Actor Dev Patel was left stunned after famed photographer Mario Testino confronted him about his relationship with Indian beauty Freida Pinto at the beginning of their romance.

The Slumdog Millionaire star met Pinto on the set of their Oscar-winning film in 2008 and they began dating a year later, but there were some who weren't convinced the unlikely couple should be together.

In an interview with U.K.'s The Guardian, Patel recalls, "I remember going to this one Burberry show, and it was exciting. They've always been very kind to me and, even as a gangly guy, I felt I was rocking their suits.

"So when I was invited to one of the fashion shows in London, I went. Even though I had this preconceived notion - 'I'm not going to fit in with this crowd, it's going to be intimidating.' I was sitting there, and this fellow (Testino) says, 'Are you the one dating Freida Pinto?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, I guess.'

"And then he says: 'Why? How? Why is she dating you? She's so beautiful.' And I say, 'Yeah. She is!' And then he says: 'But you're so, ugh, so normal-looking.'"

Patel and Pinto split last year (14) but he insists rumours they forged a romantic relationship to promote their careers are untrue, adding, "That would be a really long game for a horny 17 year old to play. There's not even any point me trying to clarify or justify it, because then you give those silly headlines power. And they mean nothing. I never read gossip because it doesn't matter to me...

"We are incredibly close. She's just a really generous, patient human being who has been one of the most impactful people on my life. A lot of my motivation has come from her, from being with her and knowing her."