In Session: 2Blue Interviews Freida Pinto
There was an unmistakable genuineness about her smile when she opened the door to welcome me to the Christmas party that the Pinto sisters were hosting. As I tried to reciprocate the warmth, I hoped that my smile looked more relaxed than it felt. Truth be told, I could barely make eye contact. But by the end of this half-hour long interview, the eye-contact was long and intense, out of sheer gratitude and respect. Here’s exactly how it went down on the night of December 25, 2013 at the new Pinto residence in Orlem, Mumbai.
Every artiste worth his or her salt finds strength in struggle. Now that the hardships have gone out of the window for you, where do you draw inspiration from?
First of all, it’s not the end of the struggle. A different kind of struggle took over the day Slumdog Millionaire became a huge success. That’s when I was tested if I was really worth all the accolades and appreciation. Honestly, I don’t believe in achieving anything without struggle. It’s what makes you value what you gain (or lose) a lot more. Even the most established actors, who can ‘green light’ any role, deal with struggle. Working on the character, the dialect… there’s constant struggle. And that is a good thing as long as it’s a learning experience. So I still continue to find inspiration in struggle.
Artistes deal with more rejection than most people have to. How did you cope with it before Slumdog Millionaire?
Rejection happens because of various reasons. Either you are not right for the job, or someone can’t really see how you can be… because the person doesn’t have that stretch of imagination. Earlier, not understanding it made it very hard to cope with it. Now that I know the rules of the game, I understand it a lot better. And so, I don’t take rejection as harshly as I used to before.
The success of Slumdog brought with it several changes, relocation being one. How do you bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle for your precious few?
I keep my inner circle as tight and small as possible. I’m very private in that sense. Fortunately, the circle comprises friends who like to travel. I’m not a big fan of technology. So I don’t use it to ‘bridge the gap’. When I miss my family, I just fly home… which is at least two to three times a year. And mom’s home-made food gives me enough good memories to last a while.
You have a film lined up with Christian Bale. Now isn’t that something?! Tell us more.
It’s called Knight of Cups. It’s directed by Terrence Malick, and is scheduled for release in 2014. Honestly, it’s going to be a big surprise for all of us actors. We have finished shooting it. But we still don’t know what the film is all about. That’s the exciting part of my job. I get to work with some of the legends from the industry, who don’t tell the actors what the film is about.
Is there a Bollywood project in the offing?
Nothing as of right now, but I sure am interested in doing films like Mirch Masala, Arth, and Nishant. As you may know, these films featured Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil amongst other amazing actors. I have learned so much from them. Not to say that I don’t love comedy. Films like Khosla Ka Ghosla have also been very intriguing for me. But I haven’t really thought of doing hardcore commercial films as a career option.
On the Bruno Mars video, favourite musicians and more on the next page.
Veteran singer Nandu Bhende recently posted an update on social media saying you were at InSync Studios, Mumbai. Tell us more.
I was dubbing for a documentary film called Girl Rising. It’s a Vulcan Productions film directed by Richard E. Robbins. It’s got stories about nine girls from nine countries, and the hardships that they go through just to attain basic education… just to be able to read and write for themselves. It’s a positive film with a very heart-warming message. I think it’s very relevant to our time.
Did you ever want to pursue singing professionally? We hear you were quite the star in your school choir.
I was also the choir instructor… kind of like the music teacher for the kids. But I never really thought about taking up music professionally. I’d love to do a musical one day. Then again, I don’t practice as much as I used to. Back then, I used to sing practically everyday… because if I had to train the kids, I had to train myself first. I also played the keyboard and used it to devise harmonies. It sure was a lot of fun.
From your Twitter profile, we gathered you like Pink. What other artistes can we find in your iPod?
All kinds of artistes. I love Daft Punk, Moby, Sia, Zero 7… a lot of hip hop…
Yes, of course. But my rock may not be your kind of rock. For example, I like Lenny Kravitz, U2, Sting… oh wait, I just love Coldplay and Pink Floyd… for their music of course, and also for their live shows. That probably comes from the fact that I love visuals. I find that very intriguing.
You were backstage at a concert recently in the United States with your sister Sharon. Tell us more.
Oh, that was brilliant! John Mayer performed, as did Alicia Keys and Janelle Monae. Janelle was phenomenal! We also met… hold your breath… Bono backstage! He did not perform though. Still a great memory.
The Bruno Mars Gorilla video burnt countless television and computer screens around the world. How did that come about?
It was all Bruno’s idea. The music video was his way of coming out of his comfort zone. His earlier videos had been very ‘tame’. As easy as it would have been to get a sports-illustrated model, they chose to cast a girl who hadn’t been seen in this light before. So, the sweet girl with the scarf in her hair from Slumdog Millionaire seemed like the perfect fit. I thought the idea was great. I love Bruno’s music. And I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with someone who loves collaborating. Bruno is a massive collaborator. It’s not all about him or his work. However, my main concern was that I’m also a spokesperson for women’s rights and empowerment. So, the first thing I had to do is separate the fact that I’m an artiste who needs to embody any role that’s thrown her way. The second thing I had to do is make it clear to Bruno that I did not want to be ‘objectified’. Bruno said that was his vision too. He wanted the girl to be just as empowered as the guy in the video. Also, in the way they filmed the video, it was very respectful. That speaks very highly of the kind of man Bruno is.
What were your preparatory steps like?
I’m absolutely OCD about my work. I believe it’s very important to give your 100% to any project, big or small. So I just decided to get back into my fitness regime. Honestly, it wasn't just preparation for the video. It was also my way of taking a break from the richness of food to get back to the simplicity of life.
During the making of the video, were there any moments that you would like to talk about?
We had a lot of fun. Bruno’s band features in the video (he has his brother on drums). They would get into impromptu performances during the shoot all the time. Like someone would say “Sugar!” And they’d immediately break into a jam like “Sugar Sugar…” with everybody joining in on vocals, drums, and everything in between. That was so completely different from my world. I don’t get to see that everyday. So for me, that was really special.
How did your friends and family react?
Sharon (my sister) always has feedback, and I love that about her. She always pushes me hard to give my best in everything I do. So she had a lot to say. My cousins in Canada (all boys) congratulated me but said they did not (actually, the words they used were “could not”) watch it. My friends loved it. I hadn't told anybody because I thought it would be a great surprise. Several of them said they almost didn’t recognize me and so were very pleasantly surprised when they eventually did. So it’s quite interesting how a change in look – different hair, different make up, different costume (or the lack of it) – can help.
Read highlights of 2014 on the next page.
What can we expect from you in 2014?
I have two film releases lined up. The first is Knight of Cups… the one featuring Christian Bale… the one we already spoke about. The second is Desert Dancer, a film featuring young but really talented actors… Tom Cullen, Reece Ritchie, Marama Corlett, and Nazanin Boniadi. It’s director Richard Raymond’s first film. So there’s a lot that he’s banking on.
What are your plans for NYE? What party locations would you recommend to our readers from your part of the world?
I’m not an NYE party person. Last year, I was home watching TV just like the year before that. This year, I’ll be in London. Just a couple of friends and some wine.
Your work for the emancipation of the girl child has been truly exemplary. What’s your message to our readers?
I work with the NGO, Plan International. They are fabulously hard working people, which is why I love working with them. I just feel if you are in a position where people listen to you, you should reach out to them to make a difference. A small donation doesn't hurt. But don’t do so blindly without knowing where your money is going. Even $100 can provide a girl with education for a whole year in a place like Burkina Faso. So make a donation to something that’s credible. It’s important to find what speaks to you the most. I’ll use my mom as an example. She had been a teacher and headmistress before she retired. Now she is using her skills to help children with learning disabilities. So I find it important to use talents and skills not just for one’s own self, but also for others who can benefit from it.
I was at midnight mass at Orlem church yesterday (technically today), and I saw so many people. I felt, if in this one moment, they presented one inspirational real-life story about a girl, and moved even just five people to action, that would have been a much more meaningful mass to me. After all, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Picture credit - rediff.com, lipstickalley.com
Article written by 2Blue
2Blue (a.k.a Tirthankar Poddar) forayed into the Mumbai rock circuit in 2000. Having gained notoriety for his powerful high-pitched singing and on-stage charisma, he was soon invited to sing for Vayu. After 5 years in Vayu and countless monumental shows, 2Blue formed the hard rock band Zedde (pronounced z?d). Always a man for his heroes, the self-taught singer attributes his vocal prowess to his childhood heroes: David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, and Bruce Dickinson. For him, if a thing was good once, it always is.