Picture of confidence

model-turned-actorPooja Hegde  

From a shy, reticent girl to an outgoing, cheerful person, Pooja Hegde’s transformation has been the result of her conscious decision to change. The actor, who plays the lead in the upcoming Mugamoodi, confesses she was even scared to go on stage to perform before an audience while in school. The runner-up at the Miss India (Universe) contest in 2010 says her transformation happened during the time she spent helping her mother run her e-commerce business.

“I was an average student who seldom spoke even to her peers. It was while helping my mom that I realised it was okay to fail, but what was more important was the willingness to try,” recalls Pooja.

That was the spark Pooja needed. She then made it a point to enrol for every intercollegiate competition she came across while pursuing her degree in commerce.

“There were times when I failed in contests. On one occasion, I registered myself for a college dance competition, went up on stage and forgot my steps, making a fool of myself. But then, I was content that I had at least made an attempt.” Today, the youngster, who used the lesson to good effect to become a successful model, has chosen to turn actor with Mysskin’s Mugamoodi . But what made her pick this role while turning down over a dozen offers from big banners? Says Pooja, who hails from Udupi but is settled in Mumbai: “Acting was never part of my plan. I’m someone who goes with the flow. I follow my instinct. For some strange reason, I felt like saying yes to this project. Everything about it seemed perfect. In a way, it looked like God had planned this for me. If I hadn’t taken this up, I would have opted for a fashion degree or pursued photography or business.”

It is evident that Pooja has enjoyed acting in the movie, which has Jiiva in the lead and Narain playing the baddie. Ask her to compare and contrast her co-stars, and she smiles, “Jiiva is fun-loving, while Narain is serious. Jiiva turns serious while shooting. Narain is someone you can have wonderful conversations with. Both are completely different, but the one quality they share is they are both helpful. I play Shakthi, the hero’s love interest. Both of them, along with Mysskin, helped me do a great job.”

There have been reports that she plays a TV journalist. “That’s not true. My profession is not disclosed at all. Shakthi is a person who thinks the world is hers. An interesting character, I was able to relate to it in many ways,” says Pooja, who is all praise for director Mysskin.

“He knows his characters so well and communicates his expectations so clearly that it becomes easy for an artiste to essay any role,” she says.

Ask her to pick one thing about Mysskin that she’d like him to change. “Hmmm, I want him to take off his glasses. I asked him why he wore them, and he said, ‘I wear them so that people do not know where I am looking’,” she signs off with a laugh.

k. r. manigandan