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'We get pigeonholed into a particular role'

We remember him as the skinny Jamal from Danny Boyle’s Oscar-sweeping Slumdog Millionaire. But that was four years ago. Dev Patel recently celebrated his 22nd birthday and is already working in his fourth feature film.

While in Los Angeles, Dev engaged in an exclusive phone interview with HitList to discuss life as a travelling actor, challenges in Hollywood, sweetheart Freida Pinto and his upcoming film.

How has life changed post Slumdog Millionaire?
In a lot of ways, actually. For one, I’ve matured and have better clarity today than earlier. Also, I’m surrounding myself with artistes who define performance and that translates into personal growth of confidence.

Is there a certain amount of stereotype in the West when it comes to an actor of Indian origin?
Indeed. One can’t deny that. We automatically get pigeonholed into a particular role. But personally, I see that as a healthy obstacle. As an actor, I need to stop whining and challenge myself to break the mould.

Are you in touch with Danny Boyle?
We talk once in a while, yes. By the way, he’s currently busy with London Olympics.


Dev Patel with Judi Dench in his forthcoming film

Any plan to work with him again?
There’s nothing in the offing but I’d do it without blinking an eye. He’s one of the best directors of our times.

Freida (Pinto) is working with some really brilliant directors too...
Yes, she is and I’m glad for her. We’re talking about filmmakers here who are globally recognised as the trendsetters.

Since you’re both actors and travel much, how do you keep in touch?
I’m actually shooting a TV show in LA and so I’m getting to spend a lot of time with Freida. Otherwise, even when we
aren’t together, we’re constantly in touch over phone, skype and all.

Do you consult each other before signing up for a film?
As we are both passionate about cinema, we discuss and value each other’s opinion.

Can we expect a Bollywood film soon starring both of you?
I’m open to doing Hindi films as I grew up watching them. But to be candid, I haven’t got an interesting offer yet.

How was it working with the legendary Judi Dench in your upcoming film?
Absolutely amazing! I honestly don’t know what to say. She doesn’t exhibit any airs and lights up the ambience with her electric sense of humour.

How was the experience of shooting in India?
Well, actually, I regularly visit my ancestral home in Gujarat. For the film, the major part of the shooting took place in Rajasthan. It was hot like hell but no one was complaining.

Is it true you punched yourself in the groin while filming a love scene?
(Laughs) It’s a rumour. I did utter some words in jest but I didn’t do anything crazy of that sort.  

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