‘The idea is to celebrate your imperfections because God has made us all the same, right?’
Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhumi Pednekar/Instagram
Bhumi Pednekar is on a roll.
She has three movie releases in quick succession, and she’s totally different in all of them.
Saandh Ki Aankh, which sees her go through life from a youngster to an old woman, gave her a lot of love.
In Bala, she plays a dark-skinned lawyer opposite a balding Ayushmann Khurrana.
In Pati Patni Aur Woh, she plays a sex-loving wife to Kartik Aaryan.
And then there’s Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, which is making waves on the film festival circuit.
“I am trying to break stereotypes through my work,” she tells Patcy N/KhabriBaba.com.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhumi Pednekar/Instagram
What attracted you to Bala?
When I read the script, I resonated with the character of Latika because she is this complete girl.
She’s beautiful, she’s strong, she’s independent, she’s intelligent, she’s sensitive, she’s emotional, she’s a great daughter, she’s a lawyer, she has educated herself, she’s career-oriented…
She’s complete, but society feels she isn’t because of her colour.
So through the film, she is trying to break this mould that has been created by people.
It’s their standard of beauty and she’s trying to break that.
I am trying to do something similar with my work, so that really resonated with me.
I am trying to break stereotypes through my work and this was another chance to do that.
Apart from that, it was obviously because Amar Kaushik was directing it.
He’s a fantastic director; I have watched Stree. I loved it.
Also, I had a chance to collaborate with Ayushmann; it’s our third film together.
Ayushmann and I usually do rom-coms.
This time, it was different and that’s what we were both looking for because even if we can do another love story where there’s a problem, it has to be something else.
Here, we play childhood friends.
We have a Tom and Jerry relationship.
We love each other. We hate each other.
This is the first time I have collaborated with Maddock Films (production house). They have done some fantastic films like Hindi Medium, Badlapur…
I realised that our sensibilities match.
This film will really entertain you.
There are moments where you laugh, smile, tear up…
It’s not a story about a bald guy. It’s a story about anybody who has any kind of complex.
You are told you’re fat, thin, tall, short, too hairy, no hair, fair, dark… you are never perfect.
The idea is to celebrate your imperfections because God has made us all the same, right?
I have two eyes, two legs; I’m made up of the same cells as anybody else. So why this discrimination?
When we are born, there’s no discrimination.
Discrimination is made by society and that is what we are trying to bring out through this film.
IMAGE: Bhumi in Bala.
When your poster revealing your dark skin in the film came out, you got trolled.
I have been trolled through the year. This entire year people are only trolling me.
I have realised where there is appreciation, there will be criticism.
Social media is a platform where you can put your opinions.
I respect a lot of them and take them into consideration.
A lot of them get me thinking.
But a lot of it is crap.
So I flush out unwanted opinions down the toilet.
Be it ageism or the colour aspect, I am an actor. It is my job to be able to do different kinds of parts.
With this logic, I should not have done Dum Laga Ke Haisha because I gained 30 kilos for the film.
I have always said, watch the film.
If you have a problem with it, please comment on my work. But don’t comment on my choices because I will continue doing these kinds of films.
Why a film-maker has taken me in a film is his choice.
I am sure he’s taking me because I add some value to the film.
I am a half decent actor.
I do bring in a lot to a movie and that’s why he’s taking me.
It’s not just a person’s physical appearance because of which they are taken in a film; there’s a lot more than that.
We need to look at the whole creative process, as opposed to only a fat girl can play a fat girl’s role or only a thin girl can play a thin girl’s role.
IMAGE: Alankrita Shrivastava, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ekta Kapoor and Bhumi take Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare to Busan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ekta Kapoor/Instagram
Is this a good time for female actors?
If I see my career graph in the last one year — I started shooting Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare last September. It’s gotten so much international appreciation.
It will be out in India next year.
I play a 20 year old over there, as compared to the 70-year-old woman in Saand Ki Aankh!
I have done six strong characters and that says a lot about how times are changing.
My colleagues like Alia (Bhatt) and Taapsee (Pannu) are doing films that are really empowering my gender.
We are doing things film where women are celebrated.
Right from the start of my career, I have been a part of movies where the girl has a lot to do.
IMAGE: Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi in Saandh Ki Aankh.
Some trade analysts feel that if Saand Ki Aankh got another solo weekend at the box office, it would have done better.
I am not a trade analyst or a producer.
I don’t have an opinion on this because I don’t understand it.
Mere liye bahut badi baat hai ki Saand Ki Aankh is getting so much love.
I think the film has become an example of what the two Dadis stand for in real life.
It had a very rocky start, but slowly and steadily, it is getting better every day.
It’s very encouraging and motivating for me.
I can’t explain the kind of love I’ve gotten for Saand Ki Aankh.
I have done some good films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, and it’s never happened before.
Every movie teaches you something. What is your learning from Bala?
The idea of self-acceptance.
Respect everybody because everybody is unique.
Koi perfect nahi hai.
With every film experience, I become humble and nicer.
I come from a very sheltered family.
I have never had any struggles per se,
I have worked my entire life since 17, but still, I had certain comforts.
I have done eight films so far and every character has left so much behind.
IMAGE: Ananya Panday, Kartik Aaryan and Bhumi in Pati Patni Aur Woh.
How do you reinvent yourself with each character?
I am the queen of the heartland of India.
I love it.
I own it.
I am a desi girl and I will celebrate it because in my real life, I am not that person.
I am a Mumbai-born and bred girl.
Playing these characters is very difficult for me.
There’s no mehnat in playing a Bombay girl because that’s who I am.
I am very proud that I can transform myself into these people.
I don’t think any of my characters are similar.
All of them belong to a certain socioeconomic background, but none of them are similar.
I have played a 70-year-old woman in a village, a 20-year-old girl in Dolly Kitty…, a 28-year-old woman with a child in Sonchiriya…
In Pati Patni Aur Woh, I play a wife who is breaking the stereotype of how a typical patni is shown on screen.
I hope my audience doesn’t feel that same toh kar rahi hai.
The day that happens, I have to re-think.