Freida Pinto is in town shooting for a Michael Winterbottom film for the past one week, completely under wraps, Mumbai Mirror brings you an exclusive behind the scenes sneek peek


Vishwas Kulkarni and Kunal Shah (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 16, 2011)


The sets were not scurrying with as many bystanders wanting a sneak peek of say Hrithik Roshan or Aamir Khan.

But fact is that internationally Freida Pinto is our biggest export, as far as acting talent goes. She’s worked with Danny Boyle, Woody Allen, and what brings her to Mumbai is again a leading role with a leading director.

Rana Chakraborty
Freida Pinto with Riz Ahmed and director Michael Winterbottom shooting for Trishna at a studio in Chakala. See more pix and detailed story on page  27

And while Pinto’s sunshine smile is less of a USP today, one can see soft changes in her persona, a languid internationalism that some of our leading ladies would die for. To give Freida company was her co-star in the film, British rapper dude Riz Ahmed, who was slated to perform later in the evening at Red Ant, a pub in Bandra.

“Look, why don’t you come with me to the gig after the shoot. We can chat up in the car,” said Pinto.

Ahmed, who is also known for his roles in The Road to Guantanamo, Shifty and Four Lions seemed quite comfortable in his shirt and denim routine and would pass off as a regular guy.

You would never know that he is a high roller. But then again, the trick with people like Pinto and Ahmed is precisely that.

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DETAILED STORY

Director Anurag Kashyap, in a corner of something called the ‘control room’, is playing Scrabble on his I-Pad.

It is the last day of shoot on the sets of Trishna, a film he is co-producing with Sunil Bohra and Guneet Monga, both welcoming souls and clearly ecstatic about collaborating with international superstars like director Michael Winterbottom and Freida Pinto, who has beaten Aishwarya Rai hollow in the ‘see you at Cannes’ game.

Rana Chakraborty
Freida Pinto shoots for her film Trishna in Manoranjana Studio, Andheri (E)

The control room is basically a rectangular box atop a set of stairs in Manoranjan Studio at Chakala, Andheri East.

The control room has a large glass window from which you can survey the action on the floor below: a dance troupe is doing a Bollywood dance number in all its garish glory. It is the sort of scene that the West likes to imagine about cinema in Bombay.

It isn’t that far from the truth, come to think of it. This has been happening for a week but the producers have managed to keep everything under wraps.

In a corner near the video monitor, Freida Pinto, in a blue blouse and black pants, is observing the action. Your correspondents wait for her turn to come on stage and do the shimmy. But this is not the case.

During a tea break, when the dance troupe and spot boys and assistants get down to the serious business of eating, your correspondents too try to munch on samosas and sandwiches. But we realise that we are being shot too! This is not for the making of the film bit, which film crews do all the time. This is actually a part of the film.

We approach Freida twice in between this break, as an omnipresent camera unit hovers in all directions, like Paul the Octopus. She says, “No, you see even the break is part of the scene. So I can’t talk in between breaks. I have to focus on either my work, or the interview. Not both.” We understand.

Winterbottom though is easier to convince into talking. “Trishna is basically an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Riz Ahmed and Freida play the protagonists”. Riz Ahmed is a British Muslim rapper. Anurag adds, “He will be performing at a pub called Red Ant later in the evening.

Freida and the rest of the crew will be really chilled out then. Why don’t you guys try and get her then?” It’s not a bad suggestion, but just then a PR person gives us an in.

We follow Freida into what she insists on calling “the trailer”. Closer home, it is called the make-up van. On entering, one of us says, “Congratulations,” though why exactly we are congratulating her is not known to any of the parties involved, including Freida. “Oh, thank you so much,” says Freida, who looks quite regular.

But then again, this must be method acting Hollywood-style. Anurag tells us, “In the film Freida is a simple girl from Rajasthan who has come to Mumbai. Here she comes to see a shoot with a friend. At this shoot she sees Ganesh Acharya choreographing a song with Uma Qureshi and Vicky.” Uma Qureshi is the girl Kashyap is launching in The Gangs of Wasseypur, his next feature.

Vicky is the son of ace action director Sham Kaushal, who worked on Slumdog Millionaire.

The air-conditioned make-up van has an odd décor that alternates between metal walls and cobalt blue cushioning. When the photographer tries to grab a picture she is firm, “Look, the trailer is nowhere in the film, so I don’t know if I can allow myself to be photographed in the trailer.” The photographer steps out.

Just as we are about to begin, a girl from the crew, opens the door to the trailer and says, “Michael wants you out right now.”

“Oh my god, this is so embarrassing. Look can’t you give me five minutes?” pleads Freida.

“Michael wants you out right now! He’s calling for you!” From behind the crackle of static on her walkie-talkie, Michael Winterbottom begins to reveal the killer inside him. “Where is she! We’re beginning to shoot out on the street!”

The interview is over.

On the way to the street outside the studio, the crew girl goes, “It’s not about us, ya. With us we’ll give you five minutes, ya, No problem. But you know how they function, no?