“The second time I read the book, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m such an idiot!’ I’d never really thought of that,” Freida Pinto said on Tuesday at the New York premiere of “Trishna” at the IFC Center. The Michael Winterbottom-directed film is a reinterpretation of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” set in contemporary India.

“Now that I’ve read it a second time,” the actress, who plays the title character went on, “19th century England and 21st century India — so similar. Just modernization and how people are coping with it, people understanding education as a key to uplift from poverty, sexual double standards. I can give you so many comparisons.”

This story first appeared in the July 13, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The story centers on Pinto’s Trishna, a hotel maid from rural Rajasthan, as she explores issues of class, sexuality, and urbanization in one of the world’s most rapidly developing societies.

“Freida’s just the perfect match,” said designer Rachel Roy, whose label cosponsored the event with The Cinema Society and Circa. “I have a 12-year-old daughter, and when I first saw some of Freida’s work, I immediately brought her to see it. There are very few reflections in the world, at that level, that she can look at and see a reflection of herself.”

Roy cited extensive travels in India as part of the reason behind her involvement with the film. “It’s definitely a hard trip, being half-Indian and being someone who has a heart.…But what it does is push me to work harder and have a larger voice, so when I do speak, it actually matters to people,” she said.

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