Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Freida Pinto on T-Mag: Or luck from one brown woman to another
Not much surprises me about India or Indians. But the enduring popularity of Freida Pinto has definitely surprised me.
This fall, she made it to the cover of the T Magazine - The New York Times Style Magazine that comes out every quarter, and the video above of her interview is available on the magazine website. It is no mean feat considering that she has only appeared in one bonafide film Slumdog Millionaire - an Oscar winner, sure, but still just one film. And even there, her total screen time didn't exceed more than 20 minutes, the Jai Ho song at the end included.
Sure enough, I liked her in the film two years ago. She was cute, small and most importantly really, really brown. Not tanned, not bronze, but brown. And being a brown person from a fairness-obsessed India, I was thrilled.
But there were reasons for me to believe that the fame was shortlived.
a) She didn't have Bollywood star looks. She is indeed too brown. So that career was not happening.
b) Slumdog Millionaire hardly tested her acting chops. She was mostly expected to look either sullen or terrified. So there was no reason for me believe that roles would drop into her lap.
c) There are only so many Asian roles going in Hollywood, anyway.
The fact that she was immediately offered a James Bond film seemed to further my belief that her career was short-lived. Because, honestly, how many Bond girls can we think of who went to have serious long-lived careers as actresses?
But Ms Pinto has shown a remarkable ability to remain in news - and mostly for the right reasons. She has even wormed her way into the ensemble cast of the soon-to-be released Woody Allen film - You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. (Wouldn't it be thrilling if the title refers to Ms Pinto?).
Perhaps, the answer to her popularity lies in her charm. As her interview video evidences, she is talkative, intelligent, good humoured and doesn't seem to take herself too seriously. Fresh, fresh is the word that popped in my mind when I saw her interview.
I still don't believe that her career will be long-lived. Simply because we cannot ignore the fact that she is brown and very South Asian looking. To seem believable, she will have to embody characters that are South Asian. And for South Asian characters to emerge, we will need more South Asian writers in Hollywood. And as we all know, Indians don't write for a living, they become doctors and engineers.
Still, as one really, really brown person to another, I wish her all the luck. She has defied me once, I hope she defies me again.
The official trailor of You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: