Pooja Chopra won the Miss India contest in 2009. In 2013, she made her big Bollywood debut in Commando: A One Man Army. After that, she appeared in a slew of forgettable films. Currently, Pooja is back in the limelight as the actress has bagged the lead role in Jeevan Bheema Yojna and she has given away her salary from Aiyaary for the betterment of women in society. The Free Press Journal met Pooja for an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
How did the idea of working towards women come to you?
You are never too tired or busy to help someone. It only fills you with more joy and energy. It is not that very difficult to manage. For me, it stems from my personal experience. My mother single-handedly raised me. We were completely abandoned by my father, who then served the Indian Navy as a Captain because he never wanted a girl child. We were driven away from his house. It’s a personal fight. Patriarchy is a harsh reality and it still prevails.
My mother’s mother-in-law too didn’t approve of it. She chose not to take a stand. I was born in Kolkata since my father was posted there and then stayed in Mumbai at my granny’s house for about a couple of years and then we moved to Pune. While I was in Mumbai. I participated in Miss India. My father would have never let me pursue my dreams.
Soon after, you ended up in a male-dominated film industry. How did you manage then?
My fight started just after I was born. I looked up to my mother in every possible way. She fought a lot in society. She is 68 and a fiercely independent working woman. I never mind a fight in an industry like this. It has a positive connotation to it also. If I can win Miss India while sticking to my roots, if not 10 good films, but I have had three films with great filmmakers.
Were you taken aback in any form back then?
I never experienced first hand male domination in the film industry. I was never shown a door just because I am a girl. I was welcomed since I had some credibility being a Miss India. I auditioned and grabbed the roles. However, I lacked guidance and exposure of a filmy background. I felt lost so it took me a little more time to figure out things. And when you come from a very principled household, things become even more difficult.
Does that affect your choices of films?
I don’t have regrets since it was about my choices. They all were very well thought decisions. My mother told me to complete my graduation and then do whatever I want to. Other than that, she has always been supportive of me. I only felt disappointed when I had no work after my big debut Commando. I didn’t know whom to go to. But, I don’t know how to do basic compromise.
Tell us something about your upcoming film Jeevan Bheema Yojna.
I can’t talk much about it but I am very fortunate to work with great actors like Vijay Raaz and Arshad Warsi. It is a family comedy helmed by Abhishek Dogra, which I have never done before. The madness on the sets while shooting for it is crazy. I must say, Arshad is a prankster. I have also signed another project but I am still waiting for the producers to announce it.
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