From producing a movie franchise like Jism to a film like Cabaret, actress-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt has been redefining the image of women in Indian cinema since the 1990s. She says she will never project women in a vulgar manner while celebrating their sensuality and beauty.
"Since I started as an actress in the film industry, I realised the power of visuals, and how that can fuel the imagination of our mind. It is very powerful. Therefore, I always cater to my own sensibility first and then to the world," Pooja told IANS.
"My censor board is my own heart and mind. Our audience can say that the women in my films are bold or sensual, but never ever vulgar. I can never look at a female body, even if it is naked, in a vulgar manner," added the daughter of veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
On the projection of women in her films, the Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin actress said, "My gaze is very different from that of Ekta Kapoor's and that is quite visible in those two films—Ragini MMS 2 and Jism 2. "I am taking her example because she is successful and I have respect for her. Both the films are produced by women and Sunny (Leone) is the common actress in them. But the projection is very different.
"Perhaps that is why we both can look outside from the same window but see things differently. I don't only cater a film to the male audience, but also the female audience. That's why I also presented Randeep Hooda in a manner that I did in Jism 2."
Pooja believes that more than showing skin on-screen, presentation of a character makes a woman more sensual. "When I did movies back in the day, there was no nudity in those films, but even then how come people still found Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee very sensual? Because it was the character I played and how I was presented by the filmmaker."
Having made her acting debut in 1989 with Daddy, Pooja gained popularity not only for her on-screen performance but also for her bold screen image as an actress. She also appeared on a magazine cover for which she painted her body. Recounting that experience, she said, "There was no marketing plan behind painting my body for a magazine cover. I did not find it vulgar... But recently, one media house did an article on 10 controversial magazine covers of 1990s, and mine was one of them."
"I was like, after so many years, if that is controversial, then I guess I am relevant," she said with a laugh. As a producer, Pooja has backed films like Sur: The Melody of Life, Jism, Paap and Rog. According to her, the idea behind casting an actress who is most different from the "so-called conventional" also comes from her conviction.
On the acting front, Pooja is busy preparing for the upcoming film Sadak 2, Jism 3 and also Jism the web series. On what made her want to convert the film franchise into a web show, Pooja said, "Jism was the first adult love story of our time. Murder could not have been made if Jism wasn't made. It opened a Pandora's box.”
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