Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FREIDA PINTO - MY (UN)FAIR LADY?

Poor Freida Pinto. While whooping it up at various parties all the world over in the wake of Slumdog Millionaire's super success, our poor little girl in the limelight has been hounded by bad press.

Apparently, in her baby steps up the fame-and-fortune ladder, she has been stepping on a lot of touchy toes. There was the ditching of former fiance/husband Rohan Antao (gleefully played up by the media, with photos of a mopey Antao wishing her all the best). There was the snubbing of Wendell Rodricks, the Goan designer who gave darling Freida her first break in modelling. Wendell makes delicious free-flowing gowns which can grace the red carpet as well as any other. Instead, 'international' Freida is opting for Dries Van Notens and Gallianos galore (the blue net gown at the Oscars got a very mixed reaction).
And there is the simpering smiles and cosying up to the eligible Dev Patel, a budding romance which seems constructed only for the cameras.

All this rankles. Latika (her character in SDM) was a woman who was forced to compromise, yet who always rememebered her past loves and loyalties. Freida's press-created avatar comes across as a girl who chose to compromise, and who has willingly and quickly forgotten her past - loves and loyalties included.

There seems to be a moral which is being subtly created and reinforced - the glamour of the West (Hollywood, etc) turning the head of the gullible Indian girl and making her forget her tradition and culture.

Maybe I am being over-critical, maybe Freida is really a manipulative-miss-on-the-make, but then we have never really come across a clarification from her, have we? And it is so easy for self-righteous guardians of Indian values to point fingers and say, "See, what a slum-bitch she is." I can recall a similar anti-Aishwarya Rai campaign in the press when she tried to make her mark in Hollywood. Maybe India likes to keep its heroines under a metaphorical purdah - at home in Bollywood, rather than creating a flutter abroad?

19 comments:

SwAtI said...

yeah.. i'v read many newsbytes on her -some trying to create unnecesasry hype about her & some trying to tarnish her image in public eye. I refrain from forming any opinion at all coz the media loves to play up anything & everything. All I can say is that I'm bugged with the overdose of Freida & her wardrobe tales..phew!! ;)

Vivek Patwardhan said...

Media loves to create heroes and also someone they can flog repeatedly. But absence of rebuttal makes her case worse certainly.
Vivek

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Swati,

Even I'm tired of OD-ing on Freida's wardrobe-pix.

Hi Vivek,

Media can be a very cruel god, it can lift you up without support and throw you down without warning.

nsiyer said...

I do not know as to what she is doing is right. If she is right and she does not to choose to right the wrong on her by the media, it may cost her. Media can sound the death knell for upcoming stars unless they have their backing within.

Mystic Margarita said...

Well, she is an adult and if she chooses to forsake her friends for the allure of fame, then it's her choice and will have to live with it, whether for better or for worse.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

NSIyer and MM,

I agree. It's her life but the media's business, and I guess that's the way it is in showbiz.

RajM said...

She is graceless and has no sensitivity or tact. She selfishly dumped her fiance ON THE PHONE. A sensitive person would have first had a face-to-face chat, held hands and worked out a joint answer and allowed this to be her fault: after all she was walking out. Rohan is now being hounded and treated as a joke. Did he do anything wrong? No - just loved her too much without realizing that she was not in love with him.

After all, she should have cancelled the engagement in May 2008, not in Jan after the movie was now a hit: certainly a back up to a meal ticket being kept in reserve is things failed.

Crass and graceless: that is what she is. Hollywood can be fickle, and there is no Bollywood to return to, as in India she is toxic.

She plays a girl who lives he life of true love? what irony, she is in real life nothing but a selfish, uncaring, brutish brat

The Scatterbrain said...

If only we had the grace to focus on the good things. Here is a faily dark skinned, unconventional beauty from India who has had a chance to make it big outside. I only wish her all the best. Because frankly, I believe she would not have had a hairs breadth of a chance to make it big in the Indin Film Industry. All we seem to want here are lighht skinned wimps!

The Scatterbrain said...

oh... and one more thing. Why should your life reflect the character you play on screen? An actor acts. That is her job. She has no obligation to public to fulfill the same role in her private life. I think its high time we remove those rose tinted glasses and look at life as it really is. Frieda Pinto is just another girl who has every right to make the choices she does with her own life.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

RajM and Scatterbrain,

your differing takes on this issue reveals the amount of controversy created for all the wrong reasons.

RajM said...

Heck...no one grudges her the success she craves, and that she has unconventional (?) looks is all to the good.

Nor do we say that she has to be the Bharatiya Nari, "till death do us part". The point at contention is the maturity at handling a difficult decision - without damaging your partner, who for better or worse was your better half until fame took over.

She was walking out, she was not forced into the engagement / marriage, was she? Then she should not have hid out in LA, avoiding a resolution in person.

I don't belive in "happily ever after", I believe in compromises that make both partners successful, give and take a few, each ways. But, whe she had the undisputed right she had to walk out, she did it horribly. Did she think this would not come out? Did she expect that Rohan or his friends would have kept quiet so that she would have no issues? And to talk as if this was painful to her: what about the other party, which has been so damaged that in his place someone else might have gone and done something permanent! His business clients, his neighbours, even people who never met him, will be wondering what was so horrible about him that she even refused to acknowledge his existence, if only to exit gracefully? There are people ridiculing his looks, even his decision to allow and help her in the show-biz industry: they have called him an idiot for letting her out of the kitchen!

She handled it very, very horribly.

I have 2 teenaged daughters, and they believe that she has the right to do whatever she wants: walk way from a relationship, even a marriage: but she (just as it would have been if it was a he walking out) had the responsibility to help her ex get out of this with his dignity intact.Thankfully, they seem to have a perspective beyond her success, looks and what-not.

RajM said...

One more point: as a well known personality, you act as a role model. Role models do what is right, and what is right is not to lie or to deflect criticism: not only do you handle relationships right, but you also are up front when you are wrong: to tell the media to produce proof about her engagement / marriage when this was true, was wrong. These were lies, and then to say that the media roasted her over a spit, is wrong.

If you want to make your fame and money as a celebrity, at least carry the role model bit to its logical conclusion: be truthful, come what may.

There are kids listening, and they may feel that lying is ok, or even a proper thing to do.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi RajM,

Although I might not agree with you when you say that role models have to be careful of how they behave because young people will emulate them, but I DO AGREE WITH YOU when you say that people should have the guts and decency to be honest and upfront in their personal relationships.

Moshe said...

I can´t believed this! I am from Mexico and I watched the movie. Slumdog is a hymn for life. For about 80 minutes or so you see the nothing but misery, abuse, hopeless. Then, in the last 10 minutes you see this cute girl emerging to give a happy ending enforced by the final musical dance in the credits. I guess that’s the reason people connected emotionally with her. In the next days I watched interviews she gave to American TV and she looked gorgoeus, intelligent and charming. So, people reinforced their opinion about her, this is, not diferent from the girl in the movie. She didn´t commit a crime by dumping his husband, but it tells a lot about her -a bad person. He helped reach where she is now, he stood for by her from the begining, he was his first PR agent, she married him -and after the fame came she just dumped him! Even worse, she denies she is/was married... That is something cruel! If you want to walk out from a relation, you should at least do it properly, also when the person you are dumping trusted and supported you all the way from zero to the place you are now at. All the charm and good world viewers had on her has faded away! Enjoy it, Freida, Hollywood hotness lasts less than 15 minutes, and you have not a single chance in Bollywood! Cheers, Rohan! What goes around comes around! I guees she is going to come crawling back to your door very soon! You’ll have tha last laugh then!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Moshe,

Thanks for you views, which I partly agree with. It is very bad indeed not to treat anybody, famous or non-famous, man or woman, with the dignity every individual deserves. Freida may have been guilty of that. But the media also goes on overdrive every so often that the picture gets distorted. This fortnight's PEOPLE magazine (Indian edition) carries a cover story on Freida Pinto's post-Slumdog life by Wendell Rodricks, the designer who gave her the first break. It reads like a balanced, sweet glimpse into the life of a hardworking, sincere girl. That's what the media can do, I guess. Create a very real picture which may or may not be the truth.

RajM said...

After reading Moshe's comment, I remembered a seminar in 2006 or 2007 (one of those the budget debates) at the Oberoi, Mumbai (the Regal Room), where I saw a girl in blue, ushering guests in (the Regal room), and later handing out the microphone during the QnA - she was a group of girls placed to usher guests and hand out the microphone. She was attractive enough (attractiveness does not mean only being pretty - she looked like the girl-next-door, not mind blowing pretty, which is the reason why I remembered): I would say she stood out because the crowd was that of Chartered Accountants's who even at their best look like dead fish anyways.

I recall today that she had a lapel pin, which gave an unusual name: Freida. Just to check, I went back and saw the photos: yes, thats her in a corner, no questions, earning a few quid to survive. After the do, there was a guy who was standing outside the regal room (at 1130 PM), with whom she left hand-in-hand (also in the photos, could not see the face) - this must be the unlucky and hapless Rohan, who waited till midnight to pick up Freida, and drive her back to faraway Malad from Nariman Pt. It does not look like over the years he built her up to become his golden goose some socialite has averred (would he have known the future? if yes, then he would have made trillions by now, Freida or not!) - he looked like a loverlorn chap who was happy he had what he wanted: the hand of a reasonably attractive girl, and in love enough to spend a late night waiting to pick her and take her home.

Sad, you love someone to pieces and that person publicly dumps you (after an engagement, this is a public dumping, no question), and without even a personal meeting.

I just hope that Rohan does not lie down and go into a shell just because he was dumped, or is afraid of being ridiculed by socialites and the fashion brigade, who don't want the wrong looks to intrude on their red carpet experience - I hope that he becomes really successful as an entrepreneur, creates jobs, value for himself, becomes well known and has a real life to enjoy. He deserves whatever happiness he gets from now on.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi RajM,

Your personal witnessing of the relation between Freida-Rohan does put a different spin on the matter. But maybe a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. As for me, I'm not questioning her decision to dump Antao, only that the reports as to how she did it seems to reveal a rather calculating and cold side.

RajM said...

Hi Sucharita

Thanks for braving our rants!

I have never been so perturbed by such an event: hey, 19 years ago I got the treatment and did not feel so shaken as this one has made me feel. My g/f walked away, and this was a childhood sweetheart: we knew each other from the age of 10 or so. She did not lie, nor did she hide anything, and took the blame: she was the person who changed, not me. You understand, families were aghast. I just got into my work, was fairly successful, met another great girl of course, and it has been fantastic since then. A few years later (the ex-g/f) we met again by chance, and could discuss our family and kids without any embarrassment or recrimination. All happened for the good, I felt.

In this case, the lack of truth has got to me: the whole change happened after Toronto as the media reports. The girl tried to hide her relationship (a big no-no in any public sphere), and then lied about it (a big career killer: this can crop up anytime like a jack-in-the-box and give you a bloody nose). I got wondering what level of immaturity would a person have, to hide an occasion where her and his parents were involved along with friends who took time out to attend. This was awfully amateurish: would the media not cotton on to this? The media will always ferret out the truth and the best way (and the best for others involved) is to be truthful, without being in a confessional. This was the point where I got concerned that my kids would think this avoiding the truth was right - after all she has got all she wants, hasn't she?.

Then of course, the tale that she could not be with him and an international star at the same time, then all the nonsense about her career, as if being with some one who is devoted to you is a bad thing.

I also got a feel that she blamed him for revealing the truth: I think lying is something she did, not he, so to blame him or the media is taking the wrong too far. The only water that has flown below the bridge, it seems, is that Rohan had it stacked all against him: the director probably pushed the actors together, and for some reason (and I will use soft words here, this is inexcusable) Anil Kapoor seemed to be pushing them into a relationship, as if past relationships and family were immaterial, and that their film unit was the only thing that was worth anything. If he had any sense of right, Anil would have engaged himself in safeguarding the two poor kids who are, after all, the real heroes of the movie.

Its the lying and utter lack of grace and sensitivity that gets to me.

As I said, no one grudges her success, but you have to carry yourself with grace and treat other with grace.

I hope we never see anything like this again, and that Rohan and family move on without losing their confidence and respect. I think this must have been an annus horribilis to beat all bad times ever for them. What must they have gone through.

Thanks once again for braving my words.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Raj,

It is not really a rant, but a concern that you are expressing. Even I do not like the fact that "she got away with it", that she could treat somebody so shabbily and yet not be 'corrected' or 'shown her place'. It seems all wrong somehow and if you believe in KARMA, then, too, this is unfinished business.

Thanks for writing in.