She started her journey in showbiz with an adventure reality show and went on to work in some of the most talked about television and web shows made in the last couple of years. In this exclusive interview, Pooja Banerjee talks about her eventful journey in the entertainment industry, why she is of the opinion that reality shows not help aspiring actors further their career, reprising a popular character in ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’, the difference between working on TV and web and plans to open a swimming academy.
You started out with ‘MTV Roadies’, an adventure reality show. Do you think it helped you get an entry in the industry?
No, I do not think reality shows help aspiring actors make inroads into the industry. I participated in ‘Roadies Season 8’ and I am the only person from that season who has been working in the industry actively. I was persistent and worked really hard to get where I am today. Reality shows might give you some exposure but you need to be talented and hard-working enough to get into the industry and sustain yourself.
Swimming has been an integral part of your personality. Do you plan to take it forward?
Yes, I have some plans to take it forward. My husband is a national champion swimmer and is a coach as well. He retired from professional swimming recently. Together, we plan to open our own academy soon.
In ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’, you have reprised the popular character of Nivedita Basu. Were you worried about comparisons?
I have seen the original ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’ as a child but did not watch it again to do research. It is a reboot of the original show but has a different flavour to it. The entire team made an effort to make sure that Nivedita Basu in this show comes across as different from the one that was there in the original. I was told that I had to come across as a strong character.
You have been a part of a web show too. How has been the experience of working in the digital space?
It has been a really good experience so far. Web shows are slowly gaining popularity. I did ‘Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain’ on ALTBalaji and I will also be seen in the second season of the show. I play a teenager in that show and interestingly, in another web show that I am doing, I will be playing a teenager again.
What is the major difference between TV and the digital medium?
Actors are asked to go a little over-the-top while shooting for a TV show. When it comes to web, you are expected to be a little realistic and subtle. Every day, I shoot for ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’ in the morning and then I shoot for my web show in the evening. I wear a lot of makeup in ‘Kasautii Zindagiii Kay’ and have a no-makeup look in ‘Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain 2’. Doing a web-series is always a little more exciting than doing a TV show as there is a scope for lot of new stories to be told there.
You love swimming, riding bikes and have been on an adventure reality show. Was it difficult for a person like you to do daily soaps?
No, I am a malleable person and I mould myself according to the kind of situation I am in at a particular time. I got used to the television industry and the ways in which it functions the very day I joined it. I have grown up in a middle class family in a small town. Every opportunity that I got was important to me and I tried to make the best use of it.
It is interesting to see you doing a TV and a web show at the same time.
Yes, I am also happy about the fact that in one show I am playing a very mature character and in the other show, I am playing somebody who is not mature at all.
There is another actress named Puja Banerjee in the industry. The two of you look very different but you have similar names. Do people get confused between the both of you?
Yes, they get confused all the time. A friend of mine read an article about Pooja Banerjee playing a teenager in a show and figured out it has to be me and not the other Pooja as she plays slightly older roles, so whenever people get confused between her and me, I tell them I am the younger Pooja Banerjee.
Out of all the characters you have played, which has been the closest to your heart?
Rewa from ‘Swim Team’ was the most loved character. I was doing a show where I had to wear a swimsuit. I was a little apprehensive about it as TV audience is a little conservative. I was so happy that it was received so well. I never thought I could play a seductress but I ended up playing one in ‘Chandra Nandini’. After playing Vish Kanya in that show, I felt there has been a growth in me as an actress and I can push my boundaries further. Playing Bani in ‘Kehne Ko Humsafar Hain’ was a memorable experience as I got to work with veteran actors. ‘Kasautii Zindagii Kay’ is a huge show and it has helped me reach out to a larger audience.