Pooja Hegde is an Indian model and actress who appears in Telugu films and Hindi Films. A former beauty pageant contestant, she was crowned as the second runner-up at the Miss Universe India 2010 competition, before going on to make her acting debut in Mysskin's Tamil superhero film Mugamoodi (2012). She then featured in the Telugu films Oka Laila Kosam and Mukunda (2014), while signing on to feature as the lead actress in Ashutosh Gowariker's Mohenjo Daro (2016).
She competed in the Miss India 2009 competition, but was eliminated in an early round despite winning the Miss India Talented 2009 honour. She re-applied the following year and was the second runner-up in the Miss Universe India 2010 competition, while also being crowned Miss India South Glamorous Hair 2010 in the subsidiary competition.
She made her acting debut in Mysskin's Tamil superhero film Mugamoodi (2012) opposite Jiiva, portraying the female lead character of Shakthi, a fun-loving girl who inspires the male lead to change his outlook on society. Her second film release, the Telugu film Oka Laila Kosam (2014), featured her opposite Naga Chaitanya. She was praised for her performance in the movie. Around the same time, she bagged the nomination for Best Actress at the 62nd Filmfare Awards (South).
In July 2014, Hegde agreed terms to make her Bollywood debut opposite Hrithik Roshan in Ashutosh Gowariker's forthcoming period film Mohenjo Daro, set against the backdrop of the Indus Valley civilisation. She was selected after Gowariker's wife had spotted her in an advertisement and called her to audition, which she successfully completed. As a result of her commitment to the film, she revealed that she would take a break from appearing in regional Indian movies until her Hindi film's release and rejected an opportunity to work in a film directed by Mani Ratnam.