The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 19, 2003
Lead Article

In the spotlight
Jism’s about a woman who’s unashamed
of her sexuality”

Pooja Bhatt, the producer of Jism, an erotic thriller, says her film looks at love in a realistic fashion
Pooja Bhatt, the producer of Jism, an erotic thriller, says her film looks at love in a realistic fashion

SHE is boldness personified. Pooja Bhatt has always believed in leading life on her own terms. Love her, hate her, but you can't simply ignore her.

At a time when Hindi film actresses kept their boyfriends under wraps, Pooja flaunted her relationships and break-ups in the media with gay abandon.

While the highlights of her acting career have been sensitive performances in Daddy and Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin, her decision to turn producer was greeted with apprehension. But Pooja proved the sceptics wrong when she won the National Award for the Best Film for Zakhm.

Here, she speaks about her latest film Jism, her directorial ambitions and of living life her way.

Tell us about your latest venture Jism.

Bipasha Basu plays the role of the female protagonist in Jism
Bipasha Basu plays the role of the female protagonist in Jism

Well, it's a love story set in the thriller mode. It's unique in the sense that the female protagonist, for the first time ever on the Indian screen, is unashamed about her sexuality. She is a married woman who gets into an extra-marital affair. It's the first adult love story that looks at love in the way that we actually see it around us. The love in Hindi films and the love in real life are two different things. Jism doesn't talk down to the audience. It's a film about love and what it does to you—the good, the bad and the ugly. The film deals with what love reduces you to and what it makes you capable of.


Would you say the female protagonist is completely black?

Well, conventional people would say she is negative. But she is someone who is relentless, ambitious and wants things on her own terms. And she is unafraid to use her looks to get them. In a man's world that is considered negative!

You were one of the first actresses to get into production. But, unlike actors who make films to cast themselves in pivotal roles, you haven't been too keen to act in your films.

I just want to make films. I am not new to the business. I come from a film family. So, for me, taking up the mantle of producer and then director, is the most natural step in the world. It's like I have been born into this business. At the end of the day, it's films that I want to make. If I'm right for the role, I will act in it. Everything else is secondary. Nobody is beyond the film. I'm glad that there are other actors and actresses who understand that production is the future. I was the first actress in the country to start a production company. At that point of time people asked me whether I would be able to handle it. Now, it's the most normal thing in the world to do.

What about your directorial ambitions?

I will turn director this year. There are two ideas that interest me. But in terms of logistics (because they are both very different kind of movies), I don't know which one it's going to be. But I'm most certainly directing by the end of this year.

How would you define yourself?

I can't. I am 30, and I'm still learning who I am. I think I'll leave it to other people to define me. That would leave them with something to do for the day!

You have had the reputation of being a rebel, right from your early days. Elaborate on that?

I have never been a rebel, because my parents have been supportive. At the age of 20, I didn't have to hide my boyfriend from my parents. I was allowed to have a boyfriend, as long as I told them I had one. They would not have wanted me to hide it from them and meet my boyfriend at another friend's house. When I wanted to go to a disco, they took me there. My parents have been my best friends. So, I have never had any reason to rebel against them. I was called a rebel, because at that time I was the only actress who spoke her mind. I was the only actress who confessed more than the others. Not that I did more than the others. Everyone does everything, some talk about it, while others don't. I chose to talk because I thought it was too exhausting to hide my life from everybody, let alone journalists.

What's your concept of an ideal mate?

There's no concept as such. I think it's not just about finding the right person, but also about being the right person yourself. You can meet the most wonderful man. But, at that point of time you might not be open to him. You have no space to even recognise the finer qualities about him then. So, it's also about where you are in your life and what you want out of life at that moment. It all depends on whether you are willing to meet half-way? You shouldn't get married just because you have reached a certain age. Rather, it should happen because it has to happen. I might be married tomorrow. I might be married 10 years from now. You can't plan these things.

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