Guys, this appeared in Bombay Times this morning.
Freida O Freida…
What a week it has been! I’m writing this before the Oscars announcements, and my fingers are crossed. With 200 crores riding on it, ‘Slumdog…’ had better win all the big ones, or else the punters will be seriously unhappy. With Pranab’s dismal Interim Budget, the tanking Sensex, and general feeling of gloom and doom, we need something to cheer us up. If a story of hope – romantic and poetic in its own unique way - makes us believe, even briefly that life is beautiful, then Boyle would have done us a favour. Personally speaking, it is Freida Pinto I am most interested in. As Latika, she didn’t do very much for me, but as Freida, I am fascinated by her story. Ever since Mumbai Mirror carried the scoop on Freida’s secret wedding to Rohan Antao in 2007, I am even more intrigued by the young girl’s real life script. It’s the stuff movies are made of. Someone should pen her biography. Better still, she should doher own book. A quickie. At a dinner party last week, two men were slamming Freida for dumping Rohan. I found myself defending her fiercely. It is easy to say, ‘Oh, she used the guy when she was a nobody and then ditched him once she’d made it.’ But look at it from her perspective. When she was just a plain looking , average Jane from the back of the beyond, trying to get ahead as a model like thousands of other hopefuls, she could never have envisaged what was awaiting her just a few short months from then. Freida was frightfully young, immature and a struggler. She didn’t have it easy. She only had Rohan from Goa to fall back on. Rohan must have been an understanding, helpful boyfriend. I’m sure he is a nice guy. The mistake both of them made was to rush into marriage. Going by press reports, it was one of those hasty decisions which Freida at any rate, apparently regretted soon after. It was too late by that time, as her wedding pictures suggest. She could not have dreamt that ‘Slumdog..’ would happen to her… and because of that one film, her entire life would change so dramatically, practically overnight.
So what does a girl in her position do? Stick by her man? The very man who she may have outgrown? Is that possible? Desirable? No way! Remember, she is no longer the same girl. She is a star! Not an ordinary star, but a big international star. She has been catapulted into an entirely different world. Met extraordinary people, received an inordinate amount of attention. She is no longer the Freida who loved a kind but uninspiring boy called Rohan. As things stand today, chances are Freida will make it big on the global scene.If that does happen, she will be courted by the mightiest names in Hollywood. Where would sweet, little Rohan have fitted into this picture?? It is an old, old story. A familiar one. Bollywood is full of similar tales as well. Most times, girls like Freida get slammed for being ruthless, ambitious ‘users’ who discard loyal boyfriends\husbands once they achieve fame and fortune. Yes , they do. So what? Better that than letting the poor chap hang around, ignored and snubbed by one and all. Rohan would have been a liability in Freida’s glamourous, glitzy new life. She was smart enough to distance herself before the whole thing went any further. Of course, there will be an enormous amount of sympathy for the guy. Understandable. He’ll be swamped with interview offers…. especially if ‘Slumdog..’ sweeps the Oscars. If he’s sensible, he’ll spurn all of this and get a life for himself.It is only in commercial Hindi movies like ‘Rangila’ that the heroine realizes who her true love is and promptly turns her back on the seductive world of showbiz. She also spurns the dashing hero who is panting at her pretty feet…. while violins play in the background and the Gods smile down on the lovers. Pity it doesn’t work like that in real life.Freida’s fairytale has just begun.As has Rohan’s nightmare. C’est la vie!