'Ammayi' is Ram Gopal Varma's next flick, to be released in theatres on July 15. Touted to be India's first martial arts movie, the film has secured a ginormous release in China.
In this interview, debutante actress Pooja Bhalekar talks about her background, working experience with RGV, her future plans, and more.
Becoming an actress was never in my thought. My focus had been entirely on my martial arts career. I have been a huge fan of RGV sir and when I received a call from his office, I was both nervous and excited. I went to meet him with my father, in Mumbai. He told me 'Ammayi' would be made as a tribute to Bruce Lee. I liked the very idea. He talked about his Bruce Lee obsession. I was thrilled to start my career with RGV sir.
Without my martial arts talent, I wouldn't have stood a chance. The director cast me in this film only because of my martial arts skill. If it was some other genre, he could have easily found better girls. When he approached me, I knew this could be a life-altering project. I knew that I will get to inspire girls to pursue martial arts by doing a film of this genre.
I didn't know that 'Ammayi' would be a multi-lingual release when it was started. The international release was out of the question. After distribution companies evinced interest in the project, 'Ammayi' became an international crossover project. (It is being released on 40,000 screens in China)
Pooja is my character's name in the film. In fact, the name was decided before RGV sir spotted me. That's called destiny! Coming to the story, something unfortunate happens in the female protagonist's life. She has the zeal in her to learn martial arts and makes a series of decisions, some of which throw hardships at her.
I started off by doing Yoga and 100-mt running races. On a day, I spotted a few children doing martial arts on the school ground. I got interested in it. I learned it and started slowly achieving medals! All this made me want to make martial arts my career. It's important for everyone, especially girls, to learn martial arts for self-defense.
Thanks to the physical stamina acquired over many years, I could pull off the taxing role while doing 'Ammayi'. I come with no acting background. I am not a trained actor. It was RGV sir's instructions and character brief that did the trick. I was just raw and the director encouraged me to perform heartfully so that it comes out naturally. I participated in test shoots before the production began.
As a heroine, I need to be presentable. So, I have brought in a mix of both talent and glamour. There is a balance. If it is required, I would love to do glamorous roles as well in the future.
RGV sir has got an excellent theoretical knowledge of martial arts. He knows the style of action needed for a film like 'Ammayi'. All the action sequences are inspired by the action in Bruce Lee's films!
You have to follow your heart. In our family, my parents have raised all daughters as equals. They have always encouraged us to pursue our dreams. I have been to different parts of India to participate in martial arts competitions. For months, I would be away from home! Never did my parents have a problem with it. They reposed complete trust in me. They are today greatly excited about the theatrical release of 'Ammayi'.
I am ready to repeat martial arts-driven roles if the character is really special. 'Ammayi' has set a high standard and I should do an action film again only if it is better than my debut movie!