Freida Pinto is an Indian actress who primarily appears in British and American films. Aspiring to be an actress since childhood, she used to dress up like TV actors and impersonate them in front of a mirror. However, as a teenager, she was confused about her career path and decided to focus on her education instead of taking up modeling or acting assignments. Eventually, she did venture into modeling and appeared in a few commercials before getting her first serious TV assignment. As the host of an international travel TV show ‘Full Circle,’ she traveled around the world and expanded her horizons. After facing numerous rejections at auditions, she finally bagged the female lead in Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ a film that garnered her international fame. She received a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and won the Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Breakthrough Performance. In the ensuing years, she has built an impressive career and has been hailed for “breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films.” She is vocal about women’s empowerment and feminist issues.
Freida Pinto was born on 18 October 1984, in Mumbai, India, to Sylvia Pinto and Frederick Pinto. Her parents are from Mangalore, Karnataka. Her mother was the principal of St. John’s Universal School in Goregaon, Mumbai, while her father was a senior branch manager for the Bank of Baroda. She has one elder sister, Sharon, who works for NDTV.
Fascinated by the show business from a young age, Freida used to dream of becoming an actress when she was a child. She was especially inspired by Sushmita Sen’s victory in the 1994 Miss Universe pageant and wanted to represent India at the international level one day.
Freida Pinto studied at the Carmel of St. Joseph School and then went to St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She participated in amateur theater while in college but decided not to take up any modeling or acting assignments until graduation as she was still confused about her career path. Finally, after watching the film ‘Monster,’ she realized that acting was the right path for her.
Career as a Model
Blessed with grace and a statuesque figure, Freida Pinto began to model in 2005 and joined Elite Model Management India. In the next two years, she featured in many TV and print advertisements for products, such as Škoda, Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, Vodafone India, Visa, Airtel, etc. During this time, she also auditioned for TV shows and films without much success. Eventually, she began hosting a travel TV show called ‘Full Circle’ and traveled to countries like Fiji, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Singapore, and Thailand as part of the crew.
A glance at the Freida Pinto’s movies shows that her acting career started with a bang but hasn’t lived up to its potential after that. Freida Pinto was selected to audition for the female lead in Danny Boyle’s upcoming film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in 2007. She underwent six months of extensive auditions and finally bagged the role of Latika, the love interest of the male protagonist, Jamal, played by actor Dev Patel. At this juncture, she had no professional training in acting! However, as soon as the shooting wrapped up, she signed up for an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai.
The movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ became a sleeper hit and received critical acclaim. It was nominated for ten awards at the 81st Academy Awards, out of which it won eight. For her performance, Freida Pinto received the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
The success of her debut film made her a popular face and she received numerous offers. In 2010, she appeared in Woody Allen’s comedy-drama ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,’ in which she played Dia, a “mystery woman” who attracts the attention of the character played by actor Josh Brolin. The film premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and received mixed reviews. The same year, the actress starred in Julian Schnabel’s ‘Miral,’ a film based on a semi-biographical novel by Rula Jebreal. She played an orphaned Palestinian woman who had spent her childhood in a refugee camp in Israel. She prepared for the role by visiting numerous refugee camps. Upon its release, the film got mainly negative reviews.
In 2011, Freida Pinto appeared in the science fiction film ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ in which she portrayed Caroline Aranha, a primatologist, opposite the male protagonist played by James Franco. Earning US$481.8 million worldwide, the film was a critical and commercial success. Other movies she appeared in during the early 2010s include ‘Day of the Falcon’ (2011), ‘Trishna’ (2011), and ‘Girl Rising’ (2013).
In 2014, she was cast as Elaheh, the love interest of the protagonist, in the biographical drama ’Desert Dancer’ that was based on the life of Iranian choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian. She played a drug addict in this movie and prepared for her role by attending a few sessions at rehabilitation centers.
She appeared in Terrence Malick’s ‘Knight of Cups’ in 2015. The movie featured an ensemble cast, including Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and Natalie Portman. The same year, she also acted in the action film ‘Blunt Force Trauma’ and the short film ‘Black Knight Decoded.’ In the ensuing years, the actress appeared in movies like ‘Past Forward’ (2016), ‘Yamasong: March of the Hollows’ (2017), ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ (2018), ‘Only’ (2019), and ‘Love, Wedding, Repeat’ (2020). She is set to appear in the upcoming movies ‘Needle in a Timestack’ and ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ shortly.
Before she started acting, Freida Pinto was engaged to her then-publicist Rohan Antao. This relationship ended in early 2009. She then began dating actor Dev Patel, who had been her co-star in ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ They were together for six years before calling it quits.
She later began a relationship with photographer Cory Tran. As of mid-2020, the couple is engaged.
The actress is involved with several humanitarian causes. She is outspoken about issues related to women’s empowerment. She has participated in campaigns for raising funds for underprivileged women and children and has spoken against social evils like child marriage.