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Updated: January 4, 2010 20:23 IST

On highway to heaven

Madhur Tankha
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Pooja Kumar
Pooja Kumar

Unlike her contemporaries, American actor of Indian origin Pooja Kumar is in no hurry to sign Bollywood films. She is already doing English films and feels there is a market for these off-beat movies not only among the Indian diaspora but also among Americans and Europeans.

After Pooja won the Miss India US, the Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited selected her as one of the budding new stars out of “60,000 contestants”. Pooja was “lucky” to hone her acting skills at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.

Pooja, who has acted in over ten feature films, done numerous television shows, and has also been part of major advertisement campaigns, is proud of her Indo-American venture “Flavors”. “The film has four different stories revolving around one restaurant in America. I was given the role of a chemical engineer. Though I studied political science and finance, playing Rachna, an engineer, came easy to me as my father is an engineer and my thinking is very much on those lines. So the character of an Indian settled in the US is very close to me in real life. The film is about the young generation Indians.”

Pooja says “Flavors” is a romantic comedy and she is playing a romantic person. “Reef Karim, an Indian settled in the US, is playing the male lead.”

Pooja, who came to attend the ongoing Pravasi Film Festival at India Habitat Centre here on Monday, admits that it is was difficult to find distributors for films made by non-resident Indians. “But you mustn’t forget that it took Meera Nair 20 long years to establish herself. After ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won the Oscars and became a rage across the globe, there is a ray of hope for Indian filmmakers abroad.”

Even though Pooja has been living abroad, she has been keeping in touch with her homeland by yearly visits. “I have learnt Kathak from Om Prakash Mishra in Allahabad and also improved my Bharatanatyam under Adhiyar Lakshman from Chennai.”

Her other films include: “Kaadhal Rojave,” “Night of Henna”, “Chota Jaadugar”, “Hiding Divya”, “Bollywood Beats”, “Anything for You”, “Knots Urbane”, “Park Sharks” and “Drawing with Chalk”.

In the three-part television series “Bollywood Heroes”, Pooja is acting opposite the famous American comedian , Chris Kattan. “In the project premiered on the IFC network, Keanu Reeves has done a special appearance and so has Bollywood’s Neha Dhupia. The show has got rave reviews in Variety magazine and was well advertised in New York buses.”

Pooja has hosted a show for Zee TV “Jaago aur Jeeto” a live program for two hours everyday. Her Pakistani soap operas for Geo TV and Hum TV have been widely appreciated.

The young actor has also produced and starred in two short films -- “1001 Auditions” and “Shoot my Life” -- that have been screened in over 15 international film festivals.

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