Star Plus’ Mahabharat, that is currently re-airing, changed the fortunes of newcomer Pooja Sharma. A former Miss India contestant, Sharma was seen playing the powerful character of Draupadi. Her impressive performance and strong screen presence made her a face to be reckoned with. Post the serial, she donned another strong role, that of Goddess Kaali in Mahakali: Anth Hi Aarambh Hai.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Pooja Sharma spoke about Mahabharat, its relevance in today’s time and what’s keeping her busy during the lockdown.
Excerpts from the conversation.
Mahabharat was your first project and it turned out to be a success. Tell us something about the experience.
Working on the show is one of the most loved and blessed memories of my life. And more so because it happened to me overnight, in three days to be exact. I always wanted to be an actor, but before I knew anything, I was on board. And the enormity of the show hits me till now. In its second innings, the popularity is speaking for itself. The experience of working on Mahabharat was exciting in every way. We lived far off on the sets, and lived like a family. It was a normal day for me to have 150 actors around.
Since you all shot away in the outskirts, when did you realise that the show and you have become popular?
The enormity of the show was evident with how it was talked about even when it hadn’t launched. And then the statistics of the premiere week made a record of sorts. As for us, we would shoot in Umbergaon, and would have a huge number of people landing up there everyday. We would have to cover our faces and ride off in cars. There would be school kids lining up just for a picture or autograph, and it was so cute.
What do you feel makes people connect with these mythological shows even after years?
I have a theory for this. Mythology has been part of our culture and ethos. Even before we watched these shows, we had heard some part of it as stories in our childhood. The soul of Mahabharat has lessons that are so relevant in times like these. It gives you hope and the power from within to rise above all crises. I think the people who decided to get these shows back, made a very sensitive decision. In our culture, we have always been dependent on our stories to find means of hope and positivity.
Just two shows in your career till now, what has kept you away from taking up more work?
It’s just about the opportunities. Honestly, I did not choose my roles, they chose me. That’s the only explanation I have for this.
Do you feel the re-run of Mahabharat would help you get visibility and in turn, bring more offers?
(Laughs) I don’t know. You cannot predict these things. I am currently just happy that people will get a chance to watch it. Mahabharat was my debut show, and it will always be very special. Even after six years, it is generating so much excitement, and that makes me really happy.
How have you been coping with the lockdown?
I have been coping well. I am my own person but I was not used to being alone during such circumstances. It’s a different feeling, but I am keeping busy with household chores, cooking and I am amazed at how much food I can eat (laughs). And then of course, I read, watch things on the digital platform. I have also become closer to family and friends, as a lot of calling is happening.
So many celebs have been uploading cooking and work out videos on social media. Do you think there is a pressure to be productive during lockdown?
I remember post Mahabharat, everyone met and someone kept asking what will you do? I was like we are human beings, and not human doing. Why do we give so much importance to doing? Right now, we should utilise the time to work on our state of being. If someone gets happy uploading cooking and working out videos, they should. You can watch them instead. Learn to not pressurize yourself at any cost.
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