‘The fact that Neeraj sir thought that I could play such a big part was a huge compliment’

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 15 February 2018

Actress Pooja Chopra, who visited Sakal Times office recently, talks about Aiyaary, her next project with Neeraj Pandey that releases today.

Pune-girl Pooja Chopra is coming back on the big screen after a gap of two years. The actress will be seen playing a pivotal role in Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, which is releasing today. Aiyaary also stars Manoj Bajpayee, Siddharth Malhotra, Rakul Preet Singh, Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Adil Hussain and others. The film is based on the Adarsh scam.  

Aiyaary is Pooja’s second project with Neeraj, after working in his short film, Ouch. “Unlike other filmmakers, nobody knows Neeraj sir because he is a very private person. He lets his work do all the talking. He is a man of few words but extremely smart, intelligent and clear about what he wants,” she says. 

Pooja adds that while working with the filmmaker, actors need not do any homework, because he does all the preparation, for very single actor on the set. “He will say, ‘Manojji, Siddharth, Pooja, Kher saab… you are doing this’ and we follow his vision. He has an impeccable body of work, so we never doubt his vision,” says Pooja. 

The actress says that she did not audition for the film nor did she give a screen test. “I was just called on board. The fact that Neeraj sir thought that I could play such a big part was a huge compliment for me. I had to give my 100 per cent,” says Pooja, who plays the role of Captain Maya Semwal in the film. 

“In the entire army camp, she is the only girl, but the way she behaves or uses her gun, no one will call her a girl. You don’t get to play such characters often,” adds the Commando-fame actress.

She says that she studied the BSF jawans at the camp they were shooting their film at. “I took several reference points from them, like their body language. After doing the film, I realised that we owe our carefree lives to the defence forces,” says Pooja.

The actress shares maximum screen space with Manoj and Siddharth in the film. Earlier, while shooting with Manoj for Ouch, she had some inhibitions, because to have screen presence in front of an actor like Manoj, wasn’t an easy job.

“When I met Manojji, I realised he is very chilled out. He is a fun-loving person, but takes his work very seriously. He helps you while shooting and shares tips. As for Siddharth, he is a cool guy and very much into fitness. I like the fact that very early into his career, he has played different characters. He has a good sense of humour.” 

The actress, who has lost oodles of weight for the film, also explained her exercise regime. “I have worked very hard for this body. As a Miss India and actress, I was always fit, but the kind of workout that I did now, was at another level. I was following ‘Intermediate Diet Plan’ in which I didn’t eat for 15 hours and when I woke up in the morning, I used to hit the gym straightaway. I used to workout to lose all the fat percentage.”

Pooja keeps taking these long gaps between each project. Ask her why and she replies, “I wish I had the capacity to choose scripts. Some of the projects that I have said ‘no’ to, have done well and vice versa. I have no one to guide me. Whatever I am learning, is self-taught. Also, if I am not sure about a film 100 per cent, I will not do it, because I hate regretting my actions. I mean, acting is my passion but I would rather do good or fewer films, that I am proud of.  Having said that, I would love to do at least two to three films a year.”

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