Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan actress Pooja Hegde on what determines her merit as an actor
The Indian actress will next be seen with Mahesh Babu in the Telugu film, SSMB 28
For Pooja Hegde, the box office doesn’t determine her merit as an actor. Even though her Bollywood career hasn’t seen much success in terms of numbers, she continues to land big-banner projects. After debuting with Ashutosh Gowarikor’s Mohenjo Daro opposite Hrithik Roshan in 2016, and featuring alongside Ranveer Singh in Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus last year, her latest is Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan with Salman Khan.
Directed by Farhad Samji, it is a remake of the Tamil film, Veeram, and crossed the `100 crore mark in its first weekend. Hegde, who plays Khan’s love interest in the film, calls his sets spontaneous. “I went with a lot of preparation on the first day but realised it wasn’t needed. I was also initially intimidated, but found him to be warm and carefree.”
Despite the flops, it’s the admiration and support of her fans that keep the actor going. “I see them invest time and money on my films. That makes me work hard on every project,” says the 32-year-old, adding, “I feel upset when a film doesn’t work, but I don’t think a good film and box office numbers are related. For instance, Andaz Apna Apna’s collections were not great, but today it’s a cult classic. Silsila, for instance, was way ahead of its times. As artistes, if we don’t fail, how will we know what our best is?” She looks at every film, hit or flop, as a learning opportunity.
This is why, Hegde says although Cirkus flopped, she would do it again. “I enjoyed working with Rohit Shetty The film was a no-brainer, and I have no regrets about that,” she adds. The actor also recently shot an ad with Amitabh Bachchan, which was “overwhelming”. “What I like about him is the fact that he is so humble despite being a superstar.”
Having starred in over 15 Telugu and Tamil films, Hegde’s southern filmography is more diverse than its Hindi counterpart. She has delivered hits such as Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava, Maharshi, Gaddalakonda Ganesh, Most Eligible Bachelor and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, and worked with stars such as Jr NTR, Prabhas, Mahesh Babu and Allu Arjun. According to the actor, her strength lies in her adaptability, allowing her to easily straddle industries. “I am like a sponge, and try to absorb as much as possible from everyone around me, be it actors or directors. For instance, during Cirkus, I realised that Ranveer (Singh) is a good observer, and I tried to imbibe that. On the sets of Beast, I saw how Vijay Thalapathy remained calm and composed despite all the chaos around him,” she says.
Hegde, who was was crowned the second runner-up in the Miss Universe India 2010, has come a long way in the last decade. In 2022, she represented Indian cinema at the 75th Cannes Film Festival. “Growing up, I was a shy girl with stage fright. But I guess my journey from Miss India to being a pan-Indian star has been great. I am proud to carry the Indian sash in some form or the other,” she says. The actor will be next seen alongside Mahesh Babu in the Telugu film, SSMB 28.