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Thread: Freida Pinto on the prowl
09-30-2009, 03:29 PM #1
Freida Pinto on the prowl
On October 18, Freida Pinto celebrates her 25th birthday. Till her 24th, not too many people knew her though she was doing the modelling rounds in Mumbai. And those who knew her more or less looked through her.
Your correspondent saw Freida in the flesh once in passing, at Andheri railway station, Mumbai, a little over four years ago on a wet July evening. The red and green lights of the tracks shimmered and fell in flakes over the grey steel rails. The platform was a collection of puddles. The PA system was a muffled oracle of delayed departures. Freida was waiting to wade into one of the crowded Churchgate-bound trains. And your correspondent remembers thinking at the time, ah, pretty girl. But no one seemed to take notice of her ebony grace.
Generally, we are a racist nation. We tend to think of fair complexioned people as superior or at least more acceptable. A black, African Sonia Gandhi would have met with more political and social resistance than her white, European self. All our calendar goddesses with the exception of Kali — who in any case is no celestial pin-up girl — are fair.
Although Freida did do a few modelling assignments, she was finding her path dim in the pigment of our imagination . Then Slumlord Millionaire lit up her way, altered her life as it did the lives of Resul Pookutty, child actors Rubina Ali and Ismail Azharuddin.
Resul and, more drastically, Rubina and Ismail, are leading a schizoid life. Resul can be now seen wearing suits, instead of the normal frumpy T-shirt and slept-in jeans, going around the country inaugurating shows and making politically naive comments like, “The government should take over culture.” He clearly has begun to see himself as an uncomfortably suited thinker. He can be also seen endorsing without conviction sound equipment on TV channels . Reassuringly though, he still sports a beard, a sort of tenuous, hairy bridge to his fraught and relatively anonymous past as a sound artiste.
Rubina and Ismail are truly vertically split. Guided along the Red Carpet in some majestic hotel in Los Angeles by international celebrities like Danny Boyle one day, the next they are out on the squalid streets of Garib Nagar in Bandra East, watching a bulldozer demolish their shacks. The next day they are on a plane to Hong Kong to do a dance show, but the day after, off the plane and back in Bombay, they are swatting mosquitoes.
Recently, Ismail’s father, a dealer in second-hand furniture, died of tuberculosis , roughly around the same time when the boy signed — as has Rubina — to do a film starring Anthony Hopkins. One day, funereal grief, the next, fully dressed for the camera and off to London. What is this child supposed to feel?
Unlike the others touched and transformed into leading double lives by the magic wand of the movie, Freida has taken care not to return to the depressive part of her life, India. She has wisely chosen to stay abroad and fly the manic skies of Hollywood.
With the steely resolve that is often characteristic of despair — who wants to live and die a denizen of Malad, Freida’s hometown? — she has figured in just about every major international media and movie party, looking bright, fetching and wanting to go places. These include Dolce & Gabbana Fashion Week at Milan, Extreme Beauty — a Vogue event, the 81st Annual Academy Awards, LA, Orange British Academy Film Awards, London, the 61st Directors Guild of America Awards, LA, the 20th Producers Guild of America Award, Hollywood, the 15th Actors Guild Awards, LA, the 66th Annual Globe Awards, Beverly Hills, Toronto Film Festival Premiere, the 5th Dubai Film Festival and so it goes, each evening glittering like a diamond, and Freida wearing it to her advantage.
According to reports, last year she made more money — about $2 million — than any Bollywood heroine, some of whom would think nothing of breaking a leg or flaunting a tit or two to get a career going in Hollywood. All of them, including Aishwarya Rai, have met with varying degrees of failure.
At present Freida is in London shooting for a Woody Allen movie. This will be followed by a Julian Schnabel project, and there are others in the queue. Magazines and websites rank her as one of the hundred-most-beautiful women in the world. Last week People said she was one of the 10 bestdressed women, along with Michelle Obama and Kate Winslet.
Freida’s success is as stunning as it is sudden. Within the space of 12 months, a Mangalore girl from Malad has become one of the most recognisable faces of India abroad. The grit and vengeance with which she has taken to the new role is nothing short of an achievement. Clearly, the real slumdog millionaire is Freida.
There must have been times back in Mumbai when Freida counted her change, say, on her day out with the then boy friend, Rohan Antao, whom she later, sensibly, dumped, along with the tattered wallet. When you want to fly, you don’t want a stone attached to your toes. Her present mascot is Dev Patel, the gawky hero of Slumdog Millionaire . But the general opinion is that she is too good for him as well. As one of the comments posted on a Freida site says: “Lose that dork, geek, toy boy attachment on your arm.”
Sure. Just give Freida time. This is a woman as hard as her pretty bones. And she will break yours with a smile if that helps her to get where she wants to go. India’s first genuine celebrity predator is at large. She may be beautiful. But she is very hungry. Stay out of her way.
09-30-2009, 06:24 PM #2