|Born||13 October 1990|
|Alma mater||M. M. K. College|
Pooja Hegde (born 13 October 1990) is an Indian actress and model who appears predominantly in Telugu and Hindi films. She was crowned as the second runner-up at the Miss Universe India 2010 competition. She made her debut in Tamil film Mysskin's Mugamoodi (2012). She made her Telugu film debut alongside Naga Chaitanya in Oka Laila Kosam. In 2016, she made her Hindi film debut alongside Hrithik Roshan in Ashutosh Gowariker's Mohenjo Daro.
She then went onto to play the lead in successful films such as Mukunda (2014), Duvvada Jagannadham (2017), Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava (2018), Maharishi (2019), Gaddalakonda Ganesh (2019), Housefull 4 (2019) and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020).
Pooja Hegde was born and brought up in Mumbai, Maharashtra in a Tulu-speaking Bunt family. Her parents Manjunath Hegde and Latha Hegde. They are originally from Udupi, Karnataka. She also has an elder brother Rishabh Hegde, who is an orthopaedic surgeon. She is fluent in Kannada, English, Hindi, Tulu and Tamil. She went to M. M. K. College, where she regularly participated in dance and fashion shows.
2009–2013: Career beginnings
Hegde competed in the Miss India 2009 competition, but was eliminated in an early round despite winning the Miss India Talented 2009 honour. She re-applied the following year and was the second runner-up in the Miss Universe India 2010 competition, while also being crowned Miss India South Glamorous Hair 2010 in the subsidiary competition.
She made her acting debut in Mysskin's Tamil superhero film Mugamoodi (2012) opposite Jiiva, portraying the female lead character of Shakthi, a fun-loving girl who inspires the male lead to change his outlook on society. She was selected after Mysskin had seen still photographs from her pageant success, and Hegde helped practice Tamil dialogue for the film by writing and memorising words in English, adding that the similarity between Tamil and her native tongue Tulu was also useful. Prior to release, the film garnered high expectations as a result of the novel theme of a superhero in Tamil films and the film took a grand opening at the box office in August 2012. However, the film received mixed to negative reviews from critics, hampering its progress, and the film ended up becoming a surprise commercial failure. Hegde's performance also received mixed reviews with a critic from Sify.com citing that she "disappoints", though a critic from The Hindu noted "she doesn’t have much scope for talent display. She earned a nomination for the Best Tamil Female Debut Actress at the 2nd South Indian International Movie Awards, but lost out to Lakshmi Menon.
2014–2019: Debut in Telugu and Hindi cinema
Hegde's second film release, the Telugu film Oka Laila Kosam (2014), featured her opposite Naga Chaitanya. She was praised for her performance in the movie. Around the same time, she bagged the nomination for Best Actress at the 62nd Filmfare Awards (South). Following a production house and the success of the director Vijay Konda's previous venture, had prompted her to work on the project. She undertook Telugu lessons to help her portray the leading female role. In her second Telugu film, Hegde impressed many with her memorable performance in Gopikamma song from Mukunda (2014). It was a romantic-action tale, set in the backdrop of a village, released in late 2014.
In July 2014, Hegde agreed terms to make her Bollywood debut opposite Hrithik Roshan in Ashutosh Gowariker's period film Mohenjo Daro, set against the backdrop of the Indus Valley civilisation. She was selected after Gowariker's wife had spotted her in an advertisement and called her to audition, which she successfully completed. As a result of her commitment to the film, she revealed that she would take a break from appearing in regional Indian movies until her Hindi film's release and rejected an opportunity to work in a film directed by Mani Ratnam. Mohenjo Daro released in 2016 which was panned by critics and became major box office flop. In 2017, she appeared in Telugu-language vigilante action comedy film Duvvada Jagannadham alongside actor Allu Arjun.
In 2018, Hegde featured in three Telugu films. The first is a Special appearance in the song "Jigelu Rani" for the period action Rangasthalam. Later in Saakshyam, alongside Bellamkonda Sreenivas and Trivikram Srinivas-directed action-drama Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava, opposite Jr. NTR. In 2019 too, she made an appearance in three films which are Maharshi, Gaddalakonda Ganesh and Housefull 4. Maharshi is a Telugu film directed by Vamsi Paidipally co-starring by Mahesh Babu. It received mixed reviews on release. Her second Telugu film in the same year was action-thriller the Harish Shankar-directed action thriller film Gaddalakonda Ganesh, a remake of the 2014 Tamil-language film Jigarthanda, featuring Varun Tej and Atharvaa along with her. Hegde returned to Bollywood after a gap of three years with Sajid Nadiadwala's comedy film directed by Farhad Samji, featuring her as Rajkumari Mala and Pooja (reincarnated), which went on to gross over ₹280 crore worldwide.
2020–present: Commercial success and future films
Her 2020 Telugu-language action drama film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, alongside Allu Arjuna and directed by Trivikram, became one of the highest-grossing Telugu films of all time, grossing over ₹250 crore.
Her upcoming projects include a romantic multilingual film Radhe Shyam with Prabhas and Most Eligible Bachelor, directed by Bommarillu Bhaskar opposite Akhil Akkineni and produced by Bunny Vasu and Vasu Varma. In February 2020, Hegde is cast in Salman Khan's upcoming film Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali, directed by Farhad Samji.
In March 2021, Hegde acted in Koratala Siva-directed film Acharya, alongside Chiranjeevi, Kajal Aggarwal and Ram Charan. She also acted in Cirkus opposite Ranveer Singh. She was also the lead in Vijay's Beast directed by Nelson Dilipkumar, marking her return to Tamil cinema after nine years.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2014||Oka Laila Kosam||Nandana||Telugu||Telugu debut|||
|2016||Mohenjo Daro||Chaani||Hindi||Hindi debut|||
|2018||Rangasthalam||Herself||Telugu||Special appearance in the song "Jigelu Rani"|||
|Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava||Aravinda||Telugu|||
|Housefull 4||Rajkumari Mala / Pooja||Hindi|||
|2021||Most Eligible Bachelor||Vibha||Telugu|||
Awards and nominations
|2013||Mugamoodi||South Indian International Movie Awards||Best Female Debutant – Tamil||Nominated|||
|2015||Oka Laila Kosam||South Indian International Movie Awards||Best Female Debut – Telugu||Nominated|||
|2015||Filmfare Awards South||Best Actress – Telugu||Nominated|||
|2016||Mohenjo Daro||Stardust Awards||Best Debut – Female||Nominated|||
|2017||Duvvada Jagannadham||Zee Golden Awards||Entertainer Of The Year (Female)||Won|||
|2019||Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava||Filmfare Awards South||Best Actress – Telugu||Nominated|||
|2020||Maharshi||South Indian International Movie Awards||Best Actress – Telugu||Nominated|||
|2020||Zee Cine Awards Telugu||Favourite Actress||Won|||
|2021||Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo||Sakshi Excellence Awards||Best Actress||Won|||
|2021||South Indian International Movie Awards||Best Actress – Telugu||Won|||
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- "Pooja Hegde's Rajkumari Mala adds another pretty princess to Housefull 4's roster". Hindustan Times. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
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