Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) She's been catapulted straight to Hollywood. Freida Pinto, the poised, smiling beauty that Oscar winner 'Slumdog Millionaire' has thrown up on the global stage, has done what few Indian actors have managed to do before her.
From Om Puri to Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan to Ayesha Dharkar - everyone has worked in Hollywood films but none has tasted instant, mainstream fame like Freida.
Even the glamorous Aishwarya Rai, 35, who has been adjudged India's most bankable star in Hollywood by Forbes, has taken her time to journey there. But not Freida, 24.
The younger model-turned-actress from Mumbai has already walked the Oscar red carpet, shone in the multiple Oscar-winning 'Slumdog Millionaire' and is set to sizzle on popular magazine covers, with just one film to her name.
'Freida's was a fresh face that was exposed in an international project. That worked to her advantage since she did not have any baggage attached with her. She is this fresh girl, good with English who can carry herself and that's why (she is) liked by many,' film critic Omar Quereshi told IANS.
'Most Indian actresses first concentrate on Bollywood films and then are picked up by Hollywood directors for international projects. So their prime focus has always been Bollywood,' he said.
Freida is one of the luckiest Bollywood actresses, having been to the Academy Awards, that too, right at the beginning of her career. Even the Bachchan daughter-in-law, Aishwarya, who is a regular at the Cannes Film Festival, hasn't walked the Oscar red carpet yet.
Thanks to British filmmaker Danny Boyle's film, Freida has been exposed to instant international acclaim that any actress would die for. She has already bagged Hollywood director Woody Allen's next project. She will share screen space with the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin in the movie.
'With Aishwarya the scene was that she got projects since she was Miss World and had also done Bollywood films. That's why Freida's success looks more prominent since she emerged from nowhere and has done a good job,' said Quereshi.
Among Indian actresses, Shabana starred in Hollywood productions like 'Madame Sousatzka' (1988) followed by 'City of Joy' (1992), Ayesha was seen in 'Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones' and 'The Mistress of Spices' as well as the television series 'Arabian Nights' and the West End and Broadway musical 'Bombay Dreams'.
Aishwarya can boast of four international projects - 'Bride & Prejudice', 'Mistress Of Spices', 'The Last Legion' and 'The Pink Panther 2', which is currently being shown in India.
But none of these has set the box office on fire like 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Danny Boyle's film not only got critical acclaim but it also won all the top global awards - four Golden Globes, seven British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards and eight Oscars.
While Freida has been hailed by the international media for her performance, Aishwarya has been panned by critics abroad who feel she is wooden in 'The Pink Panther 2'.
Freida has bagged the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. The latter took home the best actress prize at the Elle Style Awards too.
Freida's fashion quotient has always been on an upswing. Freida even topped the list of Vogue Magazine's 10 best-dressed people. She is also set to sizzle on the covers of popular magazines like Maxim and Vogue India.
'Sometimes because of our features and our body type, certain things don't suit us, that's the case with Aishwarya. She has mostly gone wrong with the choice of colours and styles while appearing in international events. Whereas Freida can carry most Western styles and has chosen the right designs for herself,' designer Atsu Sekhose told IANS.
'She is the new flavour of the season. Whatever she has worn at these events prove that she can carry off any dress with style and confidence,' he added.
Said designer Alpana of the label Azara: 'Freida has a great body with an attractive face. She pulls off everything very well. She carries herself with poise and knows what to wear and when.'
The stars are certainly shining for India's newest export to the world, Freida.
(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)