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The struggle of an actress

Pooja Devariya has always had an artistic streak. Photo: Venket Ram, Clothing: Sydney Sladen

Pooja Devariya has always had an artistic streak. Photo: Venket Ram, Clothing: Sydney Sladen   | Photo Credit: Venket Ram

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Actor Pooja Devariya on the struggle that landed her the lead roles in her upcoming films

When Pooja Devariya met director Vetrimaaran for the first time, she told him, “I’m a good actor. Give me any role, and I’ll prove myself.” The director chuckled. “You look too young now,” he told the then 19-year-old; “you easily have another five years of struggle ahead of you — but don’t give up, for this journey would teach you a lot.”

After the prophesied five years, his words, she says, have now come true. Pooja has a slew of upcoming releases — Manikandan’s  Kutrame Thandanai, Karthik Subbaraj’s  IraiviAndhra MessVallavanukku Vallavan and a couple more in the pipeline. “Most actresses peak in their career when they are 26 to 29 years old. Hopefully, I’ll fit that stereotype too,” she smiles.

Pooja has always had an artistic streak — she’s a dancer, painter, an actor and a model. In 2010, after she joined Stray Factory, and was starring in the stage production Dirty Dancing, she was spotted by Gitanjali Raman, who offered her the role of Dhanush’s friend in the 2011 film,  Mayakkam Enna.

“I was very apprehensive about that role. It bothered me even during the shoot, and rightly so, because people brand you a character artiste.” Pooja had her eye set on the prize: she wanted to be the leading lady in her films. “Character roles are always of two types — heroine’s friend and hero’s sister. Invariably, it’s going to be your right shoulder that’s featured on the screen,” she laughs.

In the years that followed, apart from character roles, there were many more offers that came her way, and of these, Pooja has many tales to tell. She has been a part of long story narration sessions, at the end of which, the directors have asked for money, in exchange for casting her in the lead. She has helped directors shoot teasers, after they had promised her the lead role, only for them to give it to a more established actress after the film had been finalised. “There have also been calls from big production banners, offering big money. But, if anything more is required, you’ll have to make ‘adjustments’. At least they are being honest; if you refuse, they don’t call again.” She’d cry after these incidents, she says, wondering why despite her talent, she’d still not got a break. Eventually, she fell into depression; slept too much or too little, cried easily and took to anti-depressants. “My problem was work; looking for a job and constantly being rejected took its toll.”

So, last April, she moved to Mumbai to find her spirited self again. And sure enough, her luck changed. “Since the day I got there, I got calls from here.” She laughs saying that being based in Mumbai, brands her as a ‘Bombay model’, and that has its perks, when one wants to make a break in the Tamil film industry. Now, the ebullient actress is excited about her upcoming releases, and is happy about the films that are to mark her debut.

So how difficult is it to break into the industry? “I wouldn’t know; I still haven’t done it yet,” smiles Pooja, “There’s still a long road ahead.” There may be miles to go, but this young actor is full of smiles for having found her path.

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 9:06:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/actor-pooja-devariya-on-her-roles/article7883798.ece

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