Freida Pinto: When will we stop treating women vulgarly?

Mumbai: Freida Pinto made a quick visit to India to promote her upcoming film Love Sonia. In an interview with Dainik Bhaskar the actress revealed her thoughts on feminism, the change in Bollywood, and her experience of casting couch.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Did you choose to do Love Sonia because Tabrez is an old friend or was there more to it?

I got this script about ten years back, when Tabrez asked me to read it. He’s been writing this script for 14 years and I have been involved with it only for 10 years. But at that point, he wanted to do a couple of tests for the film since he wanted to direct the film. So he had asked me if I would come in and read the various characters to help the other actresses. I was just helping him out at that point. He sent me that script and I read it on the flight and I was like, ‘Oh my God this is very disturbing. I can’t believe that this actually happens and it is such a global problem’. So it think I got passionate about it.

Of course, him being a friend played a big part because I wanted to support this cause as he’s been involved with it for a long time. He is also the most capable director to have done this, because this is not just a film for him, he’s actually very invested in the cause and for years have helped rescue girls. When you know someone has been doing this for real, you want to support them as much as you can. We have seen a lot of film on trafficking etc, this in my opinion is the most real and most authentic as it gets.

Q: Are most of your decisions for what to pick based on emotions?

No. Sometimes I make emotional decisions, but there is also a strategy as I wonder if this should be my next move. Is it helping me push my career forward? That kind of strategic thinking only comes from experience. Sometimes taking a break from work once in a while is also a good idea for me. To recharge my batteries and come back, as opposed to getting greedy and doing it all and wearing myself out. It’s a real gift to not feel desperate. When you are content and you know your place, that’s when the feeling of desperation is eliminated, you will be surprised how much good work comes your way. If you live in a constant world of anxiety, that pushes people out of your area.

Q: You have been involved with women’s causes and other charity causes. How much do you think an actor should give himself or to make movies to further your causes….

I don’t think I can do it all the time. I don’t want to do Love Sonias all the time, there are many aspects that I want to capture. It is very difficult for me to understand that not every film I read will make a great film. Sometimes if you want to move your audiences, there… what Tabrez has done with this movie is that every character is unique. The performers were so unique and relatable. I don’t want to play the puritan woman all the time, who’s sunshine all the time. None of us are morally right all the time, why play such characters?

Q: Is that the reason why you are not seen in too many Hindi films?

The Hindi films I am watching are not really full on masala films anymore. My perception of what India is making, changed altogether after I watched some movies recently. I watched Sacred Games and enjoyed it immensely. I am so proud of what we are making these days. Finally, they are upping the game. I watched Hichki on a flight, I liked it too.

Q: You had once mentioned that feminism is not about women being superior but equal to men…

Yes. There’s no one up and one down. My biggest fear is that when feminist revolutions like #Metoo happen, we are going to leave a whole community of angry men. They are being penalised just for being men. Sometimes just for the sake of being feminists, we make them afraid. There are some men who don’t need to go through that. Look at Tabrez, he’s a man but he has told the story of women so beautifully.

Q: Have you had casting couch kind of experiences in Hollywood?

I am really lucky because I have had one or two experiences which were good, I managed to stand my ground. If you are going to treat me like that… I am not going to let you walk all over me. Now they won’t say anything. I just walk out of a film if I am not comfortable.

Q: You mentioned at an event that you don’t like the sensationalism that comes while promoting Hindi films… What do you have to say?

I am told that things have changed now. It is no longer the same. The last time I heard about a film by Ranveer Singh and Deepika, all that was being promoted or talked about was their kiss. I am like, seriously, is that the only thing that you want to talk about in the film? Even with Trishna, the film that I did last, the craziest part was that distributor and producer wanted to sensaitonalise it all. I absolutely refused, saying that I am not going to talk about the sexual content of the film which was not created to titillate but as part of the film. They wanted me to only talk about that. When are we going to liberate this thought? Why are women treated so vulgarly?