Pooja Hegde made her Cannes Film Festival debut this year. The actor talks about how she’s coped with the underperformance of her films Beast, Radhe Shyam and Acharya, staying positive, and the craze around ‘Arabic Kuthu’.
In the last few months, you’ve had some massive releases like Beast or Radhe Shyam or Acharya that have underperformed. These are big-budget movies with big superstars. When something like that happens, do you start to doubt your own creative instincts? How do you power through things not working out?
I think it’s part of the game. I have had six back-to-back blockbuster films and I’m so grateful for that because that’s so rare to have. Six of my films in a row have done phenomenally well. Every film has its own destiny. If I start taking my blockbuster hits seriously, then I’m going to have to take the ones that don’t do well seriously. Do I doubt my instincts? No, not at all. I know why I did each film. I did Radhe Shyam because it was a meaty role, it was something I knew I would be able to perform. I hope filmmakers across the world saw it and thought: Okay, she was good in the film. Maybe with a good director, we could use her in a certain way. We’ve seen her dance, we’ve seen her being glam, but was she real when she was supposed to be? Did she do one scene truthfully? I hope that happens. I did that film because I was getting the opportunity to play a role that was interesting for the woman in a commercial film.
I had a cameo in Acharya. I loved my role. I played a Telugu village girl. It was a non-glamourous part and I had no makeup on. I had oil in my hair, two braids and that was exciting. The character was naughty, she was fun.
Beast was so much fun to shoot. I think Nelson is such a good director – I loved Doctor. He’s amazing and has such a unique voice and I would love to work with him again. The song ‘Arabic Kuthu’ gave me so much. It made little children come up to me and they’d say they loved it. At the end of the day, we’re entertainers. I like bringing a smile to people’s faces. I like when they put on my music and dance. Even people in Africa were doing it! I was watching all these reels. That’s the power of music.
So you inherently take the good from it and power through.
Yes, my mom has always been like that. I come from a line of strong women. Sometimes, I look back and wonder about what could I have done differently, but at that moment, every decision was the right decision for me to take. Mohenjo Daro was a great film on paper. It had Hrithik Roshan and Ashutosh Gowariker.
You couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
I don’t sit at the edit table, I am just the actor. As long as I am giving my best to the film, that’s what matters to me. I’m glad the reviews of my performance in Radhe Shyam, in terms of what I could give to the film, were good.