Tiny dancer: Freida Pinto


Tiny dancer: Freida Pinto

The actress lets us in on her beauty secret: feeling loved and being happy

By Ridhima Sapre  April 29th, 2014

The ELLE team is at a sprawling sea-facing bungalow, as rare as the unnaturally pleasant morning we’re having in Mumbai. By the look on our sleep-heavy faces, it’s easy to tell it’s a working Sunday. We’re nursing our cups of coffee waiting for the caffeine to kick in when we’re startled out of our lull with a very cheery, highly British, “Ello!” In cropped shorts, a floaty vest and flip-flops, our cover star moves briskly, more hellos echoing through the house like a wake-up call. One minute she’s checking out the clothes on the racks, the other she’s chatting with the tattoo artist, and in no time, her energy catches on. 

When we talk later, I ask Pinto how she manages to stay so upbeat despite the constant shuttling between shoot locations and her London and Mumbai homes. “You’re going to laugh when I tell you this. Have you heard of this Ayurvedic tablet called triphala? It’s the mother of all cures. It keeps my immunity and my system up and running. I also do yoga – it’s a combination of many different styles, not really just one form – every day. On days that I feel lazy, I’ll limit it to 20 to 30 minutes. Walking, being happy, laughing, not eating rubbish, not sitting on the sofa all day: it all helps.”

No eating rubbish?  What about that vada pav she just asked for? “Vada pav without the pav,” she corrects me. “Christmas just went by and I ate like I hadn’t eaten in a year. I think it’s absolutely okay to indulge once in a while, as long as you binge in moderation. The only thing I try and keep out of my diet is refined sugar, and that’s only because I know what my body feels like when I eat a piece of cake. As happy as I feel while eating it, a few hours later, I feel so heavy and, you know, slowed down.”

Surely there’s something she’d give up a diet for. “If I’m preparing for a film or a project, then giving up means giving up completely. I’m pretty strict about my diet in that sense. The only exception is fish. I really love it, so if someone told me I can’t have it because it’s bad for me, it will be very hard for me to stop eating fish.” I was hoping she’d say butter or chocolate. But her focus is equal parts inspiring and intimidating.

The same commitment is carried forward to her films.  In her upcoming movie, Desert Dancer, Pinto plays a professional dancer from Iran, a task that required one year of training. “It was a very interesting role, as it’s so different from anything else I’ve done. When you’re learning to move like that, there are so many inhibitions to overcome. I look at it from an actor’s point of view. To be physically free is very important to our craft. Actors get termed wooden and rigid when they’re uncomfortable with their body. The best thing that came out of the whole year of training to dance is that I stopped judging myself.”

Speaking of inhibitions, we move to her steamy, guitar-burning, chest-thumping act in Bruno Mars’ ‘Gorilla’. Pinto laughs, “That was a lack of any inhibition, right?! People asked me if I was afraid of wearing what I did in the video and I was like ‘no, hell no’.

It was Agent Provocateur and it was like a dream to wear one of those in any kind of project. The hair, make-up, clothes, shoes – everything was done in such a classy, high-fashion way, it didn’t really matter that I was wearing only lingerie.”

On screen and on the red carpet, she’s glamorous, exotic; but outside the spotlight, she’s most comfortable being a no-make-up, jeans-and-tee girl. Being a celebrity, does she feel the pressure to look good all the time? “Have you ever seen me at the airport? I don’t give a damn. I can’t stand in front of the mirror for too long. Even the make-up that I do myself is finished in five minutes flat. This is why I hate selfies; I think they’re the vainest thing ever. The only time I’m okay with getting photographed is when it’s for a magazine or on the red carpet, or if someone asks to have a picture taken with me.” Her Instagram feed checks out; just a few pictures with friends, a few at events and that’s about it.

Ask her anything about work, her favourite designers or TV shows, and she’s outspoken; but even before you so much as try to nudge the conversation towards her personal life, or mention a certain man named Dev, you’ll hit a wall. “Whatever people need to know, they know. Beyond that, I don’t have to tell them anything.” She does concede to being in love, though. “I read in an article that research has shown how emotions can affect various parts of the body, and love is the only emotion that affects the entire body. It really energises you. I always want to be in love.”

Pinto has a wish list, not a bucket list: “I don’t think of dying much. I love to live.” For her, feeling beautiful is  being happy, and her major plan this year is to bring in her “big Three-O” with her girls, “preferably somewhere with sun, sand and surf.” Is there anything we should look forward to from her? “I don’t want people to expect anything because I’d like them to be surprised when it happens.” Going by what we’ve seen so far, we’d be surprised if we aren’t. 

Photographs: Tarun Vishwa; Styling: Malini Banerji; Creative Director: Prashish More; Make-up: Bianca Hartkopf/ Toabh Talent; Hair: Gabriel Georgiou/ Anima Creative Management

The ELLE team is at a sprawling sea-facing bungalow, as rare as the unnaturally pleasant morning we’re having in Mumbai. By the look on our sleep-heavy faces, it’s easy to tell it’s a working Sunday. We’re nursing our cups of coffee waiting for the caffeine to kick in when we’re startled out of our lull with a very cheery, highly British, “Ello!” In cropped shorts, a floaty vest and flip-flops, our cover star moves briskly, more hellos echoing through the house like a wake-up call. One minute she’s checking out the clothes on the racks, the other she’s chatting with the tattoo artist, and in no time, her energy catches on. 

When we talk later, I ask Pinto how she manages to stay so upbeat despite the constant shuttling between shoot locations and her London and Mumbai homes. “You’re going to laugh when I tell you this. Have you heard of this Ayurvedic tablet called triphala? It’s the mother of all cures. It keeps my immunity and my system up and running. I also do yoga – it’s a combination of many different styles, not really just one form – every day. On days that I feel lazy, I’ll limit it to 20 to 30 minutes. Walking, being happy, laughing, not eating rubbish, not sitting on the sofa all day: it all helps.”

No eating rubbish?  What about that vada pav she just asked for? “Vada pav without the pav,” she corrects me. “Christmas just went by and I ate like I hadn’t eaten in a year. I think it’s absolutely okay to indulge once in a while, as long as you binge in moderation. The only thing I try and keep out of my diet is refined sugar, and that’s only because I know what my body feels like when I eat a piece of cake. As happy as I feel while eating it, a few hours later, I feel so heavy and, you know, slowed down.”

Surely there’s something she’d give up a diet for. “If I’m preparing for a film or a project, then giving up means giving up completely. I’m pretty strict about my diet in that sense. The only exception is fish. I really love it, so if someone told me I can’t have it because it’s bad for me, it will be very hard for me to stop eating fish.” I was hoping she’d say butter or chocolate. But her focus is equal parts inspiring and intimidating.

The same commitment is carried forward to her films.  In her upcoming movie, Desert Dancer, Pinto plays a professional dancer from Iran, a task that required one year of training. “It was a very interesting role, as it’s so different from anything else I’ve done. When you’re learning to move like that, there are so many inhibitions to overcome. I look at it from an actor’s point of view. To be physically free is very important to our craft. Actors get termed wooden and rigid when they’re uncomfortable with their body. The best thing that came out of the whole year of training to dance is that I stopped judging myself.”

Speaking of inhibitions, we move to her steamy, guitar-burning, chest-thumping act in Bruno Mars’ ‘Gorilla’. Pinto laughs, “That was a lack of any inhibition, right?! People asked me if I was afraid of wearing what I did in the video and I was like ‘no, hell no’.

It was Agent Provocateur and it was like a dream to wear one of those in any kind of project. The hair, make-up, clothes, shoes – everything was done in such a classy, high-fashion way, it didn’t really matter that I was wearing only lingerie.”

On screen and on the red carpet, she’s glamorous, exotic; but outside the spotlight, she’s most comfortable being a no-make-up, jeans-and-tee girl. Being a celebrity, does she feel the pressure to look good all the time? “Have you ever seen me at the airport? I don’t give a damn. I can’t stand in front of the mirror for too long. Even the make-up that I do myself is finished in five minutes flat. This is why I hate selfies; I think they’re the vainest thing ever. The only time I’m okay with getting photographed is when it’s for a magazine or on the red carpet, or if someone asks to have a picture taken with me.” Her Instagram feed checks out; just a few pictures with friends, a few at events and that’s about it.

Ask her anything about work, her favourite designers or TV shows, and she’s outspoken; but even before you so much as try to nudge the conversation towards her personal life, or mention a certain man named Dev, you’ll hit a wall. “Whatever people need to know, they know. Beyond that, I don’t have to tell them anything.” She does concede to being in love, though. “I read in an article that research has shown how emotions can affect various parts of the body, and love is the only emotion that affects the entire body. It really energises you. I always want to be in love.”

Pinto has a wish list, not a bucket list: “I don’t think of dying much. I love to live.” For her, feeling beautiful is  being happy, and her major plan this year is to bring in her “big Three-O” with her girls, “preferably somewhere with sun, sand and surf.” Is there anything we should look forward to from her? “I don’t want people to expect anything because I’d like them to be surprised when it happens.” Going by what we’ve seen so far, we’d be surprised if we aren’t. 

Photographs: Tarun Vishwa; Styling: Malini Banerji; Creative Director: Prashish More; Make-up: Bianca Hartkopf/ Toabh Talent; Hair: Gabriel Georgiou/ Anima Creative Management