Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 16th 2015 Contents B37
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While Freida Pinto doesn t see her-
self as a role model, the 30-year-old
actress understands there s a huge
responsibility that goes with being in
the public eye. That s why she regards
every film role as a potential catalyst
"One of the reasons I do a film like
Desert Dancer is that I hope it starts
a global conversation," Pinto said.
The film is based on Iranian dancer
Afshin Ghaffarian, who risked his life
by simply forming an underground
dance company. He eventually sought
political asylum in France.
Pinto finds it hard to believe that
people can be punished for making art,
but is not entirely surprised by it.
"I never thought that six kids that
make a music video to Pharrell s Happy
could get arrested, either," Pinto said,
referring to an incident that happened
last year in Iran.
In Desert Dancer, which expands to
additional theaters on Friday, Pinto
plays a fellow dancer who escapes her
oppression by smoking heroin. Ghaf-
farian has said in his memoir that heroin
use is unofficially promoted by the
Iranian regime to keep students docile.
Recently, Pinto sat down with The
Associated Press to discuss the film,
the kind of roles that are important to
her, and her support for the banned
documentary India s Daughter, which
tells the story of the brutal gang rape
of Jyoti Singh. The remarks have been
edited for clarity and brevity.
Dance is something we take for
granted, but in Iran, it can result in
beatings and imprisonment. Were you
surprised by the film?
The relevance to making this film to
what is happening today is something
that I did not expect...I think the one
thing that I took away from it was
immense gratitude for the fact that I
don t have to go through it every day.
I don t have to think twice before I
decide to do some kind of movement,
or the clothes I choose to wear.
How much did you dance to make
it seem so natural?
A lot of training. A lot of hard work
and a lot of bruises. It was all very
important and pivotal to get me to this
stage where I was actually comfortable
with putting myself on camera.
The characters you play always
seem to fight some form of oppres-
I think protest is part of everybody s
life. Whether it is on a political level,
a social everyday level or on an eco-
nomic level. The fact that women in
our industry are fighting for equal pay
is also a form of protest. I feel it s very
representative of wanting to move to
the next level. And in order to do that,
you have to stand up against something.
This time you play an Iranian.
Every time I pick a character that is
not my ethnicity, which everybody
knows I m Indian, they re probably
expecting me to play the Indian, but
I don t want to do that. Because when
I wake up in the morning, the first word
in my head does not pop up Indian. I
feel I m a girl, I m a woman who
belongs to this world, and if I can phys-
ically fit into some characters, I want
to play them all.
Shifting gears, you recently partic-
ipated in a discussion for the docu-
mentary India s Daughter, which was
banned in India. What are your
The backlash actually benefited the
marketing of the film. We did not know
this film was going to get banned. As
much as it saddened us, it got more
people to watch the film.
Do you think the film did its job?
I think what it did was start the con-
versation... This is no longer just an
India problem, this is a global problem,
a world phenomenon... It s what we
really want to start talking about, and
take positive steps to work toward
action. So I do really hope that India s Daughter can
be that tool where we don t let Jyoti s death go by
Last month, frustration led to a mob in India
breaking into a prison and lynching a suspected
The lynching was, in my opinion, very sad, because
that s not what the film was trying to do...I sound
very Gandhi, but non-violence is the way to go. (AP)
on Desert Dancer, responsible roles
right, with her
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