Interview Hindi

Pooja Batra: Things never go according to plan

The Virasat (1997) actress talks about her upcoming film, Mirror Game, preparing for her role, and her plans for the future.

Sonal Pandya

Pooja Batra’s last lead role in Hindi cinema was around 12 years ago with her portrayal of the empress Noor Jahan in Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005). Since then, she has been seen only in cameo appearances in Hum Tum Shabana (2011) and ABCD 2 (2015). Last year, Batra took on the lead role in the Punjabi film, Killer Punjabi, and a Hollywood film, One Under The Sun. Now, she will return to Hindi cinema with director Vijit Sharma’s Mirror Game: Ab Khel Shuru.

The actress was warm and incredibly friendly as she discussed her role as Dr Roy in the film and her plans for the future with "I play a police psychologist," she said. "I am helping the police solve this case where I am trying to analyse the subject by seeing whether he is telling the truth or is he [lying]. Then as the movie progresses, we get to see how deeply she is involved in the case."

Writer-director Vijit Sharma approached Batra for the film and Batra decided to come aboard. "I liked the role, so I asked them when they were starting. The whole movie was shot in one schedule," she said. "I remember I was shooting in India for an American TV show and as soon as I packed on it, I had to go back. Generally when I do something in India, I just stay back, when the project is over, with family and friends."

Batra was kicked to get into the role of a psychologist, as she had studied psychology during graduation. "I watch a lot of thrillers. And I have done therapy myself to enhance who I am. When you go through phases in life, psychology somewhere or the other comes in. That helped me. I was going through an emotional downer, a divorce, so I had to do therapy to just basically figure out [things] and feel normal again. So, when I was offered this role, I was like, damn, I want to sit on the other side of the chair now,” she said, laughing.

Pooja Batra and Parvin Dabas in a still from Mirror Game: Ab Khel Shuru

When asked about her future acting designs in cinema, she was pragmatic about planning things too much. She said, "I’ve realized that what you plan, nothing really happens, unless you’re such a smart operator and you’ve planned your entire life, then also things go haywire. There’s no saying what’s next."

She then moved on to the different scenario in Hindi cinema from when she first made her debut in 1997. Batra felt the roles being offered to actresses now are "so much better than [the] candy floss" of her time. “There were good films in the 1990s too, but it was a different cinema and a different time. There was again Virasat (1997). But it was a different sensibility. Now, there are empowering personalities are being portrayed. I would love to play Kiran Bedi or PT Usha, because I am like this (points at herself from head to toe).”

Batra said she would also love to work with the new wave of people in the industry today. "I think they are brilliant," she said. "A lot of people are dedicated and come to LA and do training — [at] film school."

She also has her own production company, Glow Bell Inc, aimed at making films in India and Hollywood. However, she hasn’t narrowed in on a subject so far. That is because she feels there is a fine line between a film with real subjects and a film that feels like a documentary. "There have been a lot of writers who have approached me with their subjects and asked me to make it, but I have not circled in on a script as yet," she said.