Pooja Chopra, who was last seen on the big screen in ‘Commando’, recently featured in a short film titled ‘OUCH’. The short film is directed by Neeraj Pandey, and also stars Manoj Bajpayee. Pooja recently spoke to us about her experience of working in a short film, about not being a part of ‘Commando’ sequel and many other things.
How was the experience of working in a short film?
Very different from what we have in feature films. The feature films obviously have more time investment and you build up character in it. Even personally you bring the shades of the character to life, but in a short film like this (‘OUCH’) there’s only one scene. You don’t know what happened before the scene, you don’t know what will happen after the scene. It’s not easy to establish what the character is all about, where the character is coming from. So, a little challenging than a normal feature film, but fun. I wish it wasn’t a short film and a feature film because it’s a Neeraj Pandey film.
You have shared screen space with a senior actor like Manoj Bajpayee in the short film. So, were you nervous about working with him?
Initially, when Neeraj Pandey told me my co-star will be Manoj Bajpayee, I had cold feet because I have grown up on his films. I have really admired his work. ‘Satya’ is still known for Bhiku Mhatre. Till date, in all his films, the last one being ‘Saat Uchakkey’, and other films like ‘Traffic’, ‘Tandav’ and ‘Kriti’, he has proved what an amazing actor he is. So yes, I was nervous. The first time we met was at Neeraj Pandey’s office for workshop. He completely put me at ease. I didn’t feel like he was ‘The Manoj Bajpayee’, I felt like he is another actor like me who is hired to do this job (film). He is very motivating and very encouraging. The way he was talking to me and laughing with me, cracking jokes, that broke the ice very quickly while we were doing workshops. So, then it became quite easy for me to work with him.
How is Neeraj Pandey as a director?
Working with Neeraj Pandey was better than a dream. I obviously had things in head. I had sleepless nights before the first session of the workshop. I wanted everything to go not right, but perfect, from the word go. For me this film was an audition for Neeraj Pandey as I always wanted to work with him. So, I wanted everything to go very well. When I met him I really liked everything about him. Everything was so perfect, so accurate, the way he thought, the way he guided me, everything was impeccable. I was like a child, a sponge rather and tried to absorb as much as I could. I genuinely feel I have really learnt a lot. I think if in three days I have so much from him, then if I will do a full schedule of 25-30 days, then there will be a lot to learn from him. He is an institution in himself. And everyone who has worked with him can vouch that he is an amazing director. Until now I was a fan of his work, but now I admire him as a human being as well. I am waiting and hoping to work with him on a feature film soon.
You have mouthed cuss words in the short film. So, were you comfortable speaking it?
Initially no because cuss words don’t come to me naturally and I come from a family where you don’t use these words. So, when I read the script for the first time, I had a question mark and asked him (Neeraj Pandey), “Sir, these words?” So, he said that my character will speak this, Priya will speak this and that how Priya is. So, then I was like if he thinks (Neeraj Pandey) that Priya is going to say this, then I should say it. We of course rehearsed it and then delivered it.
‘OUCH’ revolves around extra-marital affair. So, what’s your take on it?
I need to be married first for that (laughs). Although it’s very relevant and rampant in today’s modern day age, but I don’t know I haven’t experienced it, so I don’t have any opinion about it yet.
Talking about big screen, there’s a sequel of ‘Commando’ being made, are you sad that you are not a part of it?
Yes, I am not a part of it and why I am not a part of it, you should ask the makers. They are the ones who can tell you why. I would have loved to be a part of it.
When are we going to see you on the big screen again?
Although I think it’s very important for an actor to be seen because it is said that ‘Jo dikhta hai woh bikta hai’, but I have a thought process that you can take one or two years to be back on the screen, and come with something substantial that people like. Something like this short film; I know that it’s a short film, but people are noticing it. The kind of views, the kind of response it has been getting, I can see it has been received well. So, it kind of makes up for me, the time I have been absence. So, if something substantial doesn’t come up, you won’t see me on the screen.
One director you want to work with apart from Neeraj Pandey?
I have worked with him (Neeraj Pandey), but my appetite isn’t satisfied yet. In fact, it has made me more hungry. Day and night I am dreaming and hoping that I get a call from Neeraj Pandey. He gives me a narration for a film, and asks me if I want to do it or not. I am dying to work with him.
One actor you want to work with?
Ranbir Kapoor, I have watched all his films. It doesn’t matter if they are box office hits or flops. I think as an actor he offers so much in every film, in every character that it’s just amazing. I don’t how he does it, if it’s the blue blood, talent or hard work, but I think he is an impeccable actor our industry has. It will be more than a dream to work with Ranbir, and hope that happens in this lifetime and my career.