Pooja Bhatt on Chup Co-star Dulquer Salmaan: His Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

Chup: Revenge Of The Artist, which is all set to hit the theatres this Friday, marks actor Pooja Bhatt’s latest web outing after her comeback with the Netflix original series, Bombay Begums, last year. The upcoming psychological thriller sees her playing a criminal psychiatrist. A tribute to late filmmaker Guru Dutt and his film Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), which has achieved a cult status over the years, Chup follows the story of a serial killer on a hunt for film critics and murdering them.

In an exclusive chat with News18, Pooja, who began her onscreen career with the television film Daddy (1989), talks about the most memorable review she received, which moved her and has stayed with her till date.

Recalling the episode on the sets of one of her earliest films, she shares, “One of the greatest compliments I received was when I was shooting for Prem Deewane (1992) with Madhuri (Dixit Nene), Jackie (Shroff) and Vivek (Mushran). Saroj (Khan; late choreographer) ji was directing us and I distinctly remember that it was the day we were shooting for a song called Happy Birthday To You Mr Pedro. She was trying to make Jackie, Vivek and I dance, and there was Madhuri on the other side. Just imagine (laughs)!”

It was during the shoot of the song when a family of three came up to her. She continues, “A girl came up to me and told me that her father wants to tell me something. He told me that he stopped drinking after he watched Daddy. That was the first time I realised that movies really resonate and have an impact beyond the visceral or the obvious. I truly cherish that acknowledgment for more reasons than one.” For the unversed, Daddy was directed by Pooja’s father, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, and it traced the story of a young daughter as she decides to save her dad from alcoholism with help of her unconditional love.

So, for the 50-year-old, critiques from experts and film connoisseurs are not the only ones that matter and she values the opinions of audiences alike. “There are two kinds of compliments that resonate and remain. One is when you receive compliments from your peers, fellow actors and critics. I consider critics, observers and journalists to be a part of the entertainment industry; I don’t think that we’re are removed from each other. And then there are compliments that we receive from areas of life besides fans telling you that they’ve loved your performance and that a certain story has resonated with them,” she explains.

Pooja also recollects the golden words by late music icon Lata Mangeshkar for her, which gave her much motivation in the initial years of her acting career. “She was asked during an interview that from the current lot, whose work she resonates with the most. She said, ‘I like Pooja Bhatt because her eyes have got a lot of pain in them.’ I went, ‘Really? Wow!’” she says.

In the recent times, she lauds actor Vidya Balan for reaching out to her post the release of Bombay Begums, where the former played a powerful banker. “Vidya called me and told me that I did a great job. She also told me, ‘I know as a fellow actor that it’s not easy to do kissing screens. But you kissed damn well, man! I didn’t cringe.’ Hearing that from a female actor felt great. When people look at us, they feel that we’ve a really glamorous lifestyle and it’s exotic to do any kind of intimacy onscreen. But it’s the most awkward thing to shoot! The challenge is to make it look bearable,” the Sadak (1991) and Zakhm (1998) actor expresses.

As she looks forward to the release of Chup, Pooja tells us that she feels elated to have shared screen space with actors like Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhawanthary in the film. “DQ is one person whose silence speaks louder than words. He doesn’t have to give an opinion for you to know exactly what he stands for and what he doesn’t stand for. I love Shreya because she’s a woman who chooses to shout in a world that expects and wants women to whisper. She’s a woman after my own heart. We got along really well and the best part is that we didn’t have to try,” she remarks.

Quiz her about her first collaboration with filmmaker R Balki and Pooja, in her signature candour, elaborates, “He doesn’t have a masterpiece complex. When I spoke to him for the first time over Zoom, he told me that he doesn’t want to sell the film to me, and he directly sent me the script. Very rarely do people part with their scripts but it helps you look at it and process it in isolation. You mostly get a narration from the filmmaker’s point of view. Balki made the process really simple on set and so, we had a blast making the film!”

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