Freida Pinto as a name strikes many chords – notably ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, Indian-born Hollywood actress, Dev Patel and what not. Few of us know that she was born into a middle-class family and brought up mostly in India until her big Hollywood breakthrough with the Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, which shot her up to fame. Having that said, apart from the Danny Boyle’s golden egg, Pinto has also scored with her other endeavours in both film and television space. With Andy Serkis’ ‘Mowgli’ in post-production wherein, she would be seen portraying Messua, one of the handful of human characters in the rather intense psychological thriller, she’s seemingly on a roll.
Be that as it may, most of Freida Pinto’s roles in her cinematic journey so far have appeared clichéd to many, given her Indian roots and her sultry avatar right from the beginning. Although most of the feature films have shown her as an immigrant, or that belonging to an Asian/Middle-eastern descent, off late Pinto could be seen avoiding such roles to stay away from the stereotypes. Given that Freida Pinto’s journey had begun almost a decade ago, she still has a long way to go and accomplish many milestones to reach the zenith of her counterparts. This list brings to you top Freida Pinto movies which may or may not have rocked the box office collections, but most certainly holds her place in high regard for a particular niche. Interestingly, Pinto has appeared only in ten mainstream movies so far, if we exclude short films and documentaries.
10. Blunt Force Trauma (2015)
Moving slightly away from her typecast appearances, although not entirely, Pinto plays a vengeful sister and a soul-searcher Colt, who’s on a trail to find her brother’s killer while she partners up with John, a gun-toting enthusiast who is into a weird cockfight-like game. As they both fall for each other (rather physically), John has his own fetish of duelling against Zorringer, an invincible fighter of sorts. Panned by critics and audiences alike, the movie became rather (in)famous for Pinto’s nude scene, perhaps her first without a body-double and a classical non-sensical plotline. Still, some of the pause-worthy moments could make it worthwhile for you. Wanna try?
9. Knight of Cups (2015)
Though the entire Terence Malick’s flick follows an abstract path, where the symbolical intricacies and character-depths are left for the audiences to get into, ‘Knight of Cups’ was received with mixed responses, also perhaps due to the fact that it was tailor-made of a niche set of audiences. The story follows Rick, an LA-based screenwriter who is gloomy about the circumstances of his life and who seeks freedom from his life’s emptiness via women. He is shown to have fleeting relationships with various women in the movie, most notably Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) and Helen (Freida Pinto). The interlude of emotions, sublimeness, and vanity comes to a pass in the end. Or does it? The narrative, cinematography, and to an extent, the performances will most certainly blow your mind.
8. Immortals (2011)
The Greek-mythology based epic fantasy had Henry Cavill as one of its highlights. Not to mention Freida Pinto’s nude stint, her first ever on-screen, that was allegedly filmed using a body double. Theseus is a mortal, who is mentored by Zeus himself to preside over the mortal affairs until the release of the Titans and the ultimate fall of Hyperion, a mortal king. Phaedra is an oracle who has visions, initially who is under the captivity of Hyperion, but successfully escapes and joins Theseus’ quest. What happens between Phaedra and Theseus is known as a world-history, but the final battle and a few steal-worthy moments surely make this flick worth your while.
7. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
No, this is not the work of a soothsayer if you take my word for it, although the movie has references to one factually. ‘You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger’ boasts of an ensemble cast and an amusing, light-hearted storyline, straight from the kitty of Woody Allen. Things aren’t good between Alfie and Helena as they are on the brink of separation, so are Sally (Alfie-Helena’s daughter) and Roy. While Sally has a thing for her boss Greg, Roy drools over his hot neighbour Dia (Freida Pinto) who lives in the building opposite to his window. Helena gets herself hooked, in the meanwhile, to a fortune teller, hence perhaps the title. Though there’s nothing overly attractive about the movie, seeing so many stars and actors together might make your day.
6. Miral (2010)
A novel-based film and a biopic based on the life and times of Miral, a Palestinian girl stuck in a mess during the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1948, ‘Miral’ has Pinto appearing in the titular role. The film commences with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, during which Hind Husseini, a real-life Palestinian woman rescues 55 children and sends them to Jerusalem, thus leading to the establishment of Dar Al-Tifel institute. Pinto plays Miral, one of the 55 kids thus rescued, who spends her teens inside the institute when she realises the greater cause towards her nation. ‘Miral’ though soars high on ambition, it has its own fault lines which most of us may ignore.
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5. Day of the Falcon (2011)
Based on a novel, ‘Day of the Falcon’ narrates the rivalry between two Sultans – Nesib and Amar, who come to a pact over ‘Yellow Belt’, a strip of no man’s land between their ruling territories. As a geologist discovers high-grade crude oil below the strip of land, pacts have to be broken and new ones have to be formed to reap the benefits of the so-called western capitalism. One of the new pacts is to marry Auda, Sultan Amar’s son to Leyla (Freida Pinto), Nesib’s daughter. Will the falcon of peace ever fly over their ruled territories? There’s only one way to find out.
4. Desert Dancer (2014)
A biopic at the outset and the ever-inspiring tale of Afshin Ghaffarian, an Iranian dancer, who finds his solace and freedom in his passion for dance, forms the core narrative of ‘Desert Dancer’, the desert here probably refers to the middle-east or the desert where Ghaffarian’s dance group practises. Set in the backdrop of Iranian political turmoil of 2009, as Afshin Ghaffarian’s passion soars, he’s joined by a few others including Elaheh (Freida Pinto) who form a dance troupe in secret, for any dance form is banned in Iran and is a punishable offence. Enthusiasm over prejudice, ‘Desert Dancer’ is a film that is all about movements during a nationwide movement against an authoritarian regime.
3. Trishna (2011)
In this Thomas Hardy novel-based movie, Freida Pinto appears in the titular role perhaps for the second time in her career so far. The movie surrounds a wealthy hotelier’s son Jay Singh and a middle-class girl Trishna, set in the artistic backdrop of Rajasthan and Mumbai. Initially, Trishna works under Jay at his hotel, but as Jay develops feelings for her and violates her dignity, thus making her pregnant, things change in Trishna’s life too. How she tries to fight back the lesser evil that is money with the greater evil that is Jay himself forms the rest of the story. Even though the end is rather shocking, bordering sadistic, still, the edge doesn’t wear off pretty soon.
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Yep, Andy Serkis plays the lead ape Caesar in one of his performance capturing roles. ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is the story of a pet ape named Caesar, who is a genetically enhanced Chimp who is adopted by Will (James Franco) – one of the biologists at San Francisco Biotech company. As Caesar and Will get closer, Dr Caroline (Freida Pinto) – a primatologist also starts showing her likeness towards the now adolescent chimp. Things take an ugly turn when Caesar is sent to a primate shelter where he realises his ultimate “rebellious” purpose. ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ might sound like a mouthful, but the pathbreaking performances and the revolutionary undertone set the stage on fire.
1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
This wasn’t a difficult guess, was it? The film that made Freida Pinto and Dev Patel household names, especially in Bollywood, is the crowning jewel of Pinto’s career at least, and quite notably her first. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ follows the story of Jamaal, a slum-dwelling tea seller, who is now the contestant of “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” game show, hosted by Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor). Jamaal and Latika (Freida Pinto) are a thing from their childhood days, but Jamaal’s brother Salim takes undue advantage of Latika and eventually they separate. As Jamaal answers all the questions correctly on the game show, based on his life experiences, he also reconciles with Latika eventually. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a phenomenon and is a rewarding and satisfactory experience, every time we watch it. Although many have called it a bit overrated, for me, I am sold. How about you?
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