With the impressive rags-to-riches underdog story of Slumdog Millionaire finally etched in Oscar’s history books, attention can now turn to what’s next for the film’s two breakout stars, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto. It’s no secret the success of Slumdog Millionaire — eight Oscars and nearly $100 million and counting at the box office — and the glow from the awards season spotlight has been good for their careers. Patel nabbed Jesse McCartney’s role in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, and now it looks like Pinto has landed a juicy role of her own: She’ll be costarring with Josh Brolin and Anthony Hopkins in Woody Allen’s next film. (Not the one with Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, called Whatever Works, which is due this summer.) The role is a major coup for Pinto, considering Allen has directed many actors to Oscar glory, with Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s Penélope Cruz being the latest example.
Both actors made their feature film debut in Slumdog Millionaire, so to have follow-up projects as high-profile as these definitely bodes well for each of them. But I have a feeling Pinto may emerge with the better career –- she’s been absolutely stunning on every red carpet, and will be working with a director who Cruz said in her acceptance speech has “written over all these years some of the greatest characters for women.” Pinto seems to be in much better hands than Patel (lest we forget that Shyamalan’s last film was, indeed, The Happening), even though Allen has been hit-or-miss this decade. But then, Patel is just 18 years old (Pinto is 24), and has been nothing but gracious and infectious in nearly every interview I’ve seen, particularly during this charming red carpet encounter with Anne Hathaway. And charm — on top of acting chops — certainly goes a long way.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Who is destined for the better career –- Patel or Pinto (or, gasp, neither)? Or is it written that both will become big stars? And isn’t it about time actors of Indian descent achieve true megastardom?