All the divas coming from the same homeland are making it HUGE in Hollywood!
A lot of Bollywood divas are now making their way to Hollywood with Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone being the recent ones. Indian born actress Freida Pinto’s next big release is a Terrence Malick film Knight of Cups which has her opposite Christian Bale. The actress, who’s thrilled to have worked with both Bale and Mallick says shooting this project was a liberating experience. She also talks to me about why she won’t agree to play a stereotypical Indian brown girl or jump onto the TV bandwagon as yet. Here are excerpts from my conversation with her.....
How was it working with a director like Terrence Malick, who’s known to be unconventional?
For any actor who wants to work with him, I say, ‘Go for it’, it’s such a life-changing experience. The entire formula is flipped around. No dialogues are given to you the night before. There are certain pages for you to think about and reflect upon. Then you go on set and you enjoy the experience of just letting whatever is happening on that particular day, whatever you think that character might be influencing in that particular day and you just actually enjoy it. And the environment he creates for you. It is like experiencing the ‘everyday life’ kind of experience and I definitely had a lot of questions, especially because if you have seen the synopsis of the film, it is about this man who was lost in the world of Hollywood and film industry and glamour and he is searching for himself. It is a quest of life which he is on. It taught me so much, not necessarily for the film, but for life. So yes, it was kind of a spiritual experience. I hope when people watch the film they just have an open mind.
Did you have conversations about Batman with Christian Bale?
Sometimes, when you know that a certain actor has played such an iconic role, it is a little weird to bring this topic up or if he’s fed up of the fact that people call him Batman. So no, I did not really bring it up, but The Dark Knight Rises actually released the same time we were filming, so yes, he was going back and forth and I did not watch the film, while I was filming with Christian. It would have been actually impossible to not ask him questions then. So I waited for the entire shooting of Knight Of Cups to get done with and then I went and watched TDKR. I don’t know how he would want to view himself, but this is my view of him: he is so successful, he is so accomplished and yet at the same time when you see him on a film set, he does not have any airs about him. He basically travelled in the same van as all of us, as a regular technical crew and as the rest of the actors. We were all made to do that. This is what I really loved about Terrence Mallick... He was very patient with us and it didn’t feel like he was directing any of us; he was just helping us enjoy the film. He is a very down-to-earth person. KOC was a very democratic set. We all travelled to the set together as one family.
Both Priyanka and Deepika have signed on Hollywood films. What’s your advice to them?
It is so good, so important and so very timely in a way because everybody has been talking about representation and we have two of the country’s best actresses in international films. At the same time, it is also very important to acknowledge all the people who came before us, before me, before them, because they have all done their little bits and pieces to create avenues for us. It does not matter whether their roles have been big or small or they were in big franchise films or small independent films. I am so excited for this new wave because as much as people are pitting actors or actresses against each other — whatever it is — one thing we should not forget that as soon as we have more people in the global world, there will be more roles created for all of us. So the more people, the more roles! I am super excited about it.
What’s keeping you from signing a Bollywood film?
My answer has always been the same and it has never been that I don’t want to do Bollywood or I don’t want to do regional language film. For me, that conversation is so redundant. In the past eight years, I have said so clearly that I want to be a part of films that have beautiful character-driven stories and at the end of the day, have sincere enough storytelling and if that story happens to be from India, why would I say no? I would absolutely be up for it. It may not necessarily be a big budget film, but I do actually meet people and talk about what they are working on and if they are interested in me, I absolutely take that meeting. In fact, I am producing a film and I do hope that some of my films are made in Indian languages and can be enjoyed and consumed by global audiences. That is the sign of truly successful storytelling. I am very excited I am producing films like that. And I hope it will be consumed by the world.
Priyanka has made a successful crossover in American television with Quantico. Do you see yourself doing TV?
Television is something that I have been looking at, over the last four years, actually. But I’ve been keeping busy and it is actually hard to do films when you’re doing television. I have been busy with my film projects and TV requires a proper time commitment. I always feel when the right project comes my way, no matter what the time commitment, I’ll do it. If the story clicks, there are no two ways about it. You, then, pretty much move any mountain to make that work. I am actually very excited for the work that I am doing because one of them I might be co-producing, I might also explore a television angle.
Are you getting characters that are ethnically ambiguous? Are you still getting the typical ‘brown girl doing the Indian dance’ roles?
Do you think I will be given characters of typical Indian girls and dance? I don’t think so. I don’t think there has been anything apart from Slumdog Millionare, where I have danced as an Indian actor or a brown girl.
Right, but you still get approached for it? Do people still come to you with that mindset?
Not really. To be really honest, I feel after a point, these people stop sending you such projects. I feel it is becoming more and more apparent to everybody to stop writing stereotypical roles, I am sorry, but people from India are not going to play those stereotypical roles. So I think it is becoming more and more clear to the makers of those character-driven roles as well.
Is it true that you are dating polo player Ronnie Bacardi?
I don’t know. I have nothing to say to that one.
Any plans to come visit Mumbai?
I have to come in a few weeks for my cousin’s wedding. All I have been thinking of over the last couple of days, is India.
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