Categorized | Feature, Interviews

“Believe in Your Dreams”: Actress Pooja Kumar Makes Her Dreams Come True

Posted on 26 May 2010 by .

Growing up, I had always been under the impression that actresses and models were self-centered beings that co-existed with mere mortals only because they had to. However, a former Miss India USA, and an upcoming actress in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Anjaana  Anjaani, Pooja Kumar is anything but stuck up. And thus, I was quite unprepared for a friendly voice that greeted me at the other end of the line when I called her for our phone interview.

Thirty-three year old Kumar hails from an immigrant family with no connections in the film industry. Yet, she has managed to make a name for herself in a field few South Asians would willingly venture into. When asked why she chose acting, “of all things”, she laughs and answers, “I used to always play in musicals while growing up and Indian-Americans … were not inclined, motivated or inspired to go into the arts as a profession. It is sort of understood that entertainment is sort of unpredictable and our parents came here to have us have better opportunities… I understand their predicament for not gearing us to go into the entertainment field… so I set [acting] on the side and never thought of it as a full time profession.” However, it was the title of Miss India USA that brought her to the notice of Amitabh Bachchan Corp. Ltd. She managed to get chosen out of 60,000 contestants. However, she contends that despite her success, “[a]t that time the opportunities were opening up but it wasn’t full fledged available”.

But there is more to Kumar than what meets the eye. Kumar, whose parents hail from Utter Pradesh, speaks Hindi and Urdu at home. And yet, this fearless actress started her acting career with a Tamil movie (Kaadhal Rojave), a language that she has no knowledge of. How did she do it? “It’s really funny that you [ask this question]” Kumar answers, “they wrote the dialogues phonetically in English… But Tamil I can’t speak, or read, or write… it was difficult at first. I will tell you the biggest test of an actor is if you can act without knowing the language… It was very challenging… Basically, it was memorizing gibberish”. But she also adds that she has “a strong affiliation towards South India… [having] learnt Bharatnatyam in Chennai”.

But acting aside, Kumar has also been a VJ for Channel V in India. What made her leave her job? “I wanted a great experience in India and transcend and move over to the US. Over here, there is so few of us who are actually doing it professionally and on a full time basis…  I wanted to be one of the people to pioneer and get more people involved in the entertainment business. Five years ago… I took a risk and left a real good opportunity and came over here to encourage South Asians to write… and create more projects”.

Kumar has also donned the producer’s hat in the past with her two short films “1001 Auditions” and “Shoot My Life”. Did she feel more responsible because she was financially invested in them? “Producing a film is a whole other realm of film-making. As an actor, you learn your lines… as a producer you start the project from basically a piece of paper… you see the journey of this project all the way up to the screen. It’s almost like a baby. You see it from its birth and then you see it grow up. I am very much invested in all my projects… as an actor, not all of the things are in your hands… but as a producer… you can add so many different layers to [the project]… it’s a whole other level of investment. Financial, emotional or artistic.”

And Anjaana Anjaani? Have you started working for it already? “Yes” she pauses tentatively and adds, “We are not supposed to talk too much about it because its releasing pretty soon”. Having read about Nadiadwala’s strict instructions to his stars to not tweet about the upcoming movie, I was well aware of this fact. To avoid putting Kumar under duress, I asked instead, how was it working with Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor? “I really admire Priyanka. I think Priyanka and Ranbir are probably the two of the most finest actors in Bollywood to work with right now… I was very lucky to work with a woman like that. She is extremely hardworking and very talented, She knows exactly what her role is and how to handle it in many situations… she has a versatility about her”.

And what about the future? Kumar has her hands full with two scripts and a play. She says, “One [script] is from Bollywood and one is from Hollywood… I am producing a play later on this year, but you have to just wait and see”.

We concluded the interview with her personal mantra: “Always follow and believe in your dreams and your dreams will come true”.

By Sanchari Sur

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