At 40, Pooja Bhatt wants roles to suit her age

Mumbai, Dec 25 (IANS) It has been over a decade since Pooja Bhatt has been seen on the big screen as an actess. She says she is open to the idea of facing the camera again - as long as she gets to act her age.

Pooja first turned producer with "Tamanna" in 1998. Later, she took up film direction with "Paap" in 2003.

"I would like to act my age. I am proud to be 40 because I have survived till 40 with my soul intact. I don't think there are many people who have survived their business like that," said Pooja.

"So, I would like to play women of my age (on screen). If somebody can accommodate my girth and my mirth in a roll, then I am your woman. I am not going to go historical, go under the knife and starve myself for three months because of a role... no chance," she added.

Pooja, who became a popular actress in 1990s with movies like "Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin", "Sir", "Border" and "Zakhm", credits her filmmaker father Mahesh Bhatt for what she has achieved.

"Mahesh Bhatt was the man who had the eye to see what other people never saw. But with me, on day one, he said, 'Pooja Bhatt, if you are not going to be good I am going to throw you out. I am not going to lie you that you can act when the fact is you can't act'.

"That was the greatest gift my father gave me on daym one and I was thrown into the deep end. That is when you learn to swim," she said.

Pooja's last hit film as an actress was "Zakhm", released in 1998.

The actress moved away from the arc lights at a young age, and she says the reason was that she couldn't focus on herself any more.

"An actor is meant to be selfish. He is only meant to think about himself or herself because a film is a very unforgiving place, where nobody is there to help the actor. So you have to focus on yourself.

"But I was coming to a phase, where I couldn't focus on myself any more. I wanted to focus outside myself... that was the growth in my head," Pooja said.

"I never desired to be an actor, but when I decided to be an actor I had two routes - one was to go the stardom way, but I wanted credibility as an artist.

"I wanted people to say 'she can act'. I didn't want to be a star and then learn to act after five to six years," she added.

As a film producer, she has delivered projects like "Dushman", "Zakhm", "Jism" and "Jism 2".

She says she has learnt to run the set from her uncle, Mukesh Bhatt.

"I am very privileged that I learnt how to run my set from Mukesh Bhatt. And I learnt not to fear and do what I feel from my father.

"Everybody feels a woman can do only one thing at a time, and when I became an actor people though I will not act anymore. But I feel once and actor always an actor," said Pooja.

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