LIFE AF­TER SLUM­DOG

This stun­ning beauty uses her fame and suc­cess to voice her opin­ions and that’s what she does in her new minis­eries, Guerilla

Women's Weekly (Malaysia) - - Women's Weekly - Catch Guer­rilla on Ama­zon.com.

Freida Pinto on stand­ing her ground to make a dif­fer­ence

Freida Pinto has carved a name for her­self as a force to be reck­oned with in Hol­ly­wood. She proudly stands up for what she feels is right and is not afraid to voice her opin­ions on things that mat­ter to her.

A cam­paigner, fem­i­nist and sup­porter of hu­man rights causes, it’s no won­der Freida, who celebrates her 32nd birth­day this month, was drawn to team up with Idris Elba in the new TV minis­eries, Guerilla. Star­ring along­side Idris, Freida plays Jas Mi­tra, an ac­tivist in 1970s Lon­don, hell-bent on free­ing a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner by any means nec­es­sary.

The big-bud­get TV show is a re­turn to the lime­light for Freida who, since Slum­dog and her real-life re­la­tion­ship with co-star Dev Pa­tel (they have since parted ways), has mainly been con­cen­trat­ing on mean­ing­ful in­de­pen­dent projects in be­tween her cam­paign­ing.

Now based in LA, the star from Mum­bai talks about her Slum­dog days and what she’s pas­sion­ate about.

You took part in the the Women’s March. Why was the march im­por­tant to you?

To pro­tect those whose rights have been mas­sively threat­ened at this point in time. Women def­i­nitely come un­der that threat quite a lot, so whether it comes to iden­tity or pro­tect­ing women’s rights, I’m ab­so­lutely go­ing to be in the fore­front. I have not ex­pe­ri­enced a com­plete vi­o­la­tion of my rights, but other peo­ple are be­ing af­fected by it. I’m part of it, I am be­ing af­fected by it. If I don’t get in­volved di­rectly, sooner or later it’s go­ing to af­fect the en­tire race.

How did you re­late to Guerilla’s Jas Mi­tra? What were some parts of her that you felt were in you?

Well, the pas­sion for sure. I have al­ways been very out­spo­ken, and I am re­ally so happy that some­one like [ Guerilla di­rec­tor] John Ri­d­ley recog­nised my pas­sion in my first meet­ing with him. From the time I was lit­tle, I don't think there was ever a time where I never protested against some­thing that I didn’t feel was right. I say that there’s no space for neu­tral­ity in to­day’s world. You can’t be sit­ting on the fence.

By speaking out, have you or your career been af­fected?

If I can take it in the most con­struc­tive and pos­i­tive way, I think it’s mak­ing peo­ple take me more se­ri­ously, be­cause I’m not one who says

some­thing and doesn’t be­lieve it or stand by it. Much like Jas, I have my con­vic­tions. I will be hum­ble if there’s some­thing wrong that I’ve said or done; I hope I will have the courage to say, “I’m sorry, that was wrong.”

Guerilla was set in the ’70s. What did you know had taken place dur­ing that time?

This is a very in­ter­est­ing ques­tion. As soon as I learned about this TV show, the first thing I did was contact fam­ily mem­bers and friends who lived in Eng­land and who were of the age where they would know what ac­tu­ally hap­pened in 1971 Eng­land. You’d be sur­prised how lit­tle they knew about this move­ment. When I re­alised this is not go­ing to be enough, I im­me­di­ately asked John if there were books that I could read, if there were tran­scripts, ma­te­ri­als, movies, doc­u­men­taries, any­thing that I could do to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what was hap­pen­ing. There was very much a lack of in­for­ma­tion that ex­isted, which is why I’m even more ex­cited to be a part of this show, be­cause I fi­nally get to tell the un­told story, a story that needs to be told.

As it pro­gresses, Jas and Mar­cus’ mo­ti­va­tions change in the sense of what they hope to ac­com­plish – in terms of go­ing from reach­ing peo­ple to ex­press­ing rage, or do they think all the way through that they will ac­com­plish some­thing other than mak­ing their own feel­ings clear?

I be­lieve when­ever you make a de­ci­sion to do some­thing rad­i­cal or un­ex­pected, there are con­se­quences; and those con­se­quences lead you to ei­ther stand up with con­vic­tion with what you’ve done and be­lieve in it and then con­tinue on that path, which means there will be fur­ther con­se­quences. Or you just back out and say, “I made a mis­take, and I’m sorry. I sur­ren­der. I give in.”

But Jas and Mar­cus are not that sort of peo­ple. They stand up very firmly for what they be­lieve in, which even­tu­ally takes them down a path where, in a way, they stop. Jas’ char­ac­ter finds her­self in a bit of a trap where, by the time I reach episode 5, I am very lost for words for what it is that Jas is do­ing. But she have a deep con­vic­tion that she needs to con­tinue do­ing this, come what may, which then leads to rage and vi­o­lence. This has been a big de­bate, whether rage and vi­o­lence is an ul­ti­mate con­se­quence of achiev­ing change.

Have you ever felt racism in your child­hood?

I’ve never re­ally faced any di­rect seg­re­ga­tion, but I do come from a very vast coun­try where dif­fer­ent parts of the pop­u­la­tion are still con­sid­ered a mi­nor­ity within the coun­try.

I grew up in a mul­ti­cul­tural school where we had chil­dren com­ing from dif­fer­ent parts of In­dia. Peo­ple from north­east In­dia of­ten felt like they were treated like im­mi­grants, even though they were very much part of the same coun­try – that was some­thing I was re­ally aware of. And then later I see that this takes place even in Amer­ica, in Eng­land, and other parts of the world, where you can you feel like you be­long, but at the same time, there are oth­ers that don’t feel the same.

I didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence racism per­son­ally but to me, the priv­i­lege of be­ing an ac­tor is ac­tu­ally to be able to tell th­ese sto­ries and sink your teeth into an­other per­son’s life and char­ac­ter, and step into their shoes, which I so en­joy.

How has Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire changed your life?

In many ways it ac­tu­ally gave my voice a plat­form. I have to say, my most in­spi­ra­tional mo­ment at the Golden Globes was to watch a woman [Meryl Streep] of true sub­stance, a woman of ele­gance and dig­nity, stand up on stage and use her in­flu­ence in the most re­spon­si­ble way pos­si­ble.

And you want to do that?

I’ve al­ways been do­ing that, but to see Meryl do that makes me want me to do it more, and I want to do it with the same grace and dig­nity she has dis­played.

How have you man­aged to stay grounded?

I’m re­ally, re­ally lucky to have a very grounded set of friends and I’ve never been a party girl. I don’t go to Hol­ly­wood par­ties just for the sake of go­ing to them. I go when I know I can re­ally en­joy my­self among good com­pany, and I have friends to cel­e­brate with.

What ad­vice would you give to your younger self?

None ac­tu­ally. I’m re­ally happy that she made all the mis­takes she did, and she went through what she did be­cause I wouldn’t be here if I was con­stantly told to do ev­ery­thing in a cer­tain way – be­cause that’s the “right” way. I needed to be left to have my own free will at times to make some mis­takes.

Mis­takes are im­por­tant as long as they’re not re­ally loud, pro­nounced mis­takes that peo­ple make and get away with. I’m re­ally glad for the mis­takes that I’ve made, and I’m glad that I’ve made them in a safe place where I could be taught and given the right ad­vice to grow.

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