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The unapologetic life of Pooja Bhatt: How her forthrightness was ahead of her times


Pooja Bhatt entered showbiz at a time when the nepotism debate was still decades away and it was normal, if not expected, for a starkid to eventually become a star. However, given the filmography Mahesh Bhatt had created for himself, Pooja’s entry into the movies (at the age of 17) also came with a niche film, Daddy (1989), directed by Bhatt. himself. The film then acquired cult status.

“I didn’t have to tell my parents, they were very aware of it. It wasn’t like someone else chose me, but my dad gave me the movie ”. Pooja told indianexpress.com in a 2017 interview.

Pooja followed up with several films, mostly backed by her father, that often went above and beyond what one would expect from a ‘Bollywood heroine’. Films with solid roles for women were rare.

Pooja Bhatt played a spoiled heiress who runs away from home to marry a movie star in Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991), also starring Aamir Khan. (Photo: Archives Express)

Her choice of films relied heavily on her personal vision of feminism and gender equality. “It’s not about seeing something, it’s about being brought up in an environment where you are always made to believe that you are not inferior because you are a woman. It’s unfortunate – that people need a trigger to believe in equality or to advocate for women’s rights. You don’t need a trigger for that, it’s built into you, ”she told indianexpress.com

Over the next decade, Pooja delivered some remarkable films with greats like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and Sanjay Dutt. These included Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin, Sadak, Sir, Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee, Chaahat, Tamanna, and Zakhm, each with unique themes like alcoholism, transgender, illegitimacy, and a runaway bride.

pooja bhatt and mahesh bhatt old photos Pooja Bhatt’s unfiltered interviews about his relationship with his family and his father Mahesh Bhatt have often attracted attention. (Photo: Archives Express)

Pooja Bhatt’s films were probably just a portrayal of his fearless off-camera character. The actor not only sculpted his own brand of cinema, but also created an image shamelessly and without excuse. Some even called her one of the most controversial actresses of her time. Whether it’s his daring photoshoots or his bolder interviews, it doesn’t matter what Pooja hit in the headlines.

Take for example the cover of Pooja on Cineblitz that said “I’m not a virgin!” at her photoshoot with a handful of male models for Stardust with the caption, “The New Morality,” each boasting about Pooja’s newly acquired fiery status. While her bikini photos quickly became the new normal, Pooja had no qualms about swimming against the tide. Even if that meant inviting the fury to display body painting for Movie magazine in 1993. The text reads: “Pooja dares to appear in her birthday costume!”

controversial pooja bhatt magazine photos Pooja Bhatt was a popular choice for several magazine covers in the 1990s.

Pooja, however, took the nation by storm, when she posed kissing her father Mahesh Bhatt for Filmfare, an image that continues to remain fresh in our memories. The headline of the article quoted Bhatt as saying, “If Pooja wasn’t my daughter, I would have loved to marry her.” But, Pooja remained unfazed with all the hue and cry.

While she almost stopped acting after the 2010 film Everyone Says I’m Alright, she continued to choose topics that could be called “ taboo ” by many in Bollywood. She turned to the cinema by supporting films on the femme fatale like Jism, Rog and Paap (also director). Pooja ultimately helped bring models turned actors like Sunny Leone, Udita Goswami and Ilene Hamann to Bollywood.

The point to note is that each of his projects sported an unusual frankness, depicting strong female characters who were not guilty of their desires and dreams.

As much as Pooja’s on-screen work reflected her own personality, she also revealed her personal life to her fans. From her business and her links with several actors (without taking names here) to her famous argument with her partner Ranvir Shorey with whom she would have had an “abusive relationship”. The two stars were taped and spoke about their side of the story on that fateful night they called for an end.

In a report on Rediff.com dated December 2002, Ranvir said, “I was at Pooja’s. The usual brawl ensued. I decided to cancel the relationship. Things got out of hand… ”

Pooja then married the former Channel [V] VJ and restaurateur Manish Makhija in 2003 in Goa, after meeting on the Paap plateau. After 11 years, however, they broke up and Pooja announced their separation on Twitter.

Later, she told indianexpress.com, “It was a wonderful marriage as long as it lasted, then I decided, as it fell, to take a healthy break. And I stuck with the choice I made. But I was able to make that decision because at one point I was also very independent – financially and in my head.

While Pooja stayed away from the spotlight, the columns on the front page did not leave her. The actor has spoken to her many times fight against alcoholism and finally get sober in 2017. Mumbai Mirror wrote in an article: “Pooja saw what alcohol did to his father, how he killed his parents’ marriage. She had had a relationship with an alcoholic and had put it in the news. She had lost a friend at 40 to alcohol and had a drink to mourn her.

Pooja had also revealed writing his fight with alcohol in a book soon. Every year, she also celebrates giving up alcohol on social media. His tweet from last year read: “Four years sober today! It used to be pink champagne, malt and crowded city bars. Now it’s pink skies and deserted country roads. What a rewarding and burning journey this has been. Gratitude for life and the divine strength that has watched over me, has kept me true, vulnerable, strong. #sobrietyrocks »

pooja bhatt bombay begums Pooja Bhatt returns to acting in its own right with the Netflix series Bombay Begums. (Photo: Netflix)

Pooja’s life is and remains an open book. Whether it was her relationship with her stepsister Alia Bhatt or her father Mahesh Bhatt, Pooja has never shied away from speaking from her heart and mind.

Pooja, who made an appearance in his father’s latest director Sadak 2 (2020), will make a full-fledged comeback soon with the web series directed by Alankrita Shrivastava Bombay Begums.

As the strong lady of the Bhatt team turns 49 today, we wish her more power and fearlessness. Happy birthday, Pooja Bhatt!

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Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from indianexpress.com

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