Poonam Dhillon has never played by the rules — not when she was at the peak of her career, and not now. The veteran actress says she likes to work at her own will, as per her own taste and pace.
Dhillon, 56, is currently working on the TV show Dil Hi Toh Hai. She is also doing a film with Luv Ranjan.
While she has been away from Bollywood since featuring in Ramaiya Vastavaiya in 2013, Dhillon has also featured in a television show called Ekk Nayi Pehchaan, as well as indulging in theatre to keep herself nusy.
“As far as Hindi movies are concerned, until I liked this Luv Ranjan film, I wasn’t very keen to do them. I did a Punjabi film also in between, it was hilarious. I keep doing whatever interests me. Now I don’t have to conform to any rules of the game,” said Dhillon.
“I do what is suitable to my time, schedule and day, and my personal life because the responsibilities are of a different type when you have two young growing up kids. So, they become priority,” she added.
But has she ever been conforming to the rules of the industry?
“No, actually not to be very honest... because even then, I did things which were non-conforming, I think. I did TV [the 2002 show Kittie Party] at a time when nobody dared to do TV and people used to say ‘It’s the end of an actor’s career’. I probably did things differently.
“But I don’t think I deliberately did things differently... I did whatever I felt comfortable doing. I would do only what my heart and conscience permitted,” said the actress, who started her “unplanned and an unpredictable” career with Trishul 40 years ago.
Narrating one incident, she said: “I remember the film Samundar . It was to be fully shot in Maldives, and the director told me, ‘You will have to be wearing a lot of costumes... I want you in a bikini’. I said, ‘No, I will not wear a bikini’. I will wear a swimming costume, wear shorts or whatever is right for the role, but I can tell you right now only that I will not be wearing itsy bitsy bikinis’.
“I will wear clothes which will look right for the beach. I was very young, but still I knew what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do... I feel proud of that.”
Now her children are also gearing up towards a career in the showbiz, and Dhillon feels happy that performers today are professional and fully trained, unlike the raw talent she was when she entered the industry.
“They know their job well, they know their language well, they know their dances well. Both my kids are kind of ready for films and I know how hard they have worked for the last three years... I came so raw that I couldn’t stand in front of the camera. Today’s kids don’t come like that. That’s why you see how good a lot of actors are in their first films,” said Dhillon.
Is she giving her children any tips?
“Well, they do listen to me. But I don’t think I need to give them tips because they are so clued in. They are obsessive about films, and they have new ways of searching on the internet. They watch international films on digital platforms, watching the best of actors and works of directors... So, they already have so much to learn from,” she said.