In an exclusive interview with Y Media Group Editor Yudhvir Jaswal, Femina Miss India International winner and Indian-American actress Pooja Batra candidly shared her acting experiences and how yoga has changed her life. Read on.
Yudhvir Jaswal: What do you enjoy more: modelling or acting?
Pooja Batra: I would choose acting over modelling any day, even though modelling is how I started. I was crowned Femina Miss India International in 1993, and modelling got me into this fantastic field of profession. But acting is what gives me satisfaction.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Could you please describe your journey of entering the modelling field?
Pooja Batra: I participated in Miss India’s beauty pageant and was declared the winner. It was just the next day when the whole world opened out for me. I was just an ordinary average girl in college. When I won the pageant, suddenly everybody knew me, and I started getting commercials. I started getting all the big runway shows, and the designers wanted to reach out to me as I got movie offers. It was amazing.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Did you always aspire to become an actress or a model?
Pooja Batra: I always aspired to be a model but acting never even occurred. It was never a question of pursuing acting as I belonged to an average working family. Modelling was still considered okay. I had to beg my parents to let me act. They initially agreed for me to act in one movie since it was an immense opportunity for me. But the movie was such a huge success that I kept getting offers, and it never stopped. So that was by chance, but I wanted to become a model more than an actor.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Describe your feeling about your massive accomplishment as your first movie Virasat was a mega-hit?
Pooja Batra: I was surprised because I never expected my first movie to be appreciated so much. People love it to date. They remember me from that movie, which is great. And I’m very grateful.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Is there something that you want to achieve in your life at this stage of life?
Pooja Batra: I still need to do a lot for the environment. I’m an environmentalist and an animal lover. I am a big promoter of reusing clothes and bottles and against using plastic. I do as much as possible to protect and save the planet. I would want to do some more impressive movies. I would love to do something for the homeless kids in India, where they have no superhero who is doing anything for them. These kids’ life is nothing. People should go out of their way to ensure that the kids have a proper education and a future. This is just a never-ending list that I have.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Are you interested in acting in web series?
Pooja Batra: Yeah, web series are also acting. It is basically a new term for shows. TV has become more corporate now.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Apart from yoga, what else makes you happy?
Pooja Batra: I love travelling, and I’m a peripatetic. I love to learn when I’m travelling, and I think it’s the best thing to do right now. The world is changing, and you never know what might stay or not. Last year, I was lucky enough to go to Tahiti. It was amazing for me because people have not even heard of places like Tahiti. When I post all these things on social media, I’m also vicariously taking my fans on a travel spree with me.
Yudhvir Jaswal: What is the reason that you are so serene and grounded?
Pooja Batra: It’s yoga, which is what it does to you daily. If you’re doing it daily, you’ll notice a subtle change. Even before you know it, you’ve changed as a person for the better.
Yudhvir Jaswal: How have you evolved as a person after yoga and so much exposure in life?
Pooja Batra: I think I’m less capricious. I previously had temper issues and would get agitated with other people. So there would be no empathy there. I believe all that has changed a lot. My personality has changed with the meditations, cleansing and asanas I’ve done. I try to follow the limbs of yoga, so they’re all disciplinary and life-changing. Yoga has helped me and changed me as a person for the better.
Yudhvir Jaswal: How did you start yoga? What got you into this?
Pooja Batra: I was always aware of yoga while growing up in India. It’s just that when I was in LA, I realized the importance of how the Westerners have taken yoga. I decided to dive into it and enhance myself with the knowledge of yoga. I got adequately trained and later got certification. Also, at this moment, I’m resonating with Sanskrit, and I love that language. I want to learn some mantras and learn their meaning of them. I am returning to the roots and love what our culture and heritage offer. We’ve become so westernized that we don’t even value it.
Yudhvir Jaswal: How has your experience been moving back and forth from India to the States? Where would you prefer to live?
Pooja Batra: I love both countries. But right now, I would say that I love being back in India and like spending more time there than in the US. I think you are stuck in a cog wheel in the US and don’t have a life and enjoy it.
In India, I feel that life is less stressful because it’s okay if you don’t have enough money in the bank. It’s okay not to be materialistic there, as people don’t care about these things.
Yudhvir Jaswal: Anything else would you like to add?
Pooja Batra: I want to thank all my fans for their immense love and support. I also appreciate Bollywood Fashion Designer Dinesh K Ramsay for this beautiful outfit and inviting us to his fun-filled Indian fusion restaurant, Filmy Tadka, in Brampton.
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