Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Pinto perfects dancing for new film

Freida Pinto is working with choreographer Akram Khan on the new film

Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto is to head the cast of a new British film about Iranian teenagers who defy the authorities to stage a dance event in the desert.

The Bafta-nominated star is working with acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan, whose work featured in the Olympic opening ceremony at London 2012.

The movie, called Desert Dancer, is directed by Richard Raymond who is making his full-length debut.

The film is based on a true story about Iranian Afshin Gaffarian who taught himself to dance using YouTube, despite such activities being forbidden in his country. He and a group of others then planned a concert in the wilderness to avoid being caught.

Freida, 27, said she had no professional experience of dancing before she began rehearsals for the film, but there was a strong tradition in her native India.

"We love dancing in India anyway," she said at a press conference at London's Sadlers Wells Theatre today as plans for the film were announced.

She said rehearsals have had a huge impact on her life: "It's not just training for the film, it's training for life - dance has made me emotionally stronger as well, I deal with situations much better."

Reece Ritchie, whose roles have included TV drama White Heat and big budget film Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, will star as Gaffarian. Welsh actor Tom Cullen also has a leading role.

Akram said dance training had been tough. "It's been intense, it's eight hours a day, six days a week, for almost 12 to 14 weeks now. Even for a professional dancer it's a gruelling routine," he said.

Filming - due to take place in the UK, the Middle East and north Africa - begins next week, with the movie expected to be released next year.

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