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Freida Pinto

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In an extended version of the exclusive interview in this week’s issue, Slumdog’s Freida Pinto, 26, talks long-distance love by Skype and her new film Miral

Did Slumdog change your life?

It gave me the exposure I needed for people to give me a chance. It gave me an opportunity to say I’d like to do films that aren’t race-centric, because I don’t want to be a stereotypical Indian girl – I just want to be a girl.

You live in your hometown of Mumbai rather than LA. Why?

I don’t need to live in LA – technology’s so advanced I can audition on Skype now. LA can sometimes look like a ghost town. You don’t just find people walking on the streets. My favourite three cities – London, New York and Bombay - always give me the feeling of a living, breathing place. There’s never a dull moment in Mumbai. I love it. It’s really home, you know? It’s everything to me. I have so many memories there, my parents and sister still live there and I’ve got so many friends there. A lot of people do find it very chaotic and polluted, but all that aside it’s got its own special charm. It’s so vibrant. You can be stuck in traffic and watch someone dancing or getting into a fight. It’s enjoyable chaos.

How do you and Dev [Patel, Freida’s Slumdog co-star and boyfriend] make your long-distance relationship work?

Well, like I say, there’s Skype, but we also know that to make it work we have to meet in the middle. If one of us has time off, they’ll fly over and make the most of it. It’s an excuse to see new places all the time. Skype’s great for keeping in touch with my family too. When I’m really craving home, all I need to see is my mother’s face and I’m like, OK, just have to have a little more patience, another two weeks to go. I almost start smelling home cooked food in the air. It’s like something’s calling me home.

Miral is based on Rula Jebreal’s novel inspired by her difficult childhood, and centres on an Arab woman who sets up an orphanage in war-torn Jerusalem. What drew you to the film?

Like you say, it’s a true story and the background is so current. It’s something that’s happening in Israel and Palestine even today. But I also feel the message of education and hope in the film supersedes the politics – I met Rula before we started filming and became very aware that it’s a human story. And of course the director Julian Schnabel attracted me, because when you watch a film like The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, you know this is going to be something special.

Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly) directed this and you’ve also worked with Woody Allen since Slumdog Millionaire.

Not bad, hey? When a film’s as big as Slumdog you want the next project to hold a candle to it, or be better. The next film had to have substance, but I still would have worked with a debutant director.

Do you ever think, “Oh, it’s time to do a romcom with Gerard Butler”?

Of course. I’ve just made a big-budget film, so I’ve told my agent a romcom’s next. I’d also like to do an action movie. I think I’ve played the tender girl for too long now. I need to kick some butt.

Will you be in Mumbai for Christmas?

I’m actually going to be filming in Tunisia until the 23rd or 24th December, so I’m not really sure. You know I’d like to enjoy a White Christmas and I have family in Canada. I have literally spent all my 26 Christmases in Bombay, so I’ve never seen a wintery one…

Miral is released in cinemas nationwide on 3 December

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