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