Pooja Bedi's tryst with an Egyptian princess
Pooja Bedi will make a comeback to Telugu cinema after almost two decades, in the film Shakti. She will play an Egyptian princess.
The film stars NTR Jr and Ileana, and is directed by Mehar Ramesh. It is slated for release on March 30.
Pooja is excited about Shakti and her comeback to Telugu cinema. She talks about it in this exclusive interview with Radhika Rajamani.
How did you get the offer to act in a Telugu film?
I got a call from the production house Vyjayanthi Movies. I was told that they were considering me for an interesting role. When I heard the story, I was so excited. The storyline was wonderful. It was a lavish film which was mounted with a stupendous set.
You play the role of an Egyptian princess. Was it that made you take it up?
The role was fabulous and locations, incredible. The production house was very professional. The director was entertaining and it was a pleasure to work in an unfamiliar language.
Image: Pooja Bedi
'I play an Egyptian princess who is glamorous'
Is it a fantasy character?
You may have to watch the film to know this. The film is set in modern day India. There's a nice twist in the film. The film is very interesting and the character is very unique.
Are you wearing Egyptian costumes and doing the Egyptian dances too?
There are no dances. The character is too strong to dance. I play this Egyptian princess, who is glamorous. I wear Egyptian clothes.
Did you shoot your scenes in Egypt?
Yes, we shot in Luxor (at the temples) and Cairo (at the pyramids). It was scorching hot -- around 50 degrees centigrade -- when we were shooting. People were fainting on the sets; we had blisters. But on the whole, it was entertaining.
Image: Pooja Bedi in Shakti
'NTR said he would not do a fight scene with me as he doesn't fight with women'
How was it acting with NTR?
It was such a pleasure. He is very professional and a thorough gentleman. He is very respectful. In fact, he went to the extent of saying he would not do a fight scene with me as he doesn't fight with women (laughs). It seems even in films, he wouldn't fight with a woman. He had to be coaxed to be cruel to me!
Do you have any scenes with Ileana?
Yes. Ileana is very nice and it's great fun to be with her. She's a spirited girl. We shared a common love for mithai (sweets). Since a very good sweet shop (Bikanerwala) and a bakery (Karachi Bakery) were opposite the hotel we stayed in, we would hop across and buy sweets. I would also give some to the unit.
From the bakery, I would buy banana bread, muffins, biscuits and almond biscotti. Our director Meher Ramesh also ensured we had a lot of biryani and other local delicacies during the shoot. Since we were shooting during the festival of Eid, we had a lot of delicious haleem too. I bought mithais, haleem, men's kurtas for my dad. All in all it was a lot of shooting, shopping and eating!
Shakti has other actors from the Hindi film industry like Jackie Shroff, Sonu Sood and Manjari Fadnis. Do you share screen space with them?
I had one small scene with Manjari. I shot with Jackie in Egypt. Sonu Sood plays my husband. I know these people so well but I am acting with them for the first time. Sonu works out in the same gym as I do. I've known Jackie for 20 years and he's a cool guy. It was real fun and I had a good experience.
Image: Pooja Bedi
'It will be a wonderful re-introduction for me in Telugu films'
How did you manage the language?
My director Mehar made it easy for me. He wrote it in Hindi and Roman script for me and explained everything what the scene was etc. I learnt three lines at a time. Mehar made it fabulous for a non-Telugu to speak Telugu.
What's interesting about Shakti?
It's the biggest budget film with the biggest of stars. It's got a good story line with lavish sets, great special effects and a great producer (Aswani Dutt). Films are meant to entertain and this is as good as it gets.
How was the experience of working in Shakti?It was entertaining. It was also hard work and stressful too. Sometimes we shot for 22 hours at a stretch. Work was really intense. It will be a wonderful re-introduction for me in Telugu films. I'll come in with a bang. It's the biggest Telugu film and I am excited about it.
Image: Pooja Bedi
'I worked in a Telugu film because I wanted to and not because I have to'
You acted with Mohan Babu in Chittemma Mogudu years ago. How does it feel doing a Telugu film after such a big gap?
I worked in a Telugu film because I wanted to and not because I have to. I had a good time working in the Telugu industry and impressed with its style of functioning. It works in clockwork precision.
Are you game to do more Telugu films?
I did Chittemma Mogudu in 1992. I am doing films after a long time. I chose television as a medium because it's entertaining and an incredibly powerful medium. Unlike films, people don't have to step out of their homes to watch a TV show. It's got a greater audience. I have been writing books, been a columnist and brand ambassador. I enjoyed all this. If something striking comes my way in films, I will do it.
Do you prefer television to films?There's a whole wide of variety of experiences here. I have tried dance (Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa), various stunts (Khatron ki Khiladi) which I never dreamt of doing, chat shows (where I was tackling issues) and now Maa Exchange show (about Pooja, the person and the family). So there's a gamut of experience in television.
Image: Pooja Bedi