"I come from a completely non-filmy background, being born to Mangalorean parents in Mumbai. The only connection I had with the entertainment industry was my sister, who works as a producer in NDTV," says Freida while talking about her background. "But I did have dreams of making a career in acting which is why I used to participate in all dramatics events in my college (St Xavier's in Mumbai) In fact, I even started walking the ramp and modeling for different brands after graduating I wanted a toehold in the entertainment industry," says Freida while walking down the memory lane.
Freida took up modeling quite seriously and before she could bat an eyelid, she landed up with prestigious assignments for big brands like Wrigleys, Skoda, India Today, De Beers, Hutch, Airtel and Visa. "Though I was getting lot of good modeling assignments and doing quite well, I was not completely satisfied since I wanted to make a mark in acting," says the mode-turned actress who started doing rounds of production houses and participating in various auditions in search of a break.
"As part of one such routine audition process, I got a call from Loveleen Tandon, the casting director of Slumdog Millionaire. Initially I could not believe that they were actually calling me to audition for a Danny Boyle film, but as they say truth is stranger than fiction," says Freida while recollecting fond memories of her audition. The entire process went on for close to six months. "Since I had no training in acting, neither had I acted in any other film, I was confident of not getting selected! In fact, the audition process itself was a big learning for me. It was nothing short of an acting course," says Freida who was pleasantly surprised at getting selected for the role.
Once she was selected, there was no looking back for the Mumbai girl. It was a dream run for her, though it involved a lot of hard work. Freida shot for the film in her hometown Mumbai, though later on she toured the entire world to receive various awards and accolades. "I think I have lived through all my dreams in the four months that I worked in the film. A newbie like me could not have expected anything else. Working with Danny Boyle, the director, was a fantastic experience. There is so much to learn from him and he did teach me a lot" says Freida. "The entire cast and crew of the film worked very well as a team. I developed a very good rapport with Dev Patel, my co-star in the film. Since he was new to Mumbai, being an NRI, I used to show him different places in the city and have great fun," says the 24-year old model turned actress who has become an international celebrity now.
The film, apart from the accolades, has also received some brickbats for showcasing the tried and tested poverty theme from India. Freida, expectedly rubbishes all that and has been quoted as saying, "This is one of the most honest films made about my city. There is not an iota of imagination in the movie." The realistic movie, based on a reality show has since won a number of awards across the globe, including four Golden Globe awards for best film—drama, best director and music. Slumdog Millionaire has also won awards at the Toronto Film Festival, Austin Film Festival and British Independent Awards. No mean achievement that!
Needless to say, Freida is on Cloud Nine after all these accolades. But to her credit, she has not lost touch with the ground level realities. "I am just starting my career and need to be very careful about every step I take. With so many awards for the film, expectations from me have definitely skyrocketed. I have to be very choosy about the roles I take up in my future projects," says the actress.
Would she be doing Hindi films? "I am not sure whether I will be able to do the typical Hindi potboiler or not, but I would definitely like to do Hindi films. However, right now I would prefer working on some Hollywood projects," explains the actress who has already hired agents in India and the US to hunt for the right project for her.
Her career till now has been made up of stuff that few would even dare to dream of. Her looks are something that any average model in Mumbai can boast of. And her lineage is something that does not automatically catapult one to stardom. Yet Freida Pinto is a star today. And a big international one, having walked the red carpet at almost all the big film festivals that matter, thanks to her first film Slumdog Millionaire.