Freida Pinto might just hit a career high with this new project that she has signed both as an actor and a producer.
The Indian actress is set to headline the series adaptation of former Indian American U.S. Marine Captain Anuradha Bhagwati’s memoir, “Unbecoming: A Story of Disobedience.”
The book, published in March, chronicles Bhagwati’s journey from being the dutiful daughter of immigrants to becoming a radical activist effecting historic policy reform.
Bhagwati quit graduate school to join the Marines but once there, her “G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured.” As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, and sexual violence.
Once her service concludes in 2004, Bhagwati, according to the book’s description, “courageously vows to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines.”
Bhagwati founded the Service Women’s Action Network, which brought national attention to sexual violence in the military and helped overturn the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.
Reacting to the announcement, Bhagwati wrote on Twitter: “I’m so grateful to the Freida Pinto and eOne for believing in #Unbecoming and advancing the voices and stories of women of color, immigrant families, and queer women. I cannot wait to see Freida become a #Marine.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Pinto is teaming up with Entertainment One for the TV project. She will produce the limited series with Emily Verellen Strom via their Freebird Films, it reported, adding, Entertainment One will serve as the studio.
A search is on for a writer to adapt the series. An outlet hasn’t been locked in.
In its review of “Unbecoming,” the New York Times concluded: Bhagwati’s book stands out most as a chronicle of overcoming psychological trauma…The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit,” while an opinion piece in the Military Times stated: “Every person interested in how the military should recruit, train and retain women must read ‘Unbecoming.’ And every leader in the armed forces should pick up a copy to better understand how misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault hurt the all-volunteer force.”
Booklist called her fight both “incensing” and “inspiring,” and Barnes and Noble called the book “remarkable” and “radical” in all the best senses.
The Military Times piece, written by Jerri Bell, who retired from the Navy in 2008, notes that Bhagwati’s memoir takes swings at those she believes “exploit the victims of military sexual assault — journalists and filmmakers, veterans service organizations and elected officials.” She reserves her harshest criticism, she adds, for those she accuses of “betraying female victims they claim to represent while advancing their own agendas.”
In her piece titled, “The SWAN song of Marine veteran Anuradha Bhagwati,” Bell writes at the outset that in her memoir, Bhagwati “owns everything that happened to her and she’s willing to share it, unsparingly dissecting her service in the Marine Corps — and how she recovered from it.”
She goes on to write that Bhagwati’s voice is often “wry, witty, honest and profane” but it’s also a “powerful” and “angry voice,” which she says, “is perfectly pitched for speaking about the way the Corps repeatedly betrays its female Marines.”
Bhagwati uses it to sound off about “some of the nation’s most precious myths about men in uniform” and the “truths about sexual harassment and sexual assault, and the daily humiliations women had to suffer through in order to wear the uniform,” she adds.