Pinto rises from `Slumdog` to glam queen at fest

Updated: Sep 18, 2010, 19:06 PM IST

Toronto: Freida Pinto thought dealing with reporters and photographers at big movie premieres would be a breeze after her experience on her first red carpet two years ago at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"I`m gonna tell you, there was not a single soul on the red carpet for `Slumdog Millionaire`. Not a single soul. Just a photographer and one person doing the interview," said Pinto, who came to the festival an unknown and left a rising star after the movie shot from obscurity to win the festival`s audience award for favourite film on its way to Academy Awards triumph and box-office success.

"I was extremely nervous here about facing a million people for the first time, so I was like, oh, red carpets are easy. But things have changed dramatically since that time," Pinto said in an interview during her first return to the festival, where she has two movies playing, Woody Allen`s "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and Julian Schnabel`s ‘Miral’.

This time, photographers were awaiting her arrival at the Toronto airport, and she has been one of the festival`s main glamour girls alongside boyfriend Dev Patel, her ‘Slumdog’ co-star.

Pinto, 25, was raised in Mumbai and worked as a model and a TV travel show host before making her screen debut in ‘Slumdog.’

She has been working almost non-stop since, co-starring in the upcoming Greek mythology action tale ‘Immortals’ and a ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel, ‘Rise of the Apes.’ In December, she begins filming the Middle East oil drama ‘Black Thirst.’

Pinto has the title role in ‘Miral,’ due in theatres this December, playing a Palestinian teen coming of age in war-torn East Jerusalem.

In ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,’ which opens next Wednesday, Allen cast Pinto as a new neighbour to a conflicted writer (Josh Brolin) in a stale marriage with an art gallery assistant (Naomi Watts).

"We wanted somebody that he looked out the window at who was an obscure object of desire. We figured, who could it be? He`s married to Naomi Watts, who is so beautiful and such a wonderful actress. What could lure a guy from Naomi Watts? Nothing really," Allen said.

Then someone suggested Pinto, whom he had seen in ‘Slumdog.’ Allen said he snapped his fingers, set up a meeting and quickly hired her. He kept her in wide shots through her early scenes so the audience only saw her from a distance until she sits down in a restaurant opposite Brolin.

"You see that face close up over the table, and that face is pulverising. She`s so beautiful," Allen said.

Pinto, whose father is a retired bank officer and mother is a school principal, said she decided at a young age that she wanted to act.

Bureau Report