Pooja Gauthami Umashankar, mononymously known as Pooja, is an Indian-Sri Lankan film actress, who has appeared in Tamil films as well as Sinhalese, Malayalam and amateur films. Following a series of successful commercial ventures, Bala's Naan Kadavul saw Pooja's performance as a blind beggar praised by the critics, securing major awards, including the South Filmfare , Hiru golden Film awards ( Most popular actress ) and Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. She simultaneously worked in Sinhalese cinema and was part of several successful films like Anjalika (2006), Asai Man Piyabanna (2007), Suwanda Denuna Jeewithe (2010) and Kusa Pabha (2012), thus establishing herself as one of the leading actresses of Sinhalese cinema.
Pooja Umashankar in 2012
Pooja Gauthami Umashankar
|Spouse(s)||Prashan D. Vethakan|
Pooja's mother Sandhya is a Sinhalese and her father H. R. Umashankar is an Indian Kannadiga Hindu. Pooja's father Umashankar was at Valparai working with Hindustan Unilever Limited as a manager. After she did her pre-schooling in Sri Lanka, she came to India and went to Poornapragnya in Aldur, Chikmagalur and then to Nirmala Convent in Mysuru. Later she continued her education at Baldwin's Girls High school in Bengaluru and did graduation (B. Com) and Post Graduation (MBA) at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.
In 2016, Pooja married a Sri Lankan Tamil business man Prashan D Vethakan, in a low-key ceremony, with close family in attendance.
Pooja was introduced by a friend of her to cinematographer-turned-director Jeeva, who signed her for the role of Anglo-Indian girl in his Tamil venture Ullam Ketkumae. Pooja said that at that time she planned to finish that film and return to her original job and did not take an acting career into consideration. She stated: "I said to myself I'd act in just this film, see what it's like, make good use of the money and get back to studying". She was soon offered a role opposite R. Madhavan, which she could not decline and made her rethink her decision. Ullam Ketkumae's massive delay meant that her second film, the romantic comedy Jay Jay (2004), directed by Saran, became her first official release. Pooja received favorable reviews for her performance in Jay Jay; G. Ulaganathan from Deccan Herald wrote: "Spirited, lively, Pooja's sparkling eyes and smile do leave an impression". Similarly a critic from nowrunning.com noted: "[A]mong the two new heroines, it is Pooja who scores with her good performance and dances..." She next played the romantic interest of Ajith Kumar in another Saran film, Attahasam, which, in spite of mixed critical response, went on to become a financial success. Pooja, too, met with criticism, with critics citing that she had "only limited role" and was "wasted [...] in an insignificant and half-baked role". Pooja's subsequent release happened to be Ullam Ketkumae that featured her in one of the five leading roles alongside Shaam, Laila, Arya and Asin. The film fetched positive remarks and emerged as a sleeper hit. She went to appear in commercial Tamil films such as Thambi and Pori. In 2007, Pooja also appeared in a Malayalam film, Panthaya Kozhi, before landing the lead female role in Bala's Naan Kadavul. Her portrayal of Hamshavalli, a blind beggar, was critically appreciated and earned her several accolades, including the Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil and Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Character Artiste. Following Naan Kadavul, Pooja went on a sabbatical, appeared just in cameo roles in TN-07 AL 4777, Drohi and the Telugu film Orange.
She became a sensation in Sri Lankan film industry and a household name after the success of Anjalika (2005) and Asai Man Piyambanna (2007). She then on went to appear in several blockbusters in Sinhalese cinema and rose to high popularity. Her big budget film Kusa Pabha released in early 2012 and became the highest grosser ever in the history of Sri Lankan film industry. Critics praised Pooja for her role of Pabawathi.
Pooja has been a part of a short film titled Mirage that was shot in September 2011. She says, her good friend Abhishek Venkteswar asked for her participation in this short film. The film was screened in various short film festivals in India and The West Midlands International film festival in UK, fetching accolades for the film and Pooja's performance. When she was shooting for Mirage, she also starred in Smoking kills a short film made by University students as a student welfare initiative.
|Sinhala||Nominated – Sarasaviya Best Actress Award|
Nominated – Sarasaviya Most Popular Actress Award
|2007||Asai Man Piyabanna||Ranmalee / Maleesha||Sinhala||Nominated – Sarasaviya Best Actress Award|
Nominated – Sarasaviya Most Popular Actress Award
|2009||Naan Kadavul||Hamshavalli||Tamil||Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil|
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Character Artiste
Vijay Award for Best Actress
|2009||TN-07 AL 4777||Tamil||Guest appearance|
|2010||Suwanda Denuna Jeewithe||Rashmi||Sinhala|
|2011||Smoking Kills||Pooja||English||Short film|
|2012||Kusa Pabha||Pabawathi||Sinhala||Derana Film Award For Most Popular Actress|
Nominated – Derana Film Award For Best Actress
Nominated – Hiru Golden Film Award For Most Popular Actress
|2012||Mirage||Priya||English||Short film |
Filmfare Award for Best Actress-Short Film
Nominated– SIIMA Film Award For Best Actress in Short Films
|2013||Vidiyum Munn||Rekha||Tamil||Won – Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards for Best Actress|
Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil
Nominated – Vijay Award for Best Actress
|2015||Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi||Tamil||Guest appearance|
|2016||Sarigama||Mariya||Sinhala||Derana Film Award For Most Popular Actress |
Cargils Sarasaviya Best Actress Award 2018
|2013||Daskon||Princess Pramila||Sinhala||The drama won 46 awards in many ceremonies|
Also in Tv series, Still Game, season 5 episode called, Hard Nuts. Awards
1.Amurtha Surabi Best Newcomer Award For Jay Jay 2003
2.All India Radio Awards Most Popular Newcomer Award For Attagasam 2004
3. Filmfare Award Best Actress Award For Naan Kadavul 2009
4. Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Best Actress For Naan Kadavul 2009
5. Vijay Awards Best Actress Award For Naan Kadavul 2009
6.World Malayalee Council Awards Best Actress For Naan Kadavul 2009
7.Special Honour From Rajinikanth 2009
8. Norway Tamil Film Festival Best Actress For Vidiyum Mun 2013
9.Vikatan Awards Best Actress For Vidiyum Mun 2013
10.Behindwood Gold Medals Best Actress For Vidiyum Mun 2013
In Sri Lanka
1.Derana Film Awards Most Popular Actress For Kusa Paba 2012
2.Slim Nealson People's Awards Most Popular Actress Award 2016
3.Derana Film Awards Most Popular Actress Award For Paththini 2016
4.Social Media Awards Most Popular Social Media Icon Of the Year 2016
5.Signees Salutation Merit Award For Paththini And Sarigama 2016
6. Janabhimani Honour From Sri Lanka Government
7. Sarasaviya Awards Best Actress Award For Sarigama 2018
8. Hiru Golden Film Awards Most Popular Actress 2018 For Paththini
9. Slim nielsen people's awards 2019 Youth Choice Actress Of the year
- "Pooja Umashanker: About Me". Pooja Umashankar. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "I am enjoying every moment of acting". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 May 2007.
- Pooja Umashankar Wedding day on Photo Gallery. Gossip.hirufm.lk. Retrieved on 22 August 2018.
- "Screen presence". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 27 April 2007.
- "Oram Po… here she comes". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 30 November 2007.
- "Jay Jay – Tamil Movie Review". thiraipadam.com
- "J ! J ! (Jay Jay) Review – Tamil Movie Review". Nowrunning.com. 12 November 2003. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Ajith tastes success!". Ia.rediff.com. 23 November 2004. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Attahasam Review – Tamil Movie Review". Nowrunning.com. 9 September 2004. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Movie Review:Attakasam". Sify.com. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "`Ullam Ketkume` – A sleeper hit!". Sify.com. 7 June 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2012.