‘Slumdog’ in Israel

By Nathan Burstein

Published March 25, 2009, issue of April 03, 2009.
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In a twist on the old maxim “Write Yiddish, cast British,” an Oscar-nominated director is thinking Palestinian, casting Indian.

Freida Pinto
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Freida Pinto

Freida Pinto, the female lead in “Slumdog Millionaire,” has arrived in Israel to film “Miral,” a drama in which the Mumbai native will play a Palestinian woman in the years after the Jewish state’s establishment. The role is Pinto’s first since her breakthrough in “Slumdog Millionaire,” which claimed eight awards at February’s Oscars and earned her a nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The actress is expected to stay in Israel for three months, Israeli entertainment magazine Pnai Plus reported, with filming set to begin after Passover.

Based on a book by Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal, “Miral” tells the real-life story of Hind Husseini, who founded an orphanage in Jerusalem after Israel’s War of Independence. The film is being adapted for the screen by Julian Schnabel, director of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and will also feature Hiam Abbass, an Arab-Israeli actress twice nominated for a European Film Award.

Pinto, 24, has signed on to star in Woody Allen’s next film, following the shoot for “Miral.”


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