The Slumdog Millionaire actress said celebrating the festive season in a warm climate meant she had to find seasonal cheer in classic holiday films and songs, and she always dreamed of being part of one.
She now stars opposite Game Of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon in romantic comedy A Christmas Number One, about a music manager who meets a thrash metal musician attempting to write the ultimate Christmas song.
Pinto told the PA news agency: “I grew up in India, so I had no snow growing up, so for me from childhood was all about building festivity through the things that I watched and the songs that I heard and the music that was played.”
She added: “You kind of want to make sure that the kind of joy that we felt on set and the fun that we had on set is also felt by the audience members.
“I guess another reason why I’ve always wanted to be part of a Christmas movie is because I grew up in India with just an idea of what Christmas should feel like, as opposed to us really feeling cold and chilly and having a fireplace or any of that, it was just hot in December.”
However, Rheon said trying to feel festive while they shot the film at the height of summer did bring challenges.
He said: “The snow machine was was very, very strange.
“But that kind of weirdly messes with your head, you think when you see snow you associate winter, but it was very warm.
“And then we did a day with the rain machine and thankfully we weren’t filming in December weather because that would have been horrific.
“I was just very, very hot for the longest time running around wearing a Christmas jumper and coat in July.”
Rheon, who is best known for his role as evil Ramsay Bolton in Game Of Thrones, said he hopes taking part in a romantic comedy helps people see him in a different light.
He said: “I think it’s nice. I just don’t want to be playing those parts for all my life. So yeah, I’ve spent the last few years trying to pick and do something different.
“It’s nice to play a character that’s really, really nice. I mean, he can be a bit of a plonker but he’s certainly not dangerous.”
Pinto said she hopes the film will provide welcome relief for audiences looking for some distraction after a challenging year.
She said: “I still love my dramas and my hard-hitting movies and I still watch them. I just feel like in terms of the volume of how much I used to watch them before to now has completely changed.
“I think it’s either the situation around us and circumstances or maybe a phase in my life, I don’t know, but I think we’re naturally reaching out for something that is just a bit lighter.
“There’s no given day that we’ve opened the newspapers or read the news online and it’s just been cheerful news from beginning to end.
“Even cheerful moments are then plagued with something dark and sad. And so I think to just go into something completely, completely uplifting is a very beautiful experience at this time.”
A Christmas Number One will be available on Sky Cinema and Now from December 10.