Panaji, Nov 27: Being the first Indian actress to have made it big in international cinema, Freida Pinto, whose career is on a roll post 'Slumdog Millionaire', says she is glad to have cut through the stereotypical way Indians have been portrayed in Hollywood so far.
The 27-year-old actress already has a variety of roles including films like Woody Allen's 'You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger' and Tarsem Singh's Greek war drama 'Immortals' in her kitty, all within three years of making her debut.
"I feel absolutely great to have broken the Indian stereotype. It was high time that Indians got their proper representation in Hollywood," Pinto told PTI in an interview.
"After the kind of characters that we have seen in earlier films and TV series like 'Goodness Gracious', people started looking at every Indian character in a similar light.
Cabdrivers who spoke in a certain way, a father who wanted his daughter to have an arranged marriage... there was no other way of looking at it."
The actress, who is here to screen her latest film 'Trishna', feels it was 'Slumdog Millionaire', which made outsiders view artistes from India in a new light.
"After Slumdog Millionaire, people started taking note. I know a lot of people hated the film in India saying its portrayed the country in a bad light. But then why is there an increased interest in India today? There has been a rise in the number of Indian actors going out to Hollywood. I am happy for Irrfan Khan who is playing the villain in 'Spiderman 4'.
"When there was an economic crisis in America, people looked for a story of hope. And thats what 'Slumdog' provided. The film as a whole played a major part in opening up India to the world," Pinto said.
Before her jump to overseas fame, Pinto was very much a Mumbai girl who dreamt of becoming an actress. She also auditioned for roles here, but unfortunately, the kind of films she wanted to do were made in the eighties.
"I auditioned for Hindi films before 'Slumdog' happened, but the kind of films I would have wanted to be a part of happened in the eighties. I grew up watching those films with my parents. Films which Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi used to do.
"So I didn't know whether my sensibilities would match with Bollywood filmmakers. But after what happened with my first film, I couldn't have asked for better."
She, however admits that her life wouldn't have been the same if she had started with the Hindi cinema.
"If I would have started with Bollywood, it would have been a different path, definitely not this. I always dream bigger than my appetite. When I watched my first Wonker Wai film I wanted to be in it immediately.
"I wanted to be a part of films that had an international repercussion and not impact only one region or area. People keep saying 'now you are a part of Hollywood' but I am not Hollywood, only two of my films were by hardcore Hollywood directors, Miral was half French, and Tarsem Singh is an Indian."
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Pinto, despite her international success, is still very much a normal person in real life and says she is given no star treatment at home.
"No one in my family is star struck, they are as normal as before. That's how I stay grounded. I am very proud of the fact that I do not come from a film family. I would still love to travel by local trains and auto rickshaw, but people stare!"
Pinto herself doesn't believe in the concept of stardom as she finds it very fickle. She'd rather be known for her talent, she says.
"I don't believe in the word star. It is superficial. Stardom comes and goes, it is very fickle. What stays with you is your talent, something which you are proud to possess forever. I am not saying I am the most talented girl but to hone you skills is what I would always like to do."
She rubs shoulders with Hollywood beauties and has been on the cover of many fashion magazine, having featured in People magazine's most beautiful list. But Pinto says she doesn't conform to the Hollywood concept of beauty.
"I don't count calories. I just listen to my body and exercise. I don't understand why everyone wants to look young. I can't wait to grow older. I would love to have wrinkles like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren because each wrinkle has its own story. I admire the character their faces have now more than before.
I know actresses are under the scanner and growing old is difficult for them. But it's nice to age gracefully."