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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 30)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Residence Los Angeles, California, United States
Alma mater University of Mumbai
Occupation Actress, model, presenter
Years active 2005–present
Religion Catholicism

Freida Selena Pinto (born 18 October 1984)[1] is an Indian actress and model. Born in Mumbai, she aspired towards acting from a young age, taking part in amateur plays at the St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. After graduation, she worked as a model for four years, and worked briefly as a television presenter. Later, she enrolled in an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai.

Pinto rose to prominence as the leading lady in the 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire, her cinematic début. Her performance was well received from critics and she won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She was nominated for various awards at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), MTV Movie Awards, and Teen Choice Awards. Since then, she has starred 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), in which she played the titular character.

Despite being criticised by the Indian media for not acting in Indian films, Pinto is credited with breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films. Alongside her acting career, she is a part of the Agassi Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that provides education for deprived children. Her humanitarian causes include duties as a global ambassador of Because I Am a Girl, a campaign aimed at promoting gender equality.

Early life and background[edit]

Pinto was born into a Mangalorean Catholic household in Mumbai.[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] Pinto has an elder sister, Sharon, who works as an associate producer for NDTV.[6] Pinto aspired to become an actress when she was five years old.[7] She studied at the Carmel of St. Joseph School in Malad, Mumbai, where she played sports and performed in the school choir. She recalled being inspired by Sushmita Sen's 1994 crowning as Miss Universe.[8][9] In 2005, she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in English literature and minors in Psychology and Economics, for which she had studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai.[7][10]

Pinto participated in plays and amateur theatre during college.[9] Upon graduation, she joined Elite Model Management, with whom she worked as a model for two-and-half years.[7] She was featured in several television and print advertisements endorsing products such as Wrigley's Chewing Gum, Škoda, Vodafone India, Airtel, Visa, eBay, and DeBeers.[5] She continued modelling for four years and appeared in runway shows and magazines; such as appearing on the covers of Femina and FNL.[5][6] In a 2015 interview with Daily Mirror, she said that she aspired to become a barmaid, calling it her "dream job". However she ended up as an entertainer at children's birthday parties on the insistence of her mother, who deemed it more "respectable" than a barmaid.[11] Between 2006 and 2008, Pinto anchored Full Circle, an international travel show which was aired on Zee International Asia Pacific.[12] As a part of the show, she visited many countries; Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand—thus exploring different cultures and traditions.[5][12] She studied acting at a studio run by Barry John.[13][14]

Starting from 2006, Pinto auditioned for numerous cinematic roles, including the part of Camille Montes in Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008). However, her attempts were unsuccessful.[12] In a later interview, when questioned about her 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".[15]

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 received a call from Danny Boyle to audition for the female lead in his then-upcoming film Slumdog Millionaire, which was planned to be filmed in India.[10] Pinto played Latika, the love interest of the lead character Jamal, played by Dev Patel.[16][17] Slumdog Millionaire turned out to be a sleeper hit, receiving universal acclaim mainly for its plot and soundtrack.[5] The film premièred at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, winning the Cadillac People's Choice Award.[18] It emerged as the most successful film at the 81st Academy Awards (2009) winning eight of the ten nominations, including major categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.[5] Further, the film gained nominations at various award ceremonies including the Golden Globe Awards (2009), where it won four awards.[19] Pinto herself was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Awards (2009).[20] In addition, 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, alongside other cast members from the film.[21][22][23] The film was instrumental in launching Pinto's career in Hollywood.[17][24]

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.

Pinto played a supporting role in Woody Allen's comedy-drama You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,[25] co-starring Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher, and Naomi Watts.[26] The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and received negative reviews upon release.[27] She played the central character in her next venture Miral, a biographical film based on the namesake novel by Rula Jebreal. In the film, set in the backdrop of war-ridden Jerusalem, she played an orphaned Palestinian woman who grows up in the refugee camp.[28] The film opened to negative reviews, although Pinto's performance received a positive response from critics.[29][30] A review from 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",[31] while Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote "Miral herself is played very engagingly by Freida Pinto as a mischievous and idealistic teenager with an acute sense of natural justice".[32]


Pinto's next release was the science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series.[33] She played Caroline Aranha, a primatologist,[34] and was cast opposite James Franco.[28] To prepare for her role, she watched the videos of the English anthropologist Jane Goodall.[35] The film was commercially successful,[36] however the performances of the lead actors were criticised.[37] A review from Slant Magazine stated that the lead characters—played by Franco and Pinto—are "stand-ins for moral platitudes" while Sarah Deen of Metro called Pinto's character "tad one-dimensional".[38][39] Pinto's second release of 2011 was Michael Winterbottom's British drama film Trishna, in which she played the titular character. As an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Trishna first premièred at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Described by The Guardian as a "seductive, allegorical study of male-female relationships",[40] the film features Pinto as the daughter of a peasant who falls in love with a London-based hotelier, played by Riz Ahmed.[41] Unlike some of Pinto's previous films, Trishna gained positive response from critics.[42] The film was universally acclaimed and was nominated for the Best Film Award at the 55th BFI London Film Festival and Grand Prix at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival.[43][44] The same year, she played Princess Lailah in the 1930s-set period drama film Day of the Falcon,[a] in which she was cast alongside Banderas and Mark Strong.[45] Pinto's final release of 2011 was the fantasy-action film Immortals, in which she played the oracle priestess Phaedra.[46] According to her, the film's extensive usage of CGI enabled her to prepare for her role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.[b]

In September 2013, Pinto appeared in the music video for Bruno Mars' single "Gorilla". She was criticised by the Indian media for a sequence which involved her shedding her clothes and becoming physically intimate with Mars.[47] However, James Montgomery of MTV described the act as "one gloriously cinematic scene" and further thanked Pinto's "wattage".[48] The same year, she provided voice-over for the documentary film Girl Rising, for the namesake campaign. The film showcases the power of education in transforming girls' lives around the world.[49] Pinto's solitary release of 2014 was the biographical drama Desert Dancer. The film revolves around the life of Iranian choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian.[50] She underwent rigorous dance training consisting of eight hours of rehearsals a day lasting for 14 weeks, as demanded by the role.[51] Her next film, Knight of Cups, in which she acted alongside Christian Bale, was screened in the competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015.[52][53] The film is scheduled to release in March 2016 in the United States.[54] Pinto ended 2015 as one of the narrators of Unity, a documentary that explores the relationships between Earth's species.[55]

As of September 2015, Pinto is working on Andy Serkis' Jungle Book: Origins, a live action adventure fantasy film based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.[56] Another film, Blunt Force Trauma, in which she acts alongside Mickey Rourke, is awaiting release.[57]

Personal life[edit]

Before making her film début, Pinto was engaged to her former publicist Rohan Antao. After ending the relationship with him in January 2009,[58] she dated her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Patel who is six years her junior.[59] The couple lived together in Los Angeles, United States.[60] In a later interview, Pinto stated that she does not want to act with Patel again as she feels that they will not be able to present the "chemistry" they had in their début film.[61] After being in a relationship for almost six years, the couple separated in December 2014.[62]

Pinto joined Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in support of their philanthropic organisation, known as the "Agassi Foundation". She is the only Indian actress to have participated in their annual fund raiser titled "The 15th Grand Slam for Children" which was aimed at providing education for the underprivileged children.[63] In 2012, 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. 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.[64] 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.[65] The following year, she extended her support by voicing opinion against the Indian government's ban on India's Daughter, Leslee Udwin's documentary on the 2012 Delhi gang rape.[66]

Media image[edit]

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

Soon after the release of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto gained widespread popularity and was frequently included in magazine lists of the "Most Beautiful Women in the World".[67][68] In 2009, she was featured in People magazine's "Most Beautiful People List",[69] and "List of World's Best Dressed Women".[70] That year, The Daily Telegraph reported Pinto as the highest-paid Indian actress, although she had not appeared in a Bollywood film.[71] She was also included in Vogue's 2009 list of the "top ten most stylish women".[72] On 13 May 2009, Pinto became the first Asian "spokeswoman" for L'Oréal.[73] A controversy arose when she appeared in a TV commercial promoting a L'Oreal product; it showed Pinto in what many perceived to be a lighter skin tone due to make-up or editing.[74][75]

In 2011, Pinto was included as the only Indian celebrity among the "50 Most Beautiful Women in Film", a list complied by Los Angeles Times Magazine.[76] The following year, People named her one of the "Most Beautiful at Every Age".[77] She was featured in the "Top 99 Most Desirable Women" poll conducted by AskMen, for the third consecutive time in 2012.[78][79][80]

As an Indian woman, Pinto is credited with breaking stereotypes of a leading lady in Hollywood.[28][81] In a 2012 interview with Hindustan Times, she told she is conscious of choosing roles that depict stereotypes.[82] However, the Indian media criticised her for having "shunned" the Indian film industry.[83] In response, Pinto claimed that she is unable to find roles that suit her in Bollywood while stating that she enjoys watching Bollywood films and is keen to work in the industry in future.[84]



  • The list is arranged in the chronological order of initial release of films.
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
Central Ohio Film Critics Association – Best Ensemble[85]
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role[86]
Nominated—Black Reel Awards of 2008 – Best Ensemble[86]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance[86]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[86]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Actress: Drama[87]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Fresh Face: Female[87]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie: Liplock (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[87]
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 Voiceover
Animated film
2017 Jungle Book: Origins Andy Serkis 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
2015 The Mindy Project[88] Herself Hulu


  1. ^ a b Day of the Falcon is also known as Black Gold and Or noir.
  2. ^ Immortals was in the making before Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, the latter was released first.[24]


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External links[edit]