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Indian star Pooja Hegde makes her Cannes debut

Indian actress Pooja Hegde admitted to falling victim to last-minute nerves as she made her Cannes Film Festival debut on Wednesday (May 18).

Hegde joined stars including Tom Cruise, Viola Davis, Elle Fanning and Eva Longoria on the Cannes red carpet ahead of the premiere of “Top Gun: Maverick” on Wednesday evening.

“It was like a live performance to be on that red carpet. I was so nervous getting on it. I was a bit like ‘oh my God, what’s going to happen?’,” Hegde told Reuters in an interview at a Cannes beachfront lounge on Thursday morning (May 19).

The 31-year-old donned a voluminous, pale pink feathered dress for the outing and said she was particularly concerned about climbing up the stairs leading to the Lumiere Theatre for the premiere screening.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen ‘Kung Fu Panda’, but I’m Po from ‘Kung Fu Panda’. I hate stairs as much as he does, and I had to do it in this gown. But it all went so beautifully and it was such an experience,” she said.

India is being celebrated as the country of honour at this year’s Cannes film market and Hegde said she hoped the festival would bring awareness to the country’s diverse cinema landscape.

“I genuinely think that we have a lot to say as a country, and to be honoured this year, the country of honour at Cannes is such a huge deal,” she said.

Hegde has starred in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films and is known for her roles in movies including “Beast”, “Most Eligible Bachelor” and “Housefull 4”.

Her upcoming titles include “Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali”, starring Salman Khan, and Rohit Shetty’s comedy film “Cirkus” with Ranveer Singh and Shah Rukh Khan.

“I work in three languages there… So I feel so proud that India is really stepping up and making noise. That’s something that’s really, really unique and I’m so happy that I’m here representing all these different languages,” Hegde added.

After her brief Cannes visit, which she described as “insane” and “a whirlwind experience”, Hegde was heading home to be back on a film set on Thursday. She said a tight work-out regime also awaited her on her return.

“I have prep for another film, which I haven’t as yet announced, so I’m waiting for my studio to do that, but it’s an action film, so I have to get into training because I mean, I don’t want to say too much, but I have a lot of action in that film, so I have to go straight to my action training.”

(Production: Fedja Grulovic, Christian Levaux, Hanna Rantala)

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