In just six short months, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto have gone from relative obscurity to patting Jon Stewart’s shoulder and gleefully getting down Bollywood-style with Ellen DeGeneres — all a byproduct of the success of their feature-film acting debuts in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
In fact, the journey the young stars have taken mirrors that of their characters. The lead, Jamal, is a young lad that overcomes the obstacles of growing up in the slums of Mumbai, India, to find love and national fame on the Indian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” The movie itself has gone from being an underdog to challenging big Hollywood productions like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Milk” for the title of Best Picture. Look at the stats: “Slumdog” has taken home four Golden Globe Awards and seven British Academy Film Awards. The Screen Actors Guild awarded the film Best Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture, and Danny Boyle was crowned Best Director by the Directors Guild of America. And the movie has 10 Oscar nominations — not bad odds.
And while the fate of the film will be determined Sunday night (February 22), there is one thing the two stars, ages 18 and 23, can confirm — for their first acting gig, it’s certainly been one hell of a ride!
“I feel this has been a dream debut for the both of us,” Freida Pinto said. “For this to happen to absolute newcomers … it’s massive.” Her elation is definitely justified. Before “Slumdog,” Pinto was an Indian model dreaming of a career in acting — another fairy tale brought to life.
For British actor Dev Patel — who first gained popularity for his turn on British TV teen series “Skins” — it was winning over India that proved to be the most rewarding result.
“We thought this was gonna be the toughest audience, especially because I’m the intruder in this film. We just heard that it’s the third-highest Hollywood grosser in India,” Patel said. Hey, coming in third to “Spider-Man” and “Quantum of Solace,” both with considerably bigger budgets than “Slumdog,” is no mean feat.
And with all of the success and media coverage, there is yet another element to the twosome’s “wow” factor — none of it has gone to their heads. In fact, they are often starstruck while hobnobbing with their Hollywood colleagues.
“It started off with Clint Eastwood … then there was Sean Penn … the biggest, biggest thing was Leonardo DiCaprio! It was like a childhood crush,” Pinto gushed.
“We were invited to this party, right? And the guests were eating dessert. It was Cher and Kurt Russell! Imagine if you walk into a kitchen there’s Cher and Russell! That just messes with you!” Patel exclaimed.
At this rate, these two can look forward to many more of such encounters — Pinto has signed with übertalent agency CAA in the US, and Dev Patel will star alongside “Twilight” actor Jackson Rathbone in M. Night Shyamalan’s next film, “The Last Airbender.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Slumdog Millionaire.”
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