Pooja Hegde is an Indian actress and model, who finished as the second runner-up at the Miss Universe India competition in 2010. Achieving recognition as a model, Pooja then made her foray into acting with South Indian films. She made her acting debut in Mysskin`s
Tamil movie, Mugamoodi
. The movie released in 2012 and it had Jiiva
and Girish Karnad
in pivotal roles.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Pooja is a native of Mangalore. She fluently speaks Hindi, Tulu, Kannada, Marathi, and English. She completed her schooling from Maneckji Cooper Education Trust School and is an M.Com graduate from MMK College, Mumbai. Pooja developed her networking skills while she helped her mother in her network marketing business, while she was still in college. She also regularly participated in inter-college dance and fashion competitions, which further boosted her confidence.
Before making a mark in the film industry, Pooja began her journey as a model. Her modeling career took off in a topsy-turvy manner as she had to suffer an early exit from Miss India 2009 competition despite winning the title of Miss India Talented 2009. However, the following year, Pooja re-applied in the competition and went on to become the runner-up at Miss India 2010 competition. She also bagged the title of Miss India South Glamorous Hair 2010 in the subsidiary competition. Following her success at the competition, Pooja entered the acting world and made her acting debut with Mysskin`s
Tamil superhero movie, Mugamoodi
(2012). Pooja`s debut role: Pooja portrayed the character of a fun-loving girl, Shakthi, who changes the lead character, Anandan`s (portrayed by Jiiva
) perspective towards the society.
Mysskin selected Pooja to play the lead after scanning through her photographs from the Miss India event. To attain fluency in Tamil, Pooja practiced writing the words in English and the similarities in Tamil and her native language, Tulu, helped her prepare for the role. Being a Tamil superhero movie, it generated immense curiosity amongst the audience. However, the movie failed to impress the audience and opened to negative reviews. Pooja`s performance was also criticized, with The Hindu quoting "she doesn`t have much scope for talent display."
Two years later, in 2012, Pooja appeared in the Telugu movie, Oka Laila Kosam
, opposite Naga Chaitanya
. Impressing everyone with her performance, Pooja was highly praised for her acting. She also took Telugu lessons for her role. After a gap of two years, in 2014, Pooja appeared in her second Telugu movie, Mukunda
, directed by Srikanth Addala
. The movie marked the debut of actor Varun Tej
, the nephew of actor Chiranjeevi
, and received a positive response at the box office.
In the same year, Pooja bagged a lead role in Ashutosh Gowarikar`s
period drama, Mohenjo Daro
, opposite Hrithik Roshan
. The movie is scheduled to release in August 2016. It was Ashutosh Gowarikar`s wife, Sunita, who spotted Pooja in an advertisement and later called her to audition for the role. Being committed to work in her debut Bollywood movie, Pooja revealed that she would not sign any regional movie until Mohenjo Daro is released. More so, she even rejected an opportunity to work with the acclaimed director, Mani Ratnam
. In 2017 the actress appeared alongside Allu Arjun
in the Telugu movie Duvvada Jagannadham
directed by Harish Shankar
. Her 2018 releases include Rangasthalam
, Race 3
and Aravindha Sametha
. In 2019 she played a lead role in the comedy Housefull 4
. Her 2020 release includes Angu Vaikuntapurathu
, directed by Trivikram Srinivas
. Her other notable works include Most Eligible Bachelor (2021), Radhe Shyam (2022), Beast (2022), Acharya (2022), Cirkus (2022) and Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan (2023).