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Pooja Bhatt Who Makes A Stunning Comeback In Netflix’s Webseries Bombay Begums

Congratulations on a  stunning comeback in Bombay Begums. It is criminal how  you have been hiding yourself from the camera?

 Ha ha, thank you. I  got busy with  a whole lot of production work…

(Me interrupting)   Yeah where you  introduced a whole lot of  talented  but ungrateful actors..

Ha ha ha. Well  that’s true. C’est la vie(that’s life) 

How  does it feel to come back after so long? I mean  , is acting  like swimming and  cycling which you  never forget?

I am glad you asked me that.Acting is  like cycling.When you get on a  cycle  after a long gap you are  a bit shaky, but soon you are steady.That’s what happened  to me when Alankrita Shrivastava  came to be  with  Bombay Begums I was  like, ‘Are you sure? I am  a bit rusty because I’ve been  busy producing films .’But she was positive she  wanted me to play Rani.

Also, nothing substantial was  coming  your way?

I was  actually  quite happy to  get  out of the acting space and concentrate  on  production. When this  offer  came to me for the  first time I was bang in the middle  of  a schedule  of  Sadak 2.  For me  that  movie  was  important because it was  my father’s . Of course  later  the audience  got to know that  I wasn’t even in  the  film. But Sadak 2  was  my chance to be  associated with  my father again. I  felt  like the protective  child,and I wanted  to be there  for him .

What made you take  up Bombay Begums?

I was actually quite taken aback when I got this role. I  got this email out of the blue  offering me  the role.They sent me  a very detailed  brief.  It was set  in  the world of banking and  finance  . I read  the  plot and I was like …wow! I was  being offered the pivotal role. I loved Alankrita’sLipstick Under The  Burqa.

 Bombay Begums  addresses many issues that are considered taboo in our  society specially when it comes to women?

Yes,my character Rani  is going through a difficult menopause. But Like  I said I  was  in the middle of  Sadak 2. So I said  thanks  but no thanks.My father was  most excited that I got the part. But I was adamant .I told him  my love for him and my  commitment to seeing Sadak 2  to its completion far  exceeded  any other  consideration. But  as luck would have it the shooting of  Bombay Begums  got delayed.  So it came  back to me. You know  what is meant for  you in life will come to you. We completed  all the shooting just before Covid. Then  the  whole year is just a  blank.Thank  God  for something like  Bombay  Begums.  It reminds us that that  focus has  shifted  to a  large extent from  the large screen  to the  small one at  home.

Bombay Begum has a  certain glamour and  opulence about it. Don’t  you feel some  of  that is lost  on  the small screen?

You know, my launch as  an actor came on  the small  screen  in  1989  long before the OTTplatform. I wouldn’t trade my launch in  Daddy for anything in the world  . I remember  my father telling me  on the  first day of shoot that he  would throw me  out if I  didn’t give him the  performance  he wanted. Then  I  kind of  moved towards film production when  I was just 25. I remember  speaking  to you at length  during Zakham where  I wore a saree  for the  first time.And now  so many years later  I’m back  in sarees for Bombay Begums. It’s really strange how  life  comes  to a  full circle. 

I’ve never heard you  so happy  with a role before?

It is  a great script and  a great role and Endemol are wonderful  producers  to work with  . It’s such  a relief not having to worry  about everything on the set. Netflix is  exceptionally organized. They’ve literally change the definition of cinematic entertainment. All I had  to do was act was focus on my  character .I surrendered  to  the team and  they guided my through the whole process  of facing the camera again.

I think  what makes  Bombay Begums  and your character so interesting is  that they address  female  sexuality so  honestly?

Absolutely! My character  is  going  through menopause and she is in complete denial about it. I love my first  shot in the series where I am looking into the  mirror.Women  in our cinema  are frozen  in time.  Very rarely is the process of aging in  a woman discussed. I said no to  a number of offers  in the recent past because  they expected  me to play someone  10 years  younger than I actually am. In Bombay Begums  I play  49 and I am 49 in  real life. There are  women protagonists  of every age in Bombay Begums. There is  a girl who is  going through puberty and there’s a woman, me,  who’s  going through menopause. This is the  kind of dream role that actresses  beyond a certain age  don’t get  in our country.

And you may  not get something  like this  again?

Which  is  why I’m looking  forward  to Season 2  of  Bombay Begums. After that if I don’t get something like this I’d be happy to not  act  ever again.Doing  Bombay Begums  was  like  a vacation for me. This  new professional way of working…I hope it becomes  the norm in  the film industry. It was liberating to not worry  about the production. Because while doing this series I also went  through a  health scare . So  between  shots I was popping pills and taking my shots.But it all came together  finally. 

This is  your finest performance  to date?

 Recently  I watched the whole series and I was stunned. That wasn’t me I was seeing there on screen.I felt it couldn’t get any  better for me.

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