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:


Anonymous said...

Wat pinto is south asian looking??..tats a big joke..she look more like latina than india.Apart from that woody's film she is not playing south asian role in any other films.In Miral(PALESTINIAN),RISE OF APES 3D(MEXICAN SCIENTIST) and in IMMORTALS 3D(GREEK PRIESTESS).In ur post u failed to mention tat she is also playing lead role in 2 big budget film like Immortals($80 mill) with mickey rourke,Rise of apes($90 mill) with James franco and just signed up for a new film Black thirst($40 mill) with antonio banderas.

globalbabble said...

Oh dear! My mistake. If you think she is Latina, then it must be so.

But thankfully you have corrected me now.

Anonymous said...

Its not just me.Most of the ppl here thinks she look like latina.Just check out Ms.pinto's Imdb msg board.Majority of the post are like she is latina,brazilian,mexican etc and also do u think a famous production company like fox studios or universal pics would cast her as latina(rise of apes) or greek(Immortals) if she looked like Indian??..indian girls would never be able to succeed in holly unless they have non Indian look like pinto.

globalbabble said...

Hi Emmanuelle,

You know I have never been to America and know very little about Latinos. So I'll believe you :-)

All the same, as someone who grew up in India let me assure you that Ms Pinto is your average Indian girl. In fact, as she rightly said in her interview, in India we wouldn't consider her extraordinarily beautiful. Just about pretty would be the general assessment. Bizarre - but very true.

Good for her if she can break it into Hollywood - as I said, I only wish her luck!

Anonymous said...

Seriously i don't get why many indians hate freida so much..almost all the hatred/racist comments about her are made only by indians or some other jealous south asians.I think most of the indians are unable to accept the simple fact that she is considered as great beauty here.Those haters needs to understand tat she successful in holly only because of her non indian looks.

globalbabble said...

Hi Emmanuelle,

I can't remember making any racist or hateful remarks about Freida Pinto. On the contrary, I am happy that she is going great guns. I even remarked over her really charming personality.

But just as I accept your view that she is greatly beautiful by Latino standards, perhaps, you can accept my view that she is not by Indian standards.

Eitherway, if Freida goes on to have a remarkable Hollywood career, it will only be better for the self-esteem of also-supposedly-average-looking girls like me, right. At least, we can believe that somewhere in the world, we will be considered great beauties too.

Subha Giri said...

I agree...Its refreshing to see her and hold the "brown" ground..:).,,but really, what is bugging you about Indian doctors and engineers?:). I happen to know a fair share of Indian writers, not in hollywood of course, but I also happen to know Indian doctors and engineers who are writers..:)).

globalbabble said...

Hi Shubha,

Oh, I do think that Indians write, and write well. But it is not a trend to take it up professionally as a career, as you would have to if you wanted to push your stories in Hollywood.

Who knows may be the next generation would be more risk-taking. Already many are taking up writing books as a profession, perhaps others will go to Hollywood.

prerna said...

I completely agree with Mlle Beart
Ms Pinto looks anything but indian..infact i think she looks more chinese than south asian...i am doing an extensive study on her genelogy,and her roots have been traced back to "mencius" era, so kindly get your facts right!
We love Ms Pinto so stop spreading this propanga against her..
oye behena, mujhe bahut maaza aya yeah poora comment section phad kee....really mera din safal ho gaya ...:)

Vaibhavi said...

I saw her attend various award shows/functions way before I got around to watching the movie. I thought she was gorgeous, had a million $ smile & was a real treat to watch on the red carpet. Either she has great taste or a great stylist, but I thought she always looked fab.

When I got around to watching the movie, I was like.. whaa? How did this girl get so much publicity? She was in the movie for like 5 mins, and she didn't make any impression at all. I could've blinked n missed her part in the movie!

I do hope she makes it, but only because then I'll get to see her on the red carpet. Otherwise, meh. Couldn't care less. She should do something else, like be a VJ or something. She's gorgeous and bubbly n likable. But acting? Naah.

globalbabble said...

What I found really peculiar was that she was nominated for several acting awards including the BAFTA, and actually won a few.

What did you think of the film itself?

Vaibhavi said...

Plot was interesting. Rehman's song was spectacularly overhyped. He's done so much better before!

globalbabble said...

Dunno - Jai ho grew on me tremendously. I really enjoy it now. Though yes he has done better before.

Swati said...

Interesting :-) .... Is there a connection between Latino and Indian roots ... So many people told me that I could pass as one,(more specifically Mexican)with little Spanish I was learning :-)

even the food is so similar!!! Tortilla == chapati...salsa == chutteney :-)

globalbabble said...

Hi Swati,

Dunno - Other than the fact that Portuguese made an appearance in both regions, though only a fleeting one in India, I can't see it.

But Tortillas did act as my default chappati until I found wholemeal pita bread!

Tony Destroni said...

Swati said : "s there a connection between Latino and Indian roots" - well this is the one bugles me most they have some similarities in their appearance don you think ? in connection to this maybe their in the rank in paginas amarilla maybe i can ask about this things

globalbabble said...

Hey Tony,

No idea. But if you do find out, do let me know too...