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