Tena Desae is no Freida Pinto

Tena Desae

Comparisons with her predecessor haven't deterred India's new Hollywood export, who is sure of carving her own identity

Ever since Freida Pinto made the big cut (read Hollywood), every young aspirant trying to make a mark in this unfamiliar territory has been equated to her. Ditto is the case with Mumbai-based actress Tena Desae. Her impressive performance in John Madden-directed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel may have won her rave reviews, but then the world wants to know if she is another Pinto in the making.

"I don't think they mean it in bad sense when they say that, because Freida has achieved a lot and kind of set a benchmark. But then one wants to create their own identity and that's what I am striving for," says Desae, who will be seen opposite Dev Patel in the forthcoming film.

The film, releasing in India on May 4, is about a bunch of Britishers who come to India to spend their retirement years at an exotic hotel. Even after they find out it is not exotic, they stay on and experience India. Desae, however, keeps her character under wraps. "I can only tell you that I play a comic role," she smiles.

Desae is a familiar face on Indian television, thanks to the number of commercials she has done. She has also worked with three Khans — Aamir, Shah Rukh and Saif — as far as advertisements are concerned. Yet, when she came to Mumbai from Bangalore in 2006 after being selected for Channel V's Get Gorgeous, she wasn't inclined only towards modelling.

"I knew I wanted to act. That's the reason I went for four to five auditions a day." Eventually, her perseverance paid off when she was chosen to play a very intense role in her first film, Yeh Faasley (2011). Incidentally, all the acting she learned also happened on the sets of her first film. "I wasn't a trained actor when I gave auditions. But on the sets of Yeh Faasley, it was Anupam Kher who took me under his wings and made sure I emoted right," she says. Post this, she signed her second film Sahi Dhande Galat Bandhe. However, getting her way in Bollywood wasn't easy still and her round of auditions continued.

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