Pooja Gandhi

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Pooja Gandhi
Puja during Karimedu film promotion.jpg
Sanjana Gandhi

(1983-10-07) 7 October 1983 (age 38)[1]
Political party

Pooja Gandhi (born Sanjana Gandhi in 1983)[3] is an Indian film actress, who mainly works in Kannada, Hindi and Tamil language films.[4][5] Pooja Gandhi after starring in the commercially successful 2006 film Mungaru Male, became one of the most popular and highest paid actresses in Kannada cinema and also the recipient of several awards, including an honarary Doctorate.[6][7][8][9] Gandhi is popularly referred as Male Hudugi (Rain Girl) in the media and Kannada film industry.[10][11] Gandhi has acted in over five languages and 50 films in a decade.[12][13][14][4] The Banglore Times placed her in the list of "25 Most Desirable Women of 2012".[15][16]

Gandhi made her acting debut in 2001 with the Hindi film Khatron Ke Khiladi opposite Raj Babbar.[17] Since then, she has played lead roles in commercially successful films such as Mungaru Male (2006), Milana (2007), Krishna (2007), Taj Mahal (2008), Budhivanta (2008), Anu (2009), Gokula (2009), Dandupalya (2012), Dandupalya 2 (2017) and Dandupalya 3 (2018).[18] Following the success of a series of films, she established herself as one of the leading actresses of Kannada cinema.[19][20]

In 2016, Gandhi received an honorary doctorate award by the Governing Council of Confederation of International Accreditation Commission - CIAC in affiliation with KEISIE International University - South Korea, for her contribution to Kannada film industry.[6][21]

She joined the Janata Dal (Secular) party in 2012 by taking the membership of the party.[22] She soon hopped onto KJP party and later to the BSR Congress party and contested the Karnataka assembly elections from Raichur constituency.[23] However, she was defeated in the elections and did not win any seat from the constituency.[24]

Early years and personal life[edit]

Gandhi was born in Meerut[25] and brought up in Dehli[2] into a traditional Punjabi family. Her father, Pawan Gandhi, is a businessman and her mother, Jyothi Gandhi, is a housewife. She studied at Sophia Convent and Dewan Public School in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. She has two younger sisters – Radhika Gandhi, who is also an actress in Kannada films, and Suhani Gandhi, a tennis player.[25][26] Gandhi started her career as a model by acting in advertisements and television series with Awaz (a remake of Lost in Hindi language) and a serial Zameen Se Aassman Tak, directed by Aruna Irani.[2]

Gandhi got engaged in November 2012 with realter Anand Gowda but ended the relationship the following month.[27][28]


Debut (2001)[edit]

Gandhi during shooting of Tamil film Kokki in 2006

Gandhi started her career by acting in TV soaps, starting with Zameen Se Aassman Tak directed by Aruna Irani.[25] She made her acting debut at the age of 18 in the Hindi film Khatron Ke Khiladi released in 2001. Later appeared in Bengali film Tomake Salam in 2003, She moved to the South Indian film industry with the Tamil film Kokki (2006). The film earned moderate reviews and had a successful run at the box office.[26]

Initial success and fame in Kannada (2006–08)[edit]

Gandhi during shooting of Mungaru Male film in 2006

Gandhi debut in the Kannada film industry was with Mungaru Male,[29] The film was the first in India for any language to be screened for continuously one year in a multiplex,[30] and ultimately ran over 865-days[31] in Karnataka.[32][33] And it was collected over ₹75 crore in its lifetime theatrical run at Indian box office. It went to become highest grossing South Indian film during its time of release.[34] Gandhi has received applause for her character in the film as Nandini. Indicine.com's critic states that "Sanjana makes a confident debut".[35] She then acted in the movie Milana with Puneeth Rajkumar, upon theatrical release on 14 September 2007, the film saw commercial success and completed a 500-day run in theatres. Later the film was dubbed into Malayalam as Ishtam Enikkishtam.[36] In the same year Gandhi acted in Krishna film with her Mungaru male co-star Ganesh, it was the financial hit at the box office by completing 100-days. It marked as the second consecutive hit of the Ganesh and Gandhi pair after Mungaru Male.[37] The Krishna marked her hat-trick 100-days film in her career in kannada film industry.[37]

In 2008, she starred in the financially successful[38] Kannada language film Taj Mahal with Ajay Rao, which ran over 200 days in couple of centers of Karnataka.[39][38] She was nominated for a Filmfare Best Actress Award, while Sify's critic wrote that "Pooja Gandhi looks pretty and has done a good job.[40] rediff.com editor Vijaysarathy claims that "Pooja Gandhi looks stunning and has worked hard to give a strong performance".[41] Her next movie was Budhivanta alongside Upendra. It became the highest grossing Kannada film of 2008 and completed 100-days in main centres of Karnataka.[42][43]

Series of commercial failures (2009–2011)[edit]

Gandhi went on to act in more than dozen of films in several languages including Kannada film industry, most of them went on to become commercially un-successful at the box office.[44]

In 2010, Gandhi made her Telugu debut through the Mukkanti film opposite Nandamuri Taraka Ratna, along with Poorna. Which went on to become a financial failure at the box office.[45]

In 2011, she acted her second film in Hindi with I Am, together with Juhi Chawla. 'I Am' received mainly positive reviews from critics and audience upon the theatrical release. The Times of India called it "an important and intelligent film"[46] and The Film Street Journal named it "a must watch".[47] In 2012 'I Am' won the National Award for Best Hindi Film and Best Lyrics.[48]

Critical acclaim and box office success (2012–18)[edit]

Gandhi during inauguration of hotel spa in Bangalore in 2015

In 2012, Gandhi made a comeback through the female oriented film Dandupalya, which went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of Kannada industry[49] and completed 100 days theatrical run in both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.[50][51][52][53] And it collected over ₹40 crore[50][54] against budget of ₹3 crore.[55][56] Gandhi received Filmfare Award for Best Kannada Actress and Suvarna Fimfare Award for Best Actress for her performance in Dandupalya.[49] The film was dubbed in Telugu and released as Dandupalyam. It was well received in Andhra Pradesh.[57][58][59][60] A Tamil dub titled Karimedu was produced by Rama Narayanan's Sri Thenandal Films and released on 24 May 2013 to critical acclaim. it was hit in Tamil Nadu.[61][62] The film was dubbed in Malayalam and was titled as Kuruthikalam.[63] Critics heaped praise on Gandhi for her performance. Rediff.com claimed that she was "walks away with acting honours. She is a stunner with her vain looks sans makeup throughout the movie and she has lived her role exceptionally well."[64] while DNA's critic wrote that "viewers should not miss out on Pooja’s performance."[65] Business Standard's critic stated that "Pooja Gandhi as the leader of the gang is brilliant and extremely confident in her role. While some may typecast her performance as cheap and unwelcoming, I believe it takes guts for a regular heroine to shed her image and agree to play such a gritty part. She definitely deserves special mention for proving cliches wrong."[66] The Times of India's critic stated that "Pooja Gandhi walks away with full honours."[67]

In 2013, Gandhi made her debut in Malayalam film with Maad Dad (2013) together with Lal and Meghana Raj.[68] Then she becomes Item number for the Mata fame Guruprasad's directed Kannada film Director's Special (2013). According to sources said that Gandhi had rejected a request to do a special song in Devarane film, following days Pooja accepted this offer only because director Guruprasad wrote this song keeping me in mind. That makes it special, she appears in the song as Chanchal Champakali.[69][70] In 2015, she starred and produced a film Abhinetri, also she introduced as Producer.[71]

In 2017, she starred in the Dandupalya 2,[72] which was the sequel of her previous film Dandupalya. In 2018 her next film was Dandupalya 3 or III, which was simultaneously released in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages.[73][74] acts along with almost same cast and crew.[75] Gandhi received critical acclaim from critics and audience for her performance in the film. The writer Sunayana Suresh of The Times of India, stated "Pooja Gandhi in her uninhibited avatar is another person who deserves applause."[76] The writer Sharadha of New Indian Express, stated that "Pooja Gandhi wins over the audience with her powerful performance."[77]


Gandhi joined the Janata Dal (Secular) (JDS) party on 18 January 2012.[78]

She then joined briefly the KJP, but she finally contested the 2013 Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections from Raichur on a BSR Congress ticket. This first attempt at public office proved unsuccessful.[79]


Gandhi and Gandhi's film Dandupalya, criticised by social group Bahujan Samaj Horata Samiti for her controversial scene in this film, who claimed that its content was offensive. They objected specifically to the film's portrayal of women. Further controversy followed when it was revealed that actress Pooja Gandhi would appear topless in the film.[80][81]

After the release of the movie, Ambedkar Kranthi Sena activists demonstrated in Bengaluru against the film's "glorification of anti-social activities".[82][83]

"According to the dictionary, nudity means that you are not covered with a single item of clothing from head to toe. But in this scene, I have worn a sari and I am trying to cover my body, except for my back".

says Gandhi about her controversial scene in the film[84]


Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Film Role Language Notes Ref.
2001 Khatron Ke Khiladi Sangeeta Hindi Hindi debut [17]
2002 Dushmani Pooja [85]
2003 Tomake Salam Ankita Bengali Bengali debut [86]
2006 Kokki Raji Tamil Tamil debut [87]
Mungaru Male Nandini Kannada Kannada debut [88]
2007 Milana Priya [89]
Krishna Pooja Suvarna Film Awards for Best Actress [90]
Manmatha Herself Special appearance
Thottal Poo Malarum Herself Tamil Special appearance in the song "Vaadi Vambu Pennae"
Geleya Herself Kannada Special appearance in song "Hudugi Malebillu" [91]
2008 Vaitheeswaran Sanjana Tamil [92]
Hani Hani Pooja Kannada [93]
Accident Pooja
Kaamannana Makkalu Herself Special appearance in the song "Mungaru Male" [94]
Nee Tata Naa Birla Pooja
Taj Mahal Shruthi Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Kannada Actress [95]
Kodagana Koli Nungitha Lakshmi
Budhivanta Pooja [96]
Maharshi Manasa Veena
Janumada Gelathi Manjula
Thiruvannamalai Malathy Tamil
Haage Summane Nandini Kannada Special appearance
2009 Anu Anu
Thalai Ezhuthu Pooja Tamil [97]
Iniya Janaki Kannada
Huchchi Preethi
Ninagaagi Kaadiruve Shweta Nandan
Gokula Leela
2010 Minugu Sanchitha
Sri Harikathe Pooja Krishnamurthy
Nee Raani Naa Maharani Rani /
Pooja Gandhi
Vega herself
Mukkanti Geeta Telugu Telugu Debut [45]
2011 Thavarina Runa Ramya Kannada
Aptha Anjali Devi
Nee Illadhe Sharanya
I Am Aparna Hindi
Hare Rama Hare Krishna Rakshita Kannada
Panchamrutha Prithi
Jogayya Advocate Cameo appearance [98]
Paagal Pooja
2012 Dandupalya Lakshmi Suvarna Film Award for Best Actress
SIIMA Award for Best Actress in a Negative Role
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actress
Jaihind Anjali [100]
Hosa Prema Purana Herself Special appearance in the song "sye sye Monika"
2013 Maad Dad Lisa Malayalam Malayalam debut [101]
Director's Special Herself Kannada Item number "Kannalle eshottu kolltiya" [102]
2014 Kalyanamasthu Radha
2015 Abhinetri Sharat Lata / Nanda Also producer [103]
Thippaji Circle Thippajji
2016 Kathe Chitrakathe Nirdeshana Puttanna Herself Guest appearance [104]
2017 Jilebi Jilebi [105]
Dandupalya 2 Kempi Dubbed in to Telugu as Dandupalyam 2 [106]
2018 Dandupalya 3 Lakshmi Dubbed in to Telugu as Dandupalyam 3 [107]
2021 Samhaarini Films that have not yet been released
post production [108]
Taggede Le Films that have not yet been released
Telugu Post production [109]

As producer[edit]

Title Year Language Notes Ref.
Abhinetri 2015 Kannada Debut as film producer [110]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards won 4
Nominations 6


Year[lower-alpha 1] Category Award Film Result
2008 Best Actress Suvarna Film Awards Krishna Won[90]
2009 Best Actress Filmfare Awards South Taj Mahal Nominated[95]
2010 Most popular Actress Suvarna Film Awards Gokula Won[111]
2013 Best Actress in a Negative Role South Indian International Movie Awards Dandupalya Won[112]
Best Actress in a negative role Filmfare Awards South Nominated[113]
Best Actress Suvarna Film Awards Won[49]
  1. Refers to the year in which the ceremony was held.

Television shows[edit]

No Year Title Television Notes
1 2016 Bigg Boss Kannada 3 Colors Kannada Finale contestant


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External links[edit]