Poorna Goes Bollywood. How it Happened.

Poorna Jagannathan photo by Amyn Hooda
Poorna Jagannathan photo by Amyn Hooda

The scene:

As she dashed for a plane headed to Mumbai for the release of Delhi Belly, we managed to catch up with Poorna Jagannathan moments before her flight. (Ok, grant us some dramatic license, it was actually days.)

We first chatted with Poorna in late 2010, when we listed her in our 10 to Watch in 2011. Now she’s jet setting en route to the release of her first Bollywood film

Here’s our catch up conversation which once again showed us why we have mad love for her.

RoB: How did this happen? Sitting in LA, how did you end up in a Bollywood movie –  and one backed by Aamir Khan at that.

Poorna: It was like a scene from a… Bollywood movie. I was playing blackjack at an event and the prize was two tickets to India. I won and ended up at a wedding where I ran into Arjun Bhashin who was doing costumes for the film. He said, I think there might be a movie and you might be the right person for it.

I had a bit of resistance to Bollywood, but the writer, Akshat Verma was based out of LA and I liked that.

RoB: What was it like meeting Aamir Khan?

A little intimidating before meeting him, but he is an amazing talented, wise and smart man. And he takes risks, which is why Delhi Belly got made.

RoB: When did you know that you had the part?

Poorna: It was a long process. From the first audition till we started started shooting 8 months later –    there was never a point when I thought I had it.

RoB: Can you tell us a bit about the filming?

Poorna: We filmed for 4 months. The Mumbai bombings happened at that time – so we were on hold during shooting. Right after the bombings we had these scenes in hotels with guns and we had to stop.

One of the best things that happened – and the reason why things came together with the actors –  is that there was a month long workshop for the film so the actors could get to know each other.  The writing is so quick witted and the characters had to have a sense of knowing each other for a long time so this really helped us make that believable.

RoB: Why do you think this film is special?

Poorna: The writing is inspired. And the editing is it’s own entity. It’s such a well edited film. The acting is of the highest caliber. Every actor held their own and that’s an amazing feeling. It’s the combination of all three that makes this great.

RoB: Do you have a favorite moment during the filming?

Poorna: Absolutely – it’s more an experience. I didn’t have any scenes with Vijay Raaz,  (Monsoon Wedding)  but I would go earlier than my call time and hang out with him. He only spoke in Hindi and I spoke in English. I don’t think we ever understood each other but he’s such an amazing person and actor that it was inspirational to hang out with him regardless.

RoB: What do you want to tell people about Delhi Belly?

Poorna: This is a game changing film – The writing and editing are exceptional. It’s 80% English which is a huge risk.  It’s a film about risk – the writer, Akshat shopped it around for a while and since it wasn’t a typical Bollywood film, it wasn’t an easy sell.

And they had no reason to cast me. They wanted an Indian from India, not an NRI. But, I was cast. So, it’s a film about taking chances.

RoB: Sounds awesome Poorna. Thanks for chatting. Enjoy India and we’ll catch up with you when you get back.

Delhi Belly opens this Friday, July 1 worldwide.

Check out the uncensored trailer here

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