After winning the Miss India U.S.A. pageant, Pooja was selected by Amitabh Bachchan Corp. Ltd, as one of the budding new stars out of 60,000 contestants. Later she became a video disc jockey for Channel V but eventually returned to her true passion, acting. In pursuit of this dream, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has acted as the main lead in 17 feature films: five in Tamil including huge blockbuster hits such as Vishwaroopam, Vishwaroopam 2 and Uttama Villain with the iconic and legendary actor Kamal Hasan. Mr. Hasan has been heralded as one of the best actors in the Indian film industry to ever grace the silver screen. Pooja has also acted in “Kaadhal Rojave,” “Chota Jadugar”(also in 3-D); in English, “Flavors”, “Night of Henna”, “Park Sharks”, “Hiding Divya’, “Anything For You”, “Knots Urbane”, “Bollywood Beats”, and “Drawing with Chalk”. Pooja was recently on the hit TV Series called “Unforgettable” which aired on CBS. She was in “Man on a Ledge”, an American thriller action film directed by Asger Leth, starring Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Edward Burns, Anthony Mackie, Génesis Rodríguez and Ed Harris. Pooja has also played a District Attorney on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit with Kal Penn known for the Harold and Kumar Goes to White Castle Franchise. In “Bollywood Hero”, Pooja stars opposite the famous and witty American comedian, Chris Kattan. She plays Chris’s romantic lead and love interest on a journey to India to become a Bollywood star. The project premiered on the IFC Network while Keanu Reeves, Maya Rudolph, and Adam Samberg have all made special appearances in the three-part TV Mini-Series. This show has been heralded as one of the funniest romantic comedies.
For her role in “Flavors” she received the Screen Actor’s Guild Emerging Actor Award. Her performance in “Night of Henna” has been widely appreciated, especially by A.O. Scott of the New York Times, who wrote that Kumar has an “unassuming loveliness about her role.”
Pooja is also very proud of her work in a film called “Hiding Divya,” with Madhur Jaffrey, which centers around three generations of women and how they deal with mental illness. These issues are especially prevalent these days, as they are more widely acknowledged than ever before and affect millions of people.
Another film in which Pooja played a challenging role is called “Drawing with Chalk.” This is a tale of a couple trying to deal with the harsh realities of life while trying to fulfill their dreams at the same time. “Drawing with Chalk” has played in numerous film festivals and critics have raved about Pooja’s performance.
In “Bollywood Beats,” Pooja plays a woman from India who’s had an arranged marriage and is now trying to cope with living the suburban life in the US. This film is about an Indian guy whose vision is to make bollywood dance his life and comes across five women who allow him to realize his dream. This film also features two of India’s top prominent actresses, Lillete Dubey and Sarita Joshi.
Pooja has been recognized in major ad campaigns for Pepsi, Budweiser, American On-Line, Verizon, Bombay Dreams, Dodge, TATA True Roots, Outback Steakhouse, Pearl Vision, New York Lotto, First Response, and PayPal. She also served as host for a comedic show for ImaginAsian TV called “Movies for the ImaginAsian,” on which she introduces Chinese, Japanese, and Bollywood films to second generation Asians. Another show she hosted was called “Jaago aur Jeeto”, which means stay awake and win – this aired on one of India’s biggest television networks called ZeeTV. It was a 2 hour LIVE game show in which callers would call in to win prizes for playing various games. Pooja had to improvise in English and Hindi.
Pooja has also produced and starred in two short films called “1001 Auditions” and “Shoot My Life.” “1001 Auditions” has been featured in over 15 international film festivals and has been nominated for the best short film at the Stuttgart film festival in Germany.
Pooja also received the Actor of the Year Award from Anokhi magazine in February 2010 for her contribution to entertainment and media.