'I prefer my company to cats from fools in life': Pooja Bhatt

'I prefer my company to cats from fools in life': Pooja Bhatt

My loved ones have given me the privilege to fall and strengthen myself and have the courage that you are not born with. Little choices you make that makes you as a person you are.

Lipika VarmaUpdated: Saturday, November 25, 2023, 08:01 PM IST
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Pooja Bhatt is not your typical Hindi film heroine. She loves to live life to the fullest, and possesses a wicked sense of humour. Whether on the record or out of it, conversations with her are always interesting. But when it is about interviews, she doesn't believe in mincing her words. As a terrific actor, Pooja has not only given box office hits but has always been praised for her acting and the roles she picks for herself. She has spoken about battling with alcoholism and now embracing sobriety. She smoothly made her comeback in films with Sadak 2 (2020) and then on OTT with Bombay Begums. The actor dared to play roles that had potential risk of being typecast as an actor. She was a mother to Ajay Devgn in Zakhm (1998) when she was in her 20s. The actor is once again playing a mother in Sanaa staring Radhika Madan as the protagonist. The Free Press Journal caught up with the actor at the ongoing 54th International Film Festival of India in Goa. Excerpts from the interview:

Looking at your work trajectory, there must be something interesting about your role in Sanaa than just a powerful character?

Sanaa film began with a phone call. I met Sudhanshu Saria at a dinner. I am a voracious reader. I read the script in one go. This is an extraordinary story. I was moved after reading it. I see my daughter in Sanaa. In fact, we need not limit it to a woman only. Men feel the loss too. Thus, I thought it’s so important to be a part of this journey and walk with people who have the audacity to be able to put it out there. It was putting my commitment to what I believed in life and wanted to put it in action. I decided that I will not allow anyone to do this role. You can make your presence by your silence; it's not the length of your role.

Why don't we see you more often on screens, since you are back after a long sabbatical?

I am selective. I prefer my company to cats from fools in life. I want to be on set with people who I love, respect, admire and will learn more from. I want to journey with people who are gracious and push limits to teach me more about myself who make me question my capacity. That doesn’t come around often. I have done Bombay Begums, Chupp, and Sanaa and all three have been unique. I wish more such parts come to me, so I can bring my worth and shine. I am not going anywhere soon. I am here.

Many actors choose to stay away from playing a mother on screen. But you played Ajay Devgn's mother in Zakhm, when you were in your 20s and won National Award as well.

Even then people told me you can’t play a mother but I was like why? People felt filmmakers would bracket me but I played the game by my rules. You don’t have to give birth to a child to play a mother. That’s the most wonderful role to play and understand what mother is. I think this mother is different from what I played in Zakhm.

How has your father (Mahesh Bhatt) influenced you in choosing roles and making like decisions?

He just told me 'Pooja, sing your song and go'. In this world nobody remembers anybody for too long. The golden words he said when one of my films was a disaster. A film release will be a monumental day for us but for others it would be just another day or another film. There will be people who would want the film to fail. This is the nature of the beast. We have been chosen by the medium and go out there in front of the camera is what my father taught me.

What aspects of your character in Sanaa you resonate with the most?

I remember as a child, I used to write letters to my mom in bad handwriting, when she used to send dabba to me in school. I posted it on mother’s day. When I was five years old my parents spoke to me openly, as I understood like an adult. I aspire to be somebody who is empathetic yet let my child walk and go though her dark night and find her own path. My loved ones have given me the privilege to fall and strengthen myself and have the courage that you are not born with. Little choices you make that makes you as a person you are. I aspire to be like Radha as a mom.

They say, an actor needs to experience it to perform it. Do you agree?-

I don’t think you have to be a mother to play a mother, just like you don't need to be a gay to play a gay, or be a woman to play a woman. I think these are myths. An actor needs to walk in another character's shoe.

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