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Freida Pinto to walk the red carpet at Cannes

Woody Allen’s leading girl, Antonio Banderas’s co-star, best known Indian face in Hollywood, Freida Pinto will walk the red carpet at Cannes this year. We catch her before yet another Slumdog Cinderella moment.

entertainment Updated: Apr 18, 2010 13:53 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Freida PintoIt's been a year since Slumdog Millionare put her on top of the world. Sitting pretty across the seven seas, Freida Pinto looks down to tell us how much life has changed

So, are you the next Bond girl?
I have already issued an official statement that I have not been approached for the next Bond film opposite Daniel Craig as yet. The rumours are of course flattering but for the moment my projects for 2010 - 2011 include Julian Schnabel's Miral, Woody Allen's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger and Tarsem Singh's Dawn Of War.

Okay, just as a matter of curiosity, who is your favourite Bond and which is the Bond movie you like best?
I thank the sun, moon and stars for giving the world Pierce Brosnan. I loved him in The Thomas Crown Affair but for some reason, I can’t think of a Bond film featuring him right now.

Did you watch the Oscars this year?
Yes, I did watch the Oscars, as I do every year. I was rooting for Gabourey Sidibe who I thought was fabulous in her first film Precious. And Sandra Bullock who besides a phenomenal performance in The Blind Side looked so very beautiful. Sandra finally got her due!

What memories of the red carpet did it bring back?
I was reminded of the chaos, the battle with time to finish all the important interviews and the non-stop running around in high heels which made your feet ache after a while. 2009 will always be a great year for me.

Why weren’t you there at this year’s Academy Awards show, as a presenter or at least as part of the audience?
That’s a question for the producers and organisers. (Laughs) They probably had an overdose of us last year. I can’t question their decision.

When you look back on the year that was, what have been the highs and the lows since Slumdog Millionaire’s release? Has Freida Pinto changed much?
Of course I have changed… And have also remained the same! (Laughs) Confused? Well, let me explain… My level of awareness has changed and so has the sense of self-reliance. My ambition to succeed has amplified and my responsibility to both my family and myself has increased. But at heart I’m still the same Freida who her near and dear ones know best. And I like it that way!

How close do you feel to Latika, your first screen avatar, and does ‘Jai Ho…’ still set your feet tapping?
(Laughs) Forget just mine, ‘Jai Ho…’ still has the world’s feet tapping. That is AR Rahman’s brilliance. Latika as a person is quite different from me. The one thing we have in common is our belief in destiny. We both believe that at the end of the day, we will get what we truly deserve and more often than not, it is what we desire. I loved the layers her character had, so subtle and understated.

When you see the film today, would you have played the role any differently?
There are scenes I would definitely play differently now that I have worked a little more. But then again, I don’t want to change the past because that is why I am where I’m today. Moreover, I think the naiveté of not being trained or being even a little experienced is what eventually paid off just fine.

One of the Slumdog Millionaire kids,Rubina Ali, has already come out with her autobiography, Slumgirl Dreaming, that is a bestseller. Any plans of writing a tell-all book too?
Never thought of it. It is a bit too premature to do something like that.

Do you think the lives of these kids have really changed post the movie or is it a case of My Fair Lady where they feel alienated from their surroundings and yet are unable to fit into the world they aspire to?
I would have said that this is a question the kids should be asked when they are a little older. But the media has troubled them enough, so I would say, “Leave them alone and let them be kids.” Slumdog Millionaire was the experience of a lifetime for all of us. We tried really hard to keep it innocent for the kids till matters got out of hand. It was a bit confusing at times even for me so it must have been mighty confusing for them.
All they need is a strong social support system that they seem to have thanks to some of the good-willed people who worked on the film. More than anything else, I’m happy that the kids have been enrolled into schools. With education, they will definitely be far more equipped to understand a part of this crazy world if not the whole.

Danny Boyle has been in town quite a few times, have you connected?
I met Danny recently at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles where he was being honoured. We didn’t get a chance to meet in Mumbai as we were in different towns at the time.

If he were to offer you his next film, will it be a “yes” or a “no”?
I've never thought of it but if he did, I'd be honoured to work with Danny again.

Do you visit St John’s High School where your mother is a teacher? What’s the one thing you tell any girl who aspires to be Freida Pinto?
I did visit once. I have never felt a day older than 18 so I didn’t think I was meeting kids eight-10 years younger than me. The interaction was great and if anyone aspired to be Freida Pinto, I asked her not to do so and instead be just herself. You can’t lose your individuality and identity.
It is difficult these days with adolescents trying to imitate whom they see on celluloid. It’s good to be inspired but not at the cost of becoming an imitation of someone who already exists.

You’ve been spending a lot of time in Mumbai but have resolutely steered clear of Bollywood that is just waiting to snap you up. Why?
I have been in and out of Mumbai. I was here for Christmas, then, returned for two weeks before I left for Canada. I’m open to films in India. But I know that my looks, interests and appeal may not be extremely mainstream so I’m not sure if I’d be able to do justice to a big commercial project. My idea of cinema is more alternative and global. And that kind of cinema is definitely on the rise in India as well.

Do you still feel at home in Mumbai after being the toast of Hollywood? Ever see yourself relocating to Beverly Hills some day?
I like the fact that I have no fixed address right now. I’m a bit of a wanderer. I will go where work takes me. And when there’s no work, I will be lounging around in our crazy and beautiful Maximum City, Mumbai!

You’re working with some of the best looking guys, from Dev Patel to Antonio Banderas. For whom does your heart beat a little faster and how does it feel to be every woman’s envy?
My heart beats for all of them when I play their love interest on screen. (Laughs) And for the record, I don’t have any scenes with the charismatic Antonio Banderas. At least not yet!

At 25, you are on top of the world. Where do you see yourself at 30?

Hopefully still on top of the world and still very grounded.

On the Style Mantra of one of World's Best Dressed Women

‘My BAFTA gown was priceless’
These days, since I workout more regularly, I’m veering towards trendy sportswear. I love my Nike Lunarglide and LunarElite trainers. Stylish and comfy, they are a welcome break from those high heels!
The most expensive garment I ever wore was undoubtedly my BAFTA gown. I haven’t asked Oscar De la Renta it’s price but I can tell you it’s priceless!There are so many designers I'd swear by but let’s talk India for a change.
I can’t tell you how blessedly underrated James Ferriera is. I love his cuts and detailing. His clothes are made to romance a woman’s body of any shape or size. There’s also Rohit Bal, Raakesh Aggarwal, Raghuvendra Rathore and Nikasha Tawadey. I have never refused to walk for anyone. But since I endorse L’Oreal, my walking for any designer at the Lakme Fashion Week and giving media bytes would be considered as a breach of contract as part of the competitive clause. I was there only as a spectator.

On Miral, a role that spans a lifetime- ‘It’s a story that needed to be told’

Working with Julian Schnabel was a memorable and moving experience. Being an artist, he makes his films look like an enchanting piece of viable art. His visuals and music are so aesthetically superior that it gives the film a whole new dimension. He was a delight to work with and learn from. He is visceral and emotional rather than someone who wants to aimlessly intellectualise a human story. And that tied in beautifully with what my character had to do.
It was great teamwork and his encouragement only made me more confident. I can’t divulge too much about the film but I can certainly say that Miral is a story that needed to be told. Will it get me an Oscar nomination? It would be awfully wrong to make a film keeping an award in mind. That makes one completely deflect from the purpose and lose all sincerity. That much I learned from the magic that was Slumdog Millionaire.

On her idol Sushmita Sen- ‘She’s still a classic beauty’

Sushmita Sen is still the classic beauty she was when she won the Miss Universe title at 18, so very real and well spoken. It’s wonderful that she has bagged the Indian franchise to the Miss Universe contest. Would I judge the contest if asked? I’m not sure if I could.I feel bad judging girls who have worked so hard to groom themselves to reach certain ‘standards’. I’ll go by my instincts if and when I am asked.

On why she’s not snapping up endorsement offers- ‘I am strongly against fairness creams’

I endorse only what I truly believe in or believe there’s scope to fall in love with. You will never catch me promoting a fairness cream as I am strongly against it. If and when something good comes my way I’ll do it. I’ve been joking with my agents that I should endorse a suitcase brand to justify my being always on the move.
But for now it's L'Oreal all the way for me. I am the global face for the brand, across skin, hair and cosmetics.

On Woody Allen, and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger- ‘Woody doesn’t like it when his actors act’

Did Woody Allen live up to my first impression of him? He didn’t really need to. He can be who he wants to be. That’s Woody, the loveliest, most charming 70-something man that I’ve ever met! It was a privilege and honour to have worked with him. A story to tell the grandchildren for sure!
Woody envisions a scene in a certain way and expresses his expectations very clearly. He appreciates improvisations in performance as long it enhances the character and the story.
He doesn’t like it when his actors “act”. Be organic is the most simple and brilliant advise an actor can get.When I got to the sets I was really nervous. I was being directed by someone whose work is respected and sought after the world over. And that was reason enough to be nervous. But once I started shooting, I realised that I had everything to learn from and grow on this project rather than waste my time being nervous.
Unfortunately, I had no scenes with Sir Anthony Hopkins but I did meet him briefly. and now I know why everyone absolutely adores him!
However, I did get to work with Anupam Kher in You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. He is someone who has so much experience in India that it was a pleasure sharing screen space with him. When I saw Anupam on set I remembered all the movies featuring him that I’d watched as a kid and felt really proud to have another fellow Indian on the project.
Then there was the ever-effervescent Meera Syal who has the most brilliant comic timing. She had us in splits all the time with her improvisations.

Freida’s quick fix

A movie you can watch again and again
The Dark Knight!
A song you tune into when you have a touch of the blues… Enya’s ‘May it be…’
A book that you’d love to see adapted on screen with you in it
Haroun And The Sea Of Stories by Salman Rushdie. Tricky but would be beautiful if it was nailed right.
Your favourite Bollywood actor and actress...
Amongst the actors, Irrfan Khan is brilliant! Naseeruddin Shah is a genius. Abhay Deol and Sharman Joshi are so different and natural in their acting styles.
Amongst the actresses, Tabu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kajol and Rani Mukherji. All eight in the same film would be just stellar. There are many others I haven’t mentioned but these are the names that comes first to the mind.
If you were marooned on a deserted island, who would you want to keep you company
Ewan McGregor, beautiful!
Your style icon...
No one in particular but Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of style!
Your first experiment in the kitchen
I was 19, I made Spaghetti Arabiatta for the first time in my life and it was delectable . Cooking is a ‘mood’ thing and I seem to be in the ‘mood’ a lot these days. I cook quite well now since I don’t have my mother or my lovely helper Rupa to cook for me. Couscous salad with cranberries and pecans and some grilled Sea Bass... Mmm, delicious!
If Bond were to come to Mumbai, where would you take him and what would you feed him…
I’d probably take him to Excellensea hoping he is not strictly vegetarian or has any fish or seafood allergies.
Describe Freida Pinto in three words…
That’s not possible!

First Published: Apr 18, 2010 11:52 IST