At the other end of the phone, Poonam Bajwa sounds calm and happy. Her movie Masterpiece, in which she acts alongside Mammootty, is slated for release and Poonam is quite happy that she could do a different role in the movie. She plays the role of a professor. “It is for the first time I play a professor’s role. So far, I have been the student,” she chuckles. “I was looking forward to this character and hoping that I would be a strict teacher. However, I got the exact opposite. Smitha (her character) is a sweet person, who is popular on campus. “But, it was really nice doing that character, though my fantasy of throwing someone out of class still remains,” she quips.
Her part was primarily shot at a campus in Kollam and Poonam had an amazing time there. “It is a beautiful place. The weather was beautiful. Most of my shooting was in and around the campus. It was quite a nice atmosphere with so many students and actors around. I didn’t even realise the shooting was over. It was a happy shooting,” recalls Poonam. She could relive her campus days and recall the pranks she had done as a college student. But, with a smile, the actor says the shooting days didn’t encourage her to yearn for more college days. “I am done with studying and being thrown out of class,” she laughs.
Poonam is one of those lucky actors who got the opportunity to start her career in Malayalam with the big shots of the industry. Her first film Shikkari, a bilingual made in Kannada and Malayalam, was with Mammootty. She was again paired with him in Venicile Vyapari. Masterpiece is her third film with the actor. “It is always amazing to work with him,” she says. “You can learn things just by watching him, like his commitment to the craft. He is surely an inspiration for any actor. I still remember my apprehensions during my first movie with him. I was intimidated. That movie had my longest dialogue. It was nerve-wracking for me. But, he was very cool about it. His inputs would make your work easier. He is actually chill to work with,” she adds.
Poonam has shared screen space with Mohanlal in Peruchazhi and China Town. She was also seen in Manthrikan, Rosapookalam and Zacharia Pothen Jeevichirippundu. “I have acted with pretty much everyone. China Town had almost half of the industry. I really enjoyed being on that set. There would always be gatherings, fun, games and some magic tricks. I have never done a shooting like that. I have been very lucky to act alongside the big stars of Malayalam cinema. ‘Touchwood’,” she adds. In Peruchazhi, she was seen in a special song. “That was a unique experience. For the first time I was doing something of that sort. I really loved doing that although I was double-minded, whether to do it or not. But,
I am glad that I went ahead with that. I treasure that experience. I have no regrets. I am very proud of the choices I have made in Malayalam,” says Poonam, who loves the industry. “I love every moment of it,” she says. “It is like my home. I don’t feel that I am away from home. Everyone is warm and welcoming and I have been given a lot of respect.” And, she is happy that Malayalis have accepted her. “The response has been way beyond than what I expected. No one treated me like I was someone from Mumbai. Somewhere, there was a connection. And, a lot of people said I look like a Malayali,” says Poonam.
Brought up in Mumbai, Poonam forayed into acting by chance. And surprisingly, she kicked off her career in Telugu and then expanded her world to Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. “I never imagined I would start my career with the South Indian film industry. It just happened and I was happy with the process and I didn’t want to change it,” says the actor, who is also interested in spirituality. “This has been my area of interest for the past one-and-a-half years. I do chanting, yoga and meditation and read books based on that. It has helped me to learn to balance things in life.”...