Model, pageant winner, actor—while Pooja Hegde’s showbiz trajectory is praiseworthy, the plot to her success story is about to thicken
Pooja Hegde knows a thing or two about taking chances and she’s not one to hesitate when opportunity comes knocking—especially for the second time. Back in 2016, starring opposite Hrithik Roshan in Mohenjo Daro, the stage was magnificently set for her Bollywood launch. But her optimism for a grand premiere was thwarted by a lukewarm critical reception to the film’s release. “When your debut film doesn’t attract the kind of attention you hoped for, it’s upsetting. It’s harder still when you don’t have a background in films because people aren’t lining up to sign you for a second release,” she says. But Pooja isn’t one to backpedal. “My second film now holds greater value because it’s a second chance. I have a lot to prove with Housefull 4 (2019) and I’m certainly not going to hold back. I am confident of having what it takes to make it big and I know that I deserve to be here; so every day I let my passion motivate me to work harder,” she reveals.
This year, the starlet is set to tickle your funny bone as she joins the successful Housefull franchise in its fourth instalment. “This movie is going to be grander with its celebrated amounts of confusion,” she promises. Without revealing too much, she shares, “I feel like we’ve tapped into something that hasn’t been delved into before. It’s going to be paisa vasool entertainment.”
Headlined by an A-list ensemble cast, the film—loved for its narrative of comical errors and mix-ups—has made Pooja nervous. “You see, the genre of comedy is no mean feat and it is daunting to match the comic timing of Akshay Kumar and Riteish Deshmukh, who have been a part of this series since the beginning. We’ve got a wonderful ensemble of actors and to feature alongside them is a nerve-wracking yet gratifying experience,” she shares. Today, Pooja’s cinematic journey has taken on a decidedly ambitious direction. She’s looking forward to the release of a film—at the end of April—with Mahesh Babu, while preparing to begin working on a period love story with Prabhas.
OUTFIT: Jacket and bralet: Rajdeep Ranawat, Skirt: Anamika Khanna; ACCESSORIES: Kada (top most), ring (right hand): Jewels Of Jaipur, Earrings: Amaris Jewels By Prerna Rajpal, Gold bangles and green kada (center): Shobha Shringar Jewellers, Pink enamel kada (bottom) and ring used as toe ring: Rambhajo’s
Driving her career forward in Tollywood even as she breaks greater ground in Bollywood is demanding, but Pooja is up for the challenge. She’s been rewarded for her trials with success in the regional movie business. “Down south, I have a wonderful fan base and it’s a great compliment to my work that directors and producers want to re-cast me in their projects. The big projects come my way and I’m fortunate to have the option to accept a script or turn down an offer. Moreover, moviegoers in the south are loyal to their on-screen idols and to be on the receiving end of that adulation is rewarding. So even though the geographical logistics of working across industries can be a hassle, I’m not complaining. I love having this pan-India connect and I want to work at maintaining and entertaining both fan bases,” she shares.
OUTFIT: Manish Malhotra; ACCESSORIES: Rambhajo’s
While the movie biz down south may have given her the recognition, Bollywood remains just as close to her heart. “You see, I’ve grown up watching and falling in love with Hindi films, so I definitely want to build on my brand value here,” she discloses.
While naysayers caution her of the fierce competition coursing through Bollywood, as a pack of star kids claim their share in the spotlight, Pooja is convinced that her talent and dedication will give her the opportunity to earn her stripes. “I keep telling myself that God is my godfather,” she giggles, adding, “He is taking care of me because let’s face it, I am not connected to films. So when a project comes my way, I know that my talent and work ethic have helped me earn it. I’ve been raised to believe that what is meant for me will be mine to claim. I’m destiny’s child and someday a movie aspirant will look at my journey and think: if she can make it, so can I.”
OUTFIT: Anita Dongre; ACCESSORIES: Shobha Shringar Jewellers
Assessing the period between the last time we featured Pooja on our cover (2017) to this cover shoot, we find ourselves in the presence of a more confident and committed girl. “I guess now, I’m a lot more eager and gung-ho about my professional life,” she states.
With destiny on her side and banking on talent and hard work, Pooja is hitting the right notes in her unstoppable success story.
ACCESSORIES: Kada (top most), ring (right hand) and nath: Jewels of Jaipur, Earrings: Amaris Jewels By Prerna Rajpal, Gold bangles and green kada (center): Shobha Shringar Jewellers, Pink enamel kada (bottom): Rambhajo’s
Photographs: Arjun Mark, Styling: Lynn Lobo, Hair & Make-up: Daniel Bauer; Carpets: Jaipur Rugs; Cushions: India Circus by Krsnaa Mehta; Vaishnavipratima