Martial artist Pooja Bhalekar is all set to make her Bollywood debut with Ram Gopal Varma’s Ladki Dragon Girl. The Free Press Journal caught up with the newbie for an exclusive tête-à-tête. Excerpts:
Have you learnt acting?
No, I don’t have any acting background. When I met RGV sir, I was completely raw. I have never faced cameras before this. I used to perform during Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra. I also performed on stage as a kid wearing kashtha.
You have worn two pieces in the entire film. How difficult and comfortable were you?
Ramu sir didn’t have to convince me or brainwash me. He had this idea that no one has done such a role in a bikini. Every heroine comes out of the water, walks a couple of steps and gives a pose. We want you to do something very unique, and it will be memorable. So we wanted to send a message whether you are wearing a bikini or a sari, in any scenario, you should be able to protect yourself. I am on the beach in the film, so I have to wear a bikini.
Tollywood and Bollywood makers will offer you bolder scripts, thinking if you can wear a bikini, you can do anything. What will be your take on your limitations? Are you open to doing intimate scenes?
I think it’s pretty much normal now. In many Hollywood series and other languages, doing a bedroom sequence is pretty much normal. It should be shot esthetically. I am not comfortable doing any nude scenes or vulgar scenes, etc. But if bedroom scenes are shot aesthetically, I will not have any problem.
What were the reactions of your parents watching you in a bikini?
They were slightly shocked when I was going to join films. It is a different side as I am a martial artist. They were of the opinion that I should take up some government job. And lead a simple life. But I chose this dramatic side. It was difficult for them to digest, but they never opposed me.
What inspired you to take martial arts?
Initially, I started learning yoga and then I started learning athletic activities like 100 m running and long/high jump. But one day, I saw a couple of kids performing martial arts wearing uniforms, so I went ahead and asked, ‘What is this?’ Then I came to know it is Taekwondo. I was merely eight years old then. I have invested 14 years in martial arts.
When you went to China, what were your reactions?
I was literally crying. It was a beautiful journey, and so many things happened. There were so many ups and downs. Finally, going to China to Bruce Lee’s hometown, standing under his statue, I couldn’t believe I was standing there. It was an emotional moment, and Ramu sir also was very emotional. I want to travel all over the world. It’s very exciting to travel.
Did you always want to do acting?
That credit goes to my mom. When I was in class six, she would pick me up, and we both would go to watch films. Some people might call it bad parenting, but I loved it.