Stars ’n’ Gripes: Freida Pinto Rails Against Hollywood and Priyanka Chopra Jonas Rats on Bollywood
- The two talented and glamorous actors recently talked about challenges and frustrations en route to their global stardom.
They are the two most well-known Indian actors in America, both glamorous and talented. They shot into fame in an industry that is difficult to breach given their ethnicity. Yet, they have deep misgivings about their careers which began in Mumbai.
Recently, both of them made news griping against the odds they faced in their respective careers — Freida Pinto railed against Hollywood for “lack of willingness to do something different” which nearly derailed her career soon after she shot into a global fame with the “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won a staggering eight Oscars at the 2009 Academy Awards. She appeared destined for Hollywood stardom with her critically acclaimed portrayal of Latika in Danny Boyle’s blockbuster film alongside British Indian actor Dev Patel.
And to the surprise of critics and fans, her career went nowhere, all because she refused to be typecast and reject many roles. Speaking at NYWIFT Awards she blamed her predicament on Hollywood’s lack of imagination. “Stereotypes after stereotypes, lack of imagination, lack of willingness to do something different, to try something new, really started gnawing at me and left me frustrated and I started turning down roles,” Pinto said.
Despite her stratospheric success, she said “behind the glossy sheen of her success, she was struggling to get to grips with the brutal realities of the entertainment industry.”
“I was referred to as the ‘Belle of the Ball,’ courted by incredible filmmakers and studio executives,’ she recalled, adding: ‘[But I was] accepting these offers knowing well, they didn’t really see me or understand me,” Pinto said.
Pinto said was unemployed for two years only because she refused to take on any ‘stereotyped’ roles. “Her career took a serious downturn after she appeared in the 2011 movie “Immortals” — after which she did not film another major project until 2014, According to The Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who had a meteoric rise in the Indian film industry after she won the Miss World title in 2000, spoke about her distressing time in Bollywood which was obsessed with skin tones and politics. The “dusky” star recently opened up Dax Shepard’s podcast about why she abruptly left a lucrative career in Indian cinema and headed West to America. She was particularly upset by how she had to grovel with cliques that dominated the Hindi film industry.
Her main concern and source of humiliation were about her complexion. “I was lightened up in many movies. Through makeup and then blasting lighting. There was a song which I still remember. It was called “Chitti Dudh Kudi” which means a girl who is as white as milk and I ain’t that but I was playing her and I was really lightened up in the movie,” she said.
She felt discriminated against when she was passed over for fair-skinned colleagues. If not, the option was to “lighten up” her, as was the practice. And “I’m not even that dark,” she said. In an ironic twist she found success in Hollywood despite her “dusky” look when she became the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series, ABC’s thriller, “Quantico.”
Perhaps, looking back Chopra Jonas expressed regret for having appeared in an Indian ad for a fairness cream early in her career. “In the ad she played a dark-skinned flower seller who has a crush on a young man who ignores her. The moment she applies the fairness – or skin-lightening – cream, he shows an interest in her,” The Guardian reported. She admitted such ads were damaging to the self-esteem of Indians with dark skin, but that she had agreed to it only because big beauty brands provided visibility and income for female stars. “A beauty brand is a really big part of an actress’s trajectory,” she said.
Coincidently, Pinto, too, claimed that L’Oreal lightened her skin in photos for 2011 ad campaign. She has since had a clause written into her contract saying she will not be involved in promoting any skin-lightening products.