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Freida Pinto

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Freida Pinto
Freida Pinto is sitting with her legs crossed and looking towards her left
Pinto in 2014
Born Freida Selena Pinto
(1984-10-18) 18 October 1984 (age 31)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Mumbai
  • Actress
  • model
  • presenter
Years active 2005–present
Religion Catholicism

Freida Selena Pinto (born 18 October 1984) is an Indian actress who has appeared mainly in American and British films. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and decided to become an actress at a young age. As a student at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, she took part in amateur plays. After graduation, she briefly worked as a model and then as a television presenter.

Pinto rose to prominence through the 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire, her first appearance in a film. Her performance was well received by critics, and she won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She was also nominated for various awards at the British Academy Film Awards, MTV Movie Awards, and Teen Choice Awards. Pinto has subsequently appeared in a number of British and American productions including You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Immortals (2011), and Trishna (2011).

Although the Indian media credited Pinto with breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films, it criticised her for not acting in Indian films. In addition to her acting career, she engages in philanthropic activities and promotes humanitarian causes that include her duties as a global ambassador of the Because I Am a Girl campaign.

Early life and background[edit]

Pinto was born on 18 October 1984 in Bombay (now Mumbai),[1] into a family from the Mangalorean Catholic community that originates in the former Portuguese colony of Goa.[2][3][4] Her mother, Sylvia, was the principal of St. John's Universal School in Goregaon, Mumbai, and her father, Frederick, was a senior branch manager for the Bank of Baroda.[5] Her elder sister, Sharon, works as an associate producer for NDTV.[5] Pinto had a middle class upbringing in the suburb of Malad.[6][7] She first wanted to be an actress when she was five years old;[8][9] she dressed up at home and imitated television actors.[8][10] Pinto studied at the Carmel of St. Joseph School, Malad.[11] In a 2010 interview, she recalled being inspired by Sushmita Sen's victory in the 1994 Miss Universe competition.[12] She studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her major was in English literature, with minors in psychology and economics.[10][13] She participated in plays and amateur theatre during her time at college.[14]

In 2005, Pinto began her career as a model and joined Elite Model Management,[1] with whom she worked for two and a half years.[10] As a part of her modeling assignments, she featured in several television and print advertisements for products such as Wrigley's Chewing Gum, Škoda, Vodafone India, Airtel, Visa, eBay, and De Beers.[15] Her initial efforts to become a television presenter did not materialise as she was rejected for being "too thin".[9] However, she managed to land herself as a host of Full Circle, an international travel show that aired on Zee International Asia Pacific between 2006 and 2008.[9] This took her to several countries, including Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.[14]

Starting in 2006, Pinto auditioned unsuccessfully for numerous cinematic roles, including the part of Camille Montes in Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008).[14] In a later interview, when questioned about these rejections, she said that she was "glad things happened the way they happened. I needed to be rejected, and I needed to learn that it's part of the game... I can have 100 rejections, but I'm sure there's going to be one particular thing that is almost destined for me to have."[16]

Acting career[edit]

Beginnings and breakthrough (2008–10)[edit]

Pinto with the crew of Slumdog Millionaire
Pinto with the crew of Slumdog Millionaire during its screening at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

In 2007, Pinto was shortlisted by the Elite Model Management as one among the seven models to audition for the female lead in Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The photographs of the shortlisted models from the agency were sent to Loveleen Tandan, the casting-director of the film.[1] After undergoing six months of extensive auditions, Pinto landed the lead role when Boyle directly selected her. She was cast as Latika, the love interest of the lead character Jamal, played by Dev Patel.[17] During the post-production phase, she attended an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai.[5] Acclaimed particularly for its plot and soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire emerged as a sleeper hit;[18][19] made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed $377.9 million worldwide.[20] The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Cadillac People's Choice Award.[21] It was then the most successful film at the 81st Academy Awards (2009): it was nominated for ten awards, of which it won eight, including the awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.[22] At the Golden Globe Awards (2009), it won four awards.[23] Pinto herself was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Awards (2009).[24] She won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, along with other cast members from the film.[25][26]

Freida Pinto and Rula Jebreal
Pinto (left) and Rula Jebreal (right) attend the screening of Miral at 18th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2010.

Slumdog Millionaire helped launch Pinto's career in Hollywood.[27] As a result, she moved to London, a year after the film's release.[28] Her next film appearance was in a supporting role in Woody Allen's comedy-drama You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,[29] where she appeared alongside Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher and Naomi Watts.[30] Premiering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, the film received negative reviews upon release.[31] She then starred in Miral, a biographical film based on the novel of the same name by Rula Jebreal. In the film, set in the backdrop of war-ridden Jerusalem, she played an orphaned Palestinian woman who grew up in a refugee camp.[32] The film received negative reviews, and Pinto received mixed reviews for her performance:[33] a review in the Los Angeles Times noted that "although she doesn't share Miral's background, Pinto found her own way of relating to the character's situation".[34] Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote, "Miral herself is played very engagingly by Freida Pinto",[35] while Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian reported "she [Pinto] looks uneasy and miscast as Miral herself."[36]


Pinto's next film role was in the 2011 science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series.[37] She played Caroline Aranha, a primatologist,[38] and was cast opposite James Franco.[32] To prepare for her role, she watched the videos of the English anthropologist Jane Goodall.[39] The film was commercially successful, grossing US$453 million worldwide.[40][41] Though Pinto's character in the film was a significant one, it was criticised for being "practically non-existent" as the writing did not offer much scope for it.[42][43] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described the character played by Pinto as "boringly decorous tag-along girlfriend seen onscreen in years."[44] Pinto's second appearance of 2011 was in Trishna, a British drama film produced by Michael Winterbottom, in which she played the titular character. An adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. The film features Pinto as the daughter of a peasant who falls in love with a London-based hotelier, played by Riz Ahmed.[45] Trishna gained mixed response from critics.[46][47] The film was nominated for the Best Film Award at the 55th BFI London Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.[48][49] Philip French of The Guardian called the performances the lead actors as "dominating". Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised Pinto as "one of its [the film's] loveliest attractions", but criticised her and the director for not being able to give life to the "Trishna" character.[50][51]

The same year, Pinto played Princess Lailah in the poorly received Day of the Falcon,[a][52] a period drama set in the 1930s, where she was cast alongside Antonio Banderas and Mark Strong.[53] Andy Webster of The New York Times described the women characters (Pinto's and Liya Kebede's) as "refreshing" and praised their "independent presences amid the stiflingly male-dominated milieu".[54] Pinto's final appearance of 2011 was in the fantasy-action film Immortals, in which she played the oracle priestess Phaedra.[55] Despite receiving negative reviews from critics,[56] the film grossed $226.9 million at the box-office.[57]

In September 2013, Pinto appeared in the music video for Bruno Mars' single "Gorilla". She was criticised by the Indian media for a sequence that involved her shedding her clothes and becoming physically intimate with Mars;[58] Hindustan Times called the act "dirty dancing".[59] The same year, she provided the voice-over for the documentary film Girl Rising, on behalf of the campaign of the same name. The film demonstrated the power of education in transforming girls' lives around the world.[60] Pinto's only cinematic appearance of 2014 was in the biographical drama Desert Dancer. The film revolves around the life of Iranian choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian.[61] She played Elaheh, the love interest of the lead character played by Reece Ritchie.[62] The role required her to do dance training consisting of eight hours of rehearsals a day for 14 weeks.[63] Andy Webster of The New York Times noted "Pinto, even with an unfocused and underwritten role, is captivating".[62]

Pinto's first film of 2015 was the ensemble drama Knight of Cups.[64] The film was screened in the competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.[65][66] It received average to mixed reviews from critics.[67][68] The film is scheduled to be released in the United States in March 2016.[69] She was as one of the narrators of Unity (2015), a documentary that explores the relationships between Earth's species.[70] Her next film was the Colombian production Blunt Force Trauma, in which she co-starred with Mickey Rourke. She played a girl who looks after the man who killed her brother. The film premiered at the Woodstock and Montreal World Film Festivals in September 2015. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the film, stating that it "takes itself much more seriously than viewers will."[71][72] As of October 2015, Pinto is working on Andy Serkis' Jungle Book: Origins, a live action adventure fantasy film based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.[73]

Personal life[edit]

Before beginning her film career, Pinto was engaged to her former publicist Rohan Antao. She ended the relationship in January 2009,[74] and began dating her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Patel, who is six years her junior.[74] In 2012, Pinto stated that she does not want to act with Patel again as she feels that they would not be able to replicate the "chemistry" they had in their debut film.[75] After a six-year relationship, the couple separated amicably in December 2014.[76] After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto had "no fixed address", but instead split her time between Mumbai, London and Los Angeles.[74][77][78] In an interview with USA Today in 2015, she stated that she lives in Los Angeles.[79]

In 2010, Pinto joined Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in support of their philanthropic organisation, the "Agassi Foundation". She raised $75,000 for their annual fund raiser, "The 15th Grand Slam for Children", aimed at providing education for underprivileged children.[80][81] Two years later, she was appointed as the global ambassador of Plan International's Because I am a Girl, a campaign that promotes gender equality with the aim of lifting millions of girls out of poverty.[82] Following that, she appeared in a video clip for Gucci's "Chime for Change" campaign to raise funds and awareness of women's issues in terms of education, health, and justice in 2013.[83] In July 2014, she spoke at the "Girls' rights summit" in London, where she called for more progress toward the end of female genital mutilation and child marriage.[84] The following year, she spoke out against the Indian government's ban on India's Daughter, Leslee Udwin's documentary on the 2012 Delhi gang rape.[85] During its premier at the United States, she said the film needs to reach the public as it is not a "shame-India documentary".[86]

Media image[edit]

Freida Pinto is seen smiling at the camera.
Pinto (pictured in 2010) attending the 41st International Film Festival of India in Goa

From a relatively-unknown model, Pinto gained widespread popularity soon after the release of Slumdog Millionaire. Following the film's success, she was frequently included in beauty and fashion polls conducted by various magazines.[87][88] In 2009, she was featured in People magazine's annual lists—"World's Most Beautiful People" and "World's Best Dressed Women".[89][90] That year, she was also included in Vogue's list of the "top ten most stylish women".[91] In 2011, Pinto was included as the only Indian celebrity among the "50 Most Beautiful Women in Film", a list compiled by Los Angeles Times Magazine.[92] The following year, People named her one of the "Most Beautiful at Every Age".[93] She was featured in the "Top 99 Most Desirable Women" poll conducted by AskMen, consecutively from 2010 to 2012.[94][95][96]

In March 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported Pinto as the highest-paid Indian actress,[97] although she had not appeared in a Bollywood film to that point.[98] The same year, she was made a "spokesperson" for L'Oréal Paris.[99][100] Two years later, a controversy arose when she appeared in an advert promoting a L'Oreal product; it showed Pinto in what many perceived to be a lighter skin tone due to make-up or editing. The L'Oréal spokesperson, however, denied claims of retouching Pinto's picture.[101][102]

Pinto is credited by the Indian media with breaking the stereotypical image of Indian women playing leading roles in Hollywood.[32][103] In a 2012 interview with Hindustan Times, she said she consciously avoids roles that depict stereotypes.[104] The Indian media has criticised her for not working in the Indian film industry.[105] In response, Pinto claimed that she was unable to find roles that suited her in Bollywood, however, stating that she enjoyed watching Bollywood films and was keen to work in the industry in future.[106][107]


Upcoming series Denotes upcoming films
Year Title Director Role Notes
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle Latika Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Palm Springs International Film Festival – Breakthrough Performance Award
Nominated—Central Ohio Film Critics Association – Best Ensemble[108]
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role[109]
Nominated—Black Reel Awards of 2008 – Best Ensemble[109]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance[109]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[109]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Actress: Drama[110]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Fresh Face: Female[110]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie: Liplock (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[110]
2010 You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen Dia
2010 Miral Julian Schnabel Miral
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt Caroline Aranha
2011 Trishna Michael Winterbottom Trishna
2011 Day of the Falcon[a] Jean-Jacques Annaud Princess Leyla
2011 Immortals Tarsem Singh Phaedra
2013 Girl Rising Richard E. Robbins Narrator Documentary
2014 Desert Dancer Richard Raymond Elaheh
2015 Knight of Cups Terrence Malick Helen
2015 Unity Shaun Monson Narrator Documentary
2015 Blunt Force Trauma Ken Sanzel Colt
2015 Yamasong: March of the Hollows Sam Koji Hale Unknown Voiceover
Animated film
2017 Jungle Book: Origins Andy Serkis Unknown Filming

Music video appearances[edit]

Year Show Performer(s) Album
2013 "Gorilla" Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox


Year Show Role Channel
2006 Full Circle Host Zee International Asia Pacific[14]
2015 The Mindy Project Herself Hulu[112]


  1. ^ a b Day of the Falcon is also known as Black Gold and Or noir.


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