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Interview Hindi

Pooja Batra: Couldn't have asked for a better debut than Virasat

On the film’s 20th anniversary today (30 May), actress Batra shares her memories with Cinestaan.com of shooting for the film and entering the Hindi film industry.

Sonal Pandya

Actress Pooja Batra, whose latest film, Mirror Game: Ab Khel Shuru, is out this week, was first seen in Hindi cinema with Priyadarshan’s ambitious remake of the National award-winning Tamil hit, Thevar Magan (1992). Acting alongside, Anil Kapoor, Tabu and Amrish Puri, Batra had a memorable debut and was even nominated for a Filmfare Award for best supporting actress.

Before getting into films, Batra was a successful model and had attended a party hosted by choreographer Farah Khan.

Pooja Batra: Things never go according to plan

In an email interview, Batra told Cinestaan.com how she found herself cast in Virasat. “At the party, Nagarjuna saw me and asked Farah to ask me if I would to do a song for his Telugu movie Sisindri (1995). When Priyadarshan was casting for Virasat, he asked Farah and Nag to show him that song. I am guessing he liked me on screen and cast me for the role of Anita in Virasat. I was asked to meet Mushir Riyaz the producer and sign the contract,” she said.

During the shooting, she learnt that the film was based on the Tamil hit. Working with director Priyadarshan and co-stars Kapoor and Tabu, she said, was an outstanding experience for her. She shared that she “learnt so much working with all of them. Tabu was a darling. Anil was so upbeat and energetic and such an awesome human being. Amrish Puri... that voice, the expressions he would give... wow! I would hang on the sets all day even if I wasn't in the scenes to see all of them act.”  

Pooja Batra with Anil Kapoor

Batra called it one of her most memorable shooting experiences as an actor — from the energy, to the team, locations, actors, performances, and the music. “Just being on the set everyday was such a high. We knew we were making something unique,” she recalled. The one thing that we would all do after pack-up is that we would all hang in [art director] Sabu Cyril's room and go over how the day went. It was amazing team effort everyone from Anil, Tabu, [cinematographer] Ravi K, Farah, myself, it was like a family.”

She remained grateful for her Hindi film debut and said, “I cherished every moment of being a part of team Virasat. I couldn't have asked for a better debut.”  

Virasat (1997) won seven Filmfare awards, including best film (critics), best actor (critics) for Kapoor and best actress (critics) for Tabu. Singer KS Chithra won the National Award for best female playback singer for the song ‘Payalein Chun Mun’.