Bhumi Pednekar comes across as one lucky girl. She has had it all — a debut film that went on to become a sleeper hit, the backing of one of the biggest production houses in the country and, on the whole, a launch pad any newcomer would give an arm for. But, she has experienced her share of struggles.
“Everyone’s struggles are different,” says the actor, who gained 23kg for her first film, Dum Laga Ke Haisha (DLKH; 2015), and then lost 33kg to get back in shape. Now, Bhumi is set to begin work on her next. Here, she talks about her journey, how her equations in the industry haven’t changed, and more.
You’ve said that your first film was a risk that paid off. Do you say that because you quit your job to do it?
Not really. Yes, I did quit my job after I got the film. But I took it up because, ever since I was young, all I have ever wanted to do was act. I was 12 when I decided that I wanted to see myself on the big screen. I started working really early. I just love films, and I didn’t realise that with each passing year I was wasting my time. But I guess God had a plan. The first time I read the script of DLKH, I was blown away. It was a genuine script; you don’t really get scripts like these today. When it came to the weight gaining part, I didn’t really think about it because I just wanted to be part of a film, especially this one.
In a recent interview you said that Parineeti Chopra has been an inspiration for you…
I don’t know how that came up. I’m so new to these interactions. I was at an awards show, when they asked me if I was the reason she lost weight. So, I said that’s such a ridiculous question to ask. My reaction was that I don’t know if I was her inspiration, which I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. But the way she’s looking now has definitely inspired me to look fitter. I genuinely think she looks amazingly fit and nice. This was my answer, and it got blown out of proportion. But yeah, why not? She’s beautiful and is looking amazing, so if people want to put it that way, it’s okay.
Does your background, as a casting assistant, give you an edge over others?
It does, 110%. Working, in general, gives you a lot of life experiences. I think an actor without life experiences is empty. I have had a very comfortable and beautiful life. I became independent at a young age, and understood the craft… I have not just worked in casting, I have covered every aspect of film-making, from being a junior creative head to working on costumes and assisting directors. I don’t know if that gives me an edge, but it definitely gives me the power to think differently. I believe my stint in casting was my acting workshop; we literally rehearsed with the actors for long periods of time. I’ve also worked with directors who have different visions. So, that has also given me perspective. I’ve been here for six years, and I have done the oddest jobs.
You started off as a casting assistant, and now you’re an actor. How has your equation changed with your contemporaries?
We have always been friends. Since I have only worked with Aditya Chopra’s production house, my equation with all the actors and the vibe I get from them remains unchanged. I feel the newer lot of actors are a lot more chilled out. We are grounded, and we respect each other. We value each other for what we are. I feel lucky to have joined Bollywood at this time.
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Your first film was a hit. Do you feel any pressure for your second Bollywood outing?
I’m a pressure junkie and I’m used to working like this. I know the expectations of me are really high, and that’s why I have waited for long before deciding on my second film. I have not been impatient. I have taken my time, and have read a lot of scripts. And I feel it (her second project) is a very good decision. It’s a good script and is very relatable. And more than anything else, the director I am working with is great. I loved Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012; directed by Sameer Sharma). I think Sam is very good. For any film, what matters the most is the director, followed by the script and the actors. Actors don’t make a project; a project makes the actors. So, if I have a good script and a brilliant director, half of my worries are sorted. Then it’s my job as an actor to give the film my heart and soul.
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