Actress Frieda Pinto has never been one to play it safe. After making a dream debut in Danny Boyleâs 2008 hit Slumdog Millionaire, sheâs done a number of major Hollywood films, becoming one of the only Indians to make her mark so quickly in that space. Most recently, sheâs been a part of Love Sonia, a film about sex trafficking thatâs all set to hit silver screens across the country.
Sitting down for a chat, Frieda reveals that despite breaking the western barrier, there was a time when she felt well and truly lost. âI was not lost because I wasnât getting work. I was getting too much work. But I wasnât satisfied personally. And thatâs because I wasnât choosing the work I was doing, I was just doing whatever was coming my way,â she says.
She then decided to take a break to re-evaluate her position â a choice that not many actresses with a tonne of work coming their way would have the courage to make. âTen years ago, I was not confident. I had so many questions in my head, and I was desperately looking for answers. But after my break, I came back with loads of confidence. Today, Iâm sure I donât feel lost anymore. I can accept my flaws and speak my mind. And I am the happiest Iâve been,â she adds.
Talking about her experience working in the west, Frieda says that sheâs been trying to change peopleâs incorrect notions about India, and Bollywood. âI keep telling them that our films are much more than musical-masala films. The sensibilities of Indian filmmakers are definitely changing and evolving. Theyâre coming out with films like Baahubali, which was a huge commercial hit, as well as Masaan, which deserved all the rave reviews it got,â she says, adding âI also tell them to watch the films of actresses like Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil.â
âPeople in the west think that India is a conservative country and I keep telling them that we are not conservative at all,â Frieda says.
Ask her how it feels to be making the country the proud and she responds, âAll the citizens of India can do their bit and make the country proud. To make a change, you need not take out a morcha. You can solve problems within your own community, in your own way.â
âOn my part, I try my best to promote the education of girl-children. There are about 104 million girls across the globe. And the day we can say that every one of them is educated and capable of earning a living will be the proudest day for all of us,â she adds.
Talking about her upcoming film, in which she plays a sex worker, she says, âMy character, Rashmi, is really colourful. Itâs a role thatâs been written well. Love Sonia depicts the plight of Mumbaiâs sex workers in an authentic manner. A lot of research has gone into the film.â
In the film, Freida shares space with Richa Chadha, Rajkummar Rao, Manoj Bajpayee and Demi Moore, among others, and she says that working with them has been a great experience. âI was really impressed by Richaâs performance. She is a phenomenal actor, and I am honoured to be working with her and Manoj Bajpayee. Richa is an actor who loves becoming her character, and thatâs what acting is all about. Itâs about being the character on the reel,â she says.
Meanwhile, sheâs also preparing for the release of Mowgli directed by Andy Serkis. âAndy was really surprised when my agent called him and told him that I wanted to be a part of the film,â Frieda reveals, adding, âI didnât care even if it was a small role.â
âI told my agent that when I was a kid, every Sunday, I would rush home from Sunday School just to hear the song âJungle jungle baat chali haiâ¦ chaddi pehen ke phool khila haiâ. I grew up watching the show, and so I really wanted to be a part of the film. Itâs a huge achievement for me,â she says.
Mowgli, which has been in the making for over three years now, is scheduled to be released on Netflix sometime next year. And Frieda will be seen playing Mejua in it. As they say, sometimes the smallest things can bring the greatest satisfaction.