FREIDA PINTO

It has been a whirl­wind three years for Freida Pinto, writes Michele Manelis

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

An un­likely jour­ney to­wards star­dom.

THREE years ago, Mum­bai-born beauty Freida Pinto was a model and the host of a rel­a­tively ob­scure tele­vi­sion travel show air­ing in Asian and Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries.

That all changed when the star of Rise of the Planet of the Apes landed her de­but film role in the sur­prise Os­car-win­ning hit of 2009, Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire.

Not only did she and her co-star Dev Pa­tel, 21, be­come overnight stars, they also be­came real-life lovers.

‘‘ Of course I be­lieve in fate,’’ the 26-year-old says.

‘‘ I feel that ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. Slum­dog changed my life in ev­ery way. I wouldn’t be here now talk­ing about Rise of the Planet of the Apes if not for that movie and I’m aware of the ef­fects of it still, ev­ery day.’’

From anonymity to pa­parazzi fod­der wasn’t an easy tran­si­tion for Pinto ( pic­tured with Apes co-star James Franco).

‘‘ Ini­tially it was dif­fi­cult. It was all very new and as much as the at­ten­tion felt good, the day af­ter the Os­cars it was a sud­den stop,’’ she says.

‘‘ Of course, there was also the neg­a­tiv­ity that fol­lows straight af­ter some­one has been pulled up and put on a pedestal. All of a sud­den, it wasn’t the same any more.

‘‘ I guess that was dif­fi­cult to deal with but [ it’s] some­thing that peo­ple in the limelight of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

In Man­hat­tan’s swanky Ritz Carl­ton ho­tel over­look­ing Cen­tral Park, Pinto is el­e­gantly dressed in a navy and black, slim­fit­ting, short

sleeved dress and Manolo Blah­nik heels. As a re­sult of her new­found celebrity sta­tus, she has come to be re­garded as an in­ter­na­tional style sym­bol and can of­ten be seen on fash­ion pages.

‘‘ This dress is de­signed by my friend, whose la­bel is called San­chita,’’ she says, smil­ing. ‘‘ I’m try­ing to help give her her mo­ment.’’

Pinto hasn’t stopped work­ing dur­ing the past two years.

She ap­peared in Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, then Mi­ral, in the ti­tle role as an Arab woman who sets up an or­phan­age in war-torn Is­rael.

In the up­com­ing fan­tasy drama Im­mor­tals she plays or­a­cle priest­ess Phae­dra.

‘‘ I’m liv­ing the life of a gypsy and I love it. I just have to learn how to pack light,’’ she laughs.

Her long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship with Pa­tel, a fel­low globetrotter since Slum­dog’s suc­cess, has been a chal­lenge for the cou­ple.

‘‘ We try to im­pose a rule where we’re never apart from each other for more than two weeks but due to our work sched­ules, it’s not al­ways pos­si­ble,’’ she says.

‘‘ We Skype and we’re on the phone a lot. Ul­ti­mately, we’ve made this de­ci­sion so we just have to deal with it.’’

Given that Hol­ly­wood ro­mances, es­pe­cially those that be­gin on a film set, don’t have a great track record, is she con­cerned?

‘‘ We think about it, we talk about it. Well, I talk about it all the time,’’ she says with an­other laugh.

‘‘ How­ever, I feel that I don’t nec­es­sar­ily be­lieve that ev­ery­body else’s story has to be my story.

‘‘ I think that it also helps that we didn’t start off as fa­mous, so I think that’s good for the nor­malcy of the sit­u­a­tion and to stay grounded.’’

For now, they are happy to con­tinue their re­la­tion­ship as it is and are mind­ful not to put any pres­sure on what may come.

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