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Pooja Hegde

With half a dozen films, opposite actors with larger than life personas, under her belt…Pooja Hegde is surely the flavour of the month! In a short career span she can boast of a very impressive filmography along with fans across Tamil, Telugu and Hindu film industries. She also recently started her foundation ‘All About Love’, through which she has been touching the lives of so many people across the country. FACE’s Managing Editor, Neha Sachar Mittal caught up with the actor to talk about her journey so far and beyond. 

1. Let’s begin with “All About Love”, tell us about your foundation and its inception?

With All About Love, I think I always wanted to give back. As a kid I watched  Ellen DeGeneres do it and Oprah Winfrey do it. I always looked at the shows and felt “Wow, it must be so nice to be able to make somebody that happy”. I think that kind of stayed with me which is why I started All About Love. The name came about because love is the strongest emotion out there and any act done out of love can really go a long way. I think I am going to encourage people to give back. We all think we will give back when we make a lot of money but when do you make enough money? Even if you are donating Rs. 100/- or any amount, that can really change someone’s life somewhere. I feel that inculcating this culture of giving back is very important. Let’s say, I am donating a certain percentage of my income for the charity. I just feel like there is great power in that. As a foundation, we have done a lot of work, during Covid, for education and covering medical bills, etc.

2. Since your debut you have worked with some really big stars and yet held your own…how do you do that? Isn’t it very easy to get carried away by the nature of the project or the director or the actor and compromise on the quality of your role? 

Well I mean thank you, I think it’s important to get carried away with the nature of the project sometimes. I think it’s very important to understand what kind of film you are in. If the film is an out-and-out slapstick comedy you have to act that way. There’s a certain way of acting in a slapstick film and there’s a certain way of acting in a very realistic cinema/ project. I think you have to kind of understand what film you are doing, what genre it is, what the audience is and act according to that. I have always worked with directors who have never compromised on the quality and as an actor, I am most critical about my work. If I feel I need another take I always request the director and 9 out of 10 times the director has always said yes to me. Sometimes I have bought into what the director is saying with respect to why the take is okay. It all depends on the director. I think it’s very important to not get intimidated and be really honest with your work and that’s what propels you ahead and makes sure that you stand your own.

3. You have made your mark in both Bollywood as well as regional cinema…is it tough sailing in both the boats or is it empowering to be able to choose?

I don’t think it’s an either-or situation for this. is it tough? Well, it’s a challenge because balancing schedules, jumping from one character to another character even if it is the same genre and the same kind of character, a city girl in Hyderabad would react very differently to situations as compared to a city girl in Bombay. I think to be able to understand the cultures that I am coming from, the place that I am working at while portraying the girl a little more honestly is a challenge. Of course, it helps when you are a workaholic and you get less sleep; you are okay with it because the work keeps you excited. So yes, it’s a challenge that I personally love. It’s something that I accept. But also it has definitely been empowering because I feel like having done so well in the South and Telugu cinema has given me the power to be able to pick the work that I want to do. I owe a lot to the industry for that. They have given me love and respect and contributed to my career in such a drastic way.

4. The film ‘Beast’ is where it all began… do you feel a sense of homecoming? 

Tamil cinema is where it began. My first film ever was in Tamil and I am really really excited to go back to it. I kind of waited for something really good in Tamil and which is why I never did anything for a long time. It’s a fantastic film to be a part of because it’s a really fun cast and crew and I am very very excited about that project.

5. From doing period films like Mohenjodaro, Radhe Shyam, Acharya to playing a stand-up comedian in Most Eligible Bachelor, what’s your process to choose and prepare for a role? 

  I think my process of choosing the role is what excites me. I really go by my gut feeling. With Most Eligible Bachelor that’s what it was, I was really excited about playing a stand-up comedian because it was so new and fresh for me. The girl’s character was so well chalked out; she had so many layers and that was something that really got me excited about the project. When it comes to Radhe Shyam, I hadn’t really done such a love story before, it was a really mature love story. The story was beautiful which is why I wanted to be part of it and the girl again had a great role. With Acharya, it was the character of a village girl, which is so drastically different from the other roles that I have played which is why I was like, “Let’s do it, let’s be a part of this, people will see a new Pooja”. I think that is something that keeps me going; it’s what makes me juggle all these films and still be excited about it because my work is different and that’s something that I look forward to while selecting my scripts. Period films and I go hand in hand, I feel lucky for that. Most actresses go their entire career without one, and I have done so many so it’s great because you can really put yourself in an era. It’s a chance that not many people get and I am really blessed to be able to do that. The process, yes, there has been one for every film. For Most Eligible Bachelor, I kind of spoke to many stand-up comedians, when I spoke to them I learnt about how they hold the mic how they use it. I learnt about punch lines and building up to a joke. That was my process to that and as far as Radhe Shyam goes, I’ll talk about it when the film releases or closer to that.

6. You would soon be seen Opposite Ranveer in Rohit Shetty’s ‘Cirkus’. How was the experience of working on this film? 

Cirkus has been an absolute blast because you have two dynamic duos with Rohit Sir and Ranveer. It felt like we were all having a get-together and in the middle, we used to shoot the film because it was so much fun, I think somewhere that fun is definitely going to translate on-screen. It’s just been like a holiday. 

7. We recently saw your picture on social media with the legend Amitabh Bachchan…. Is something big in the pipeline? Do spill the beans? 

Well, it has been my dream to work with him. He is a legend and as a kid, I have grown up watching all his films and then when you become an actor the first thing you want to do is be able to share screen space with him. I can’t talk about what it is, but I have to say that, I was just over the moon about being able to shoot with him. I am very excited about it.

8. We are very excited about “Kabhi Eid, Kabhi Diwali” … have you started shooting for it? How is it working with the ultimate ‘Bhaijaan’

Well, I haven’t started shooting, I am very excited about Bhaijaan. I am looking forward to starting the film. It’s going to be one epic fun film and more about the film when I start shooting for it.

9. These days social media has become such an important part of an actor’s life. How do you decide what you want to put out there for your millions of fans and how do you deal with trolls?

I think social media has definitely become very important. I am trying to stay as honest as possible. What I am is what I am going to put out there. There’s already so much negativity out there so I think my Instagram is always going to be as positive as possible. I feel like I have the power to influence people and I want to ensure whenever I do influence them, it’s in a positive way. I just put out fun, happy stuff and things that inspire me. As far as dealing with trolls, I have realised beyond a point you can never make them happy. Somebody has taken out a few seconds of your life to troll you, you must really be important to them, important enough for them to spend energy from their precious life to troll you. I just take it with a pinch of salt and laugh it off. Sometimes I don’t even bother reading what the trolls have to say.

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