Miss India Universe 2007 Puja Gupta will be making her debut with F.A.L.T.U, co-starring Arshad Warsi, Riteish Deshmukh, Jackky Bhagnani and Angad Bedi. The film has been directed by choreographer-turned-director Remo D’Souza, and produced by Jackky’s father Vashu Bhagnani.The sexy model talks to Rajul Hegde about her Bollywood debut, and why it took so long to happen.Why did you wait so long to make your Bollywood debut?I was working on spreading AIDS awareness with people like Ashley Judd and (U2 frontman) Bono. I was giving auditions meanwhile as well.
How did you bag a role in F.A.L.T.U.? It’s actually a funny story. I had no idea about auditions for F.A.L.T.U. Jackky saw me at a dinner party, and thought I was perfect for the role. We didn’t even know each other then. He went ahead and spoke with Remo sir about me. Remo sir contacted (photographer) Atul Kasbekar, who told me who Jackky was, and about F.A.L.T.U.I went for an audition, and spoke to Jackky for the first time. Later, when the shoot started, Remo sir told me that the day he saw me, he had decided that I should be in the film.Were you nervous on the first day of shooting?Oh yes! I had absolutely no idea about what was happening. It was evident from my face that I was nervous and Remo sir realised it. He took me for a walk to soothe me down. We had a chat, and he told me that I was bound to feel nervous on the first day. He said he was nervous too! His words put me at ease. In the first scene that we shot, we were to wait outside the principal’s office and plead with the peon to let us into the college.
Have you taken any acting lessons? No. But before the shoot, Remo sir took some workshops and explained the characters to us. He took us to colleges and told us to observe students. That proved to be very helpful. What is your role in the film?My character Puja has no interest in studies but she wants to do something big in life. Her father wants her to get married and have children. But marriage and kids are a big no-no for me. My character’s dream is to become successful and make her father proud. I promise that the film will be a laugh riot. You will go home with a smile on your face.How was it working with Riteish, Arshad and Jackky?They were very supportive and fun to work with. They guided me through the tough scenes.Did you have any bad days on the sets?Yes. We shot in Mauritius for 40 days. At times, I would miss my family. But my team made sure to change my bad days into good ones.
Do you have any friends in the industry to guide you?Atul Kasbekar is a dear friend and has always looked out for me. What I love about him is that if I’m wrong, he doesn’t try to be sweet. Instead, he just yells at me. There are very few people in life who mirrors your bad traits and helps you work in spite of them. I’m glad I have a mentor like Atul Kasbekar in a place like Mumbai.Choreographer Remo D’Souza is making his Bollywood debut as director with this film. Did you have any apprehensions about working with him?No. He is a brilliant director. He has won the National Award for his Bengali film, Lal Paharer Kotha. He’s a beautiful human being as well. He makes you feel comfortable.You are a trained in martial arts.Yes, I have won a couple of tournaments in school but I’m not a qualified black belt. I’m an ardent follower of Bharat Thakur yoga, as it helps me to stay fit. I was 18 years old when I joined his yoga class in New Delhi. My instructors helped me prepare mentally and physically for the Miss India beauty pageant and since then, I have never skipped yoga.
Did you always want to act?Acting happened by chance. I never thought of being an actress. I wanted to represent the country and make my family proud. But yes, after winning the title, many opportunities presented themselves to me, out of which I chose to make a career in movies.What was your parents’ reaction when you told them about modelling, and then acting?My family is well educated, and placed in the fields of medicine and engineering. When I told my mother and older brother about my plan to enter the Miss India beauty pageant after my graduation, their jaws literally dropped (laughs). After a lot of convincing, my family supported my decision to enter the contest. What kind of films would you like to do?I’m too young in the industry to be choosing roles. I’d like to try out everything. Except horror movies because I’m too scared of horror! (laughs). What next?I have a three-film deal with Puja films (Vashu Bhagnani’s production house).
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