do you think a cause that is taken up by a celebrity gets more attention from people?
Since most people idolise their favourite celebrities, they pay greater heed to matters that those celebs associate with. So, if celebrities can be voices that can encourage a need for change in people’s minds, I will absolutely encourage it, as long as the focus stays on the cause and not the celebrity. Having said that, I have to admit that people are also pushing initiatives more now, without being celebrity focused, which is certainly a sign of growth and change.