The universe conspired to make this self-confessed tomboy, MOHENJO DARO’s Chosen One! Gorgeous debutante, Pooja Hegde shares her joy and fears with Shubarna Mukerji Shu.
It doesn’t get bigger than MOHENJO DARO, what are you feeling right now?
First film is like the audition to the world. No one turns around and says, ‘For her first film she has done well!’ You either get it or you don’t. Currently, I am very nervous; I am not feeling the pressure yet because I have put my faith in Ashu sir (Ashutosh Gowariker). He doesn’t settle for mediocrity, he is someone who will ensure he gets the best out of you. Of course, he gave me lots of time, Hrithik too was very understanding. Now it is upon you, the media to make or break it for me.
Weren’t you overawed by everything that was around you?
I cannot explain what I was feeling the first day that I was there. Of course, I was awed by the kind of detailing that went into; it was amazing. It took me one day to just walk through MOHENJO DARO… the sets were so beautifully detailed. If there was a torch, the walls around it were blackened because of course, there had to be soot if the torch had been used. The way the dolls were carved was unfinished, because in those days they didn’t have the kind of tools to smoothen it. The best part is that the sets, which awed me so much, look even more beautiful onscreen. Everything is amplified and made so grand.
I cannot get over the part where you said ‘walked through MOHENJO DARO’ …Who does that? How did you relate to this whole era?
You said it – who does that?! People might have visited the excavated ruins of MohenjoDaro, but no one has seen it in all its glory. Brick for brick, it has been recreated for the film. I truly felt like I was among the chosen few to have been able to walk the bazaars they created.
However, though the film and the sets put you in that zone, my character Chani is very relatable. She is actually very childlike by nature but because there is this prophecy about her, that she will bring about the change in MOHENJO DARO, she has to behave in a certain manner. The ‘Nav Lokini’ as she is called, doesn’t have the freedom to just be herself, but when she is with Sarman, she is relaxed, childlike. The thing I keep saying is that the basic emotion is that of love, no matter your age you will always behave the same way in love. Women will want to check if they are looking good, men would walk a little straighter… that’s just human tendencies. So even if the film is set in the prehistoric times, love and other emotions have not really changed since… the film is very relatable in that sense.
So you didn’t need any prep-time?
The first thing that Ashu sir said to me was that I was Chani, just the way I am, so those elements were taken care of, when it comes to mannerisms. But of course, I really had to work on my body a lot. Did you see the kind of clothes I was wearing for the unveiling? There are so many slits and I had to ensure that I looked good in it. So I made sure I was body-perfect.
Physically the prep was exhausting; imagine it used to take me half an hour to only wear the costume because it was sewed onto me. Don’t even get me started about the headdress. It was so heavy…
Of course, then there was the language. I mean, I couldn’t speak Bambaiya Hindi out there, right? Worse, I couldn’t even switch words in a sentence because it would not sound old enough. That was really tough. Imagine words like ‘NavLokini’… it took me so long to figure what my name was in the film!
And of course there was this thing about working alongside Hrithik Roshan, how was that?
I have always loved Hrithik Roshan. When KAHO NA PYAR HAI had released, I was at my cousin’s place and I remember her saying there was this new guy, who was damn hot. She pulled out this poster and I was like, ‘Who.Is.This.’ From then on I had been clued in…
Later during KOI MIL GAYA, we had managed to get some passes for some event where he was to come. Since there were no camera phones then, I remember carrying my camera along, but I never managed to get a photograph with him. He just came and he left… I was so upset and so sad that day… Sometimes, I really want to go back to that little girl and tell her, ‘Don’t worry, one day you will have an entire film with Hrithik Roshan. You’ll be good!’ I willed it, I really made it happen. I want to believe that so much!