on films, fall­ing in love and fem­i­nism ‘Women in In­dia can’t be ig­nored any more’

Friday - - FRONT PAGE - By Lex Martin

AA bright smile is in place, as is the dark glossy hair. A pair of strappy stilet­tos add power to her fem­i­nin­ity while the all-black trouser suit is se­vere yet el­e­gant as Freida Pinto walks the red car­pet lined by pa­parazzi in Baruch Col­lege at the City Uni­ver­sity in New York.

Hol­ly­wood’s ar­guably most stunning actress is not at a com­mer­cial movie event, but has stepped up to speak at the US pre­miere of Leslee Ud­win’s con­tro­ver­sial doc­u­men­tary In­dia’s daugh­ter , a film at the epi­cen­tre of an in­tense de­bate on sex­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion in In­dia. The film, based on the 2012 gang rape and mur­der of 23-year-old med­i­cal stu­dent, Jy­oti Singh, in New Delhi, trig­gered na­tion­wide protests and has been banned in In­dia. Shar­ing the stage with leg­endary ac­tor Meryl Streep, Freida steps up to the mi­cro­phone and as an­other daugh­ter of In­dia, speaks from the heart.

‘De­spite the vast im­prove­ments in the lives and rights of women across the world… I be­lieve our pride is mis­placed when there is one gen­der on this planet that is yet to be eman­ci­pated,’ says the 30-year-old who shot to fame with Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire . Her lat­est movie Knight of Cups, which also stars Chris­tian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Port­man, will be re­leased later this year.

‘There has to be some­thing done about the sit­u­a­tion of women in In­dia – we can’t ig­nore it or think that it’s some­thing that will take care of it­self. Women them­selves have come for­ward to make the point very strongly that they want to take con­trol of their fu­ture.’ Freida knows that ed­u­ca­tion is the key. ‘But it’s very tricky be­cause ed­u­ca­tion is not a short-term grat­i­fi­ca­tion. It’s a longterm plan. And it takes a min­i­mum of 12-15 years for any­body to see the full ef­fect of ed­u­ca­tion on so­ci­ety.

‘But we have to have pa­tience, [it] is very im­por­tant, and lis­ten to women who are say­ing: “This is what we want.” They are say­ing it loudly and they can­not be ig­nored any­more.’

Freida and Meryl are global am­bas­sadors of Plan In­ter­na­tional’s ‘Be­cause I am A Girl’ cam­paign, which joined hands with Vi­tal Voices Global Part­ner­ship, an or­gan­i­sa­tion

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