I'm getting to the age where a young lady in her midtwenties could be my daughter. And so when I learned that Freida Pinto, the beautiful actress from Mumbai, is Catholic, I started to pray for her.
Last week, a neighbor loaned my family a DVD of Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Academy Awards in early 2009. Neither Greg nor I had seen this inspirational movie about an orphaned young man from the slums of Mumbai who competes in "Kaun Banega Crorepati?" the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" His love interest is another orphan from the slums of Mumbai, a girl named Lakita, played by the lovely Freida Pinto.
Once I watched this movie, it seems I was noticing her face everywhere; on L'Oréal advertisements, on magazine covers and just yesterday as the featured story in the New York Times' Style magazine. (shown above). I pray she will hold tight to her faith and the values in which she was raised as her modeling and acting careers continue to soar.
Freida was born in Mumbai in 1984 into a Mangalorean Catholic family. Mangalorean Catholics are an ethno-religious group on the southwestern coast of India, and their descendants. Portuguese missionaries converted that part of India in the 16th century. I wrote about that corner of India in a post about St. Thomas.
Freida's father, Frederick, is a bank manager and her mother, Sylvia, is principal at St. John's Universal High School. She has an older sister, Sharon, a news producer. Freida's entire educational career was spent in Catholic schools. She graduated from St. Xavier's College, a Jesuit college in Mumbai, with a degree in English literature. She is 25 now, and lives with her parents in Mumbai. Her boyfriend is her Slumdog costar Dev Patel, five years her junior. He is an Englishman of Gujarati origin who was raised Hindu. I haven't been able to find out much about Freida's faith. I was happy to read she turned down an opportunity to appear in a Bollywood film because, she said, she was asked to appear nude in a sex scene. Will she keep those standards as she signs contracts with American directors? I hope so.
I don't want to hold this lovely lady out as a role model for Catholic girls or anyone else. That is too much of a burden for anyone to bear, especially someone so young. I understand many of us stumbled on our paths to adulthood. But I pray, for her own sake, that Freida will hold fast to her faith.
Freida's alma mater, the all-girls' Carmel of St. Joseph high school, posts this vision statement on its website:
Carmel of St. Joseph is committed to offer a life-oriented education that is humanizing and liberating, enabling the students to be socially conscious and justice-oriented. Empowerment of the poor and the marginalized will be a priority, and respect for God’s creation will be fostered. The thrust is in the light of a ‘civilization of love’ – the Kingdom of God as envisaged and promoted by the Foundress, Mother Teresa of St. Rose of Lima.
I pray Freida's vision stays true to this one. May her faith comfort and guide her as she navigates the heady world of glamor, riches and fame.