Beyond ethnicity

Freida Pinto holds actors should be given roles irrespective of their nationalities

Ians April 15, 2016
Pinto has to her credit modelling and acting, both on stage and TV. PHOTO: FILE


Gone are the days when actors from different nationalities were restricted to play roles based on their ethnicity. US-based Indian actor Freida Pinto feels nobody is tagged as an ‘American’, ‘British’ or ‘Indian’ in the current film scenario worldwide. The 31-year-old, who started her acting career with Slumdog Millionaire in 2008,  says it would be ‘weird’ if actors only get to play roles belonging to their respective nationalities.

“Actors — depending on what ethnicity they belong to — who want to enter the film world saying that they only want to play that ethnicity in their entire career, get a little weird. It will be very limiting in many ways,” said Freida, who starred in the short film Black Knight Decoded for a popular beverage brand.  “We are in a time when actors from different ethnicities are playing all type of roles. I don’t understand why any one particular actor, belonging to an ethnic minority, has to play characters based on that group. This isn’t happening anymore. I feel blessed to be working in TV and films where people are not just worried about being Americans and Britishers.”

In her short career span, Freida has carved out a niche for herself through films like Miral, Day of the Falcon, Immortals, Desert Dancer and Slumdog Millionaire. The actor says she is very lucky to have worked with different production houses. Today, when Bollywood stars, such as Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan and Suraj Sharma, working in Hollywood, Freida says, “The film world is slowly but surely changing.

It is taking strides to do whatever they can to make representation more diverse. People are slowly getting exposed to diversity. The more exposure they get, the more they are able to accept it,” she said.

Freida went on to say that the perception of Indian films is changing globally. “Credit for this goes to the people who have worked really hard in changing the game,” she said. “Yes, there is surreal hype that people have about Indian films which still exists. I wouldn’t say it has been completely eradicated. In many ways, I feel very lucky to be part of the start of the revolution with Slumdog Millionaire. Now, there is no stopping us.”

The Mumbai girl says more than ethnicity and choice of roles, she is concerned about the “representation of women” in films. “Let’s not forget the biggest film at the box office right now is Star Wars and no doubt, it is the longest-running franchise, but it has a young girl (Daisy Ridley) in the lead role. Also, we have films such as Room and Carol in the lineup, which feature such amazing female characters. It’s a myth that women don’t dwell at the box office,” she added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.

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