I have been picky, and am not in a rush to keep doing films: Bhumi Pednekar
The Toilet: Ek Prem Katha actor Bhumi Pednekar says she is “overwhelmed” with the way her Bollywood career has shaped up; adds that working with Zoya Akhtar was always on her wish list.bollywood Updated: Jun 12, 2017 15:59 IST
She made her big Bollywood debut with Dum Laga Ke Haisha (DLKH; 2015). Ever since, Bhumi Pednekar has been missing from the big screen, but the actor says “life is pretty much on track” for her. Now, Bhumi — who has films such as Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha alongside Akshay Kumar in her kitty — has shot for a short film that has been helmed by film-maker Zoya Akhtar. HT chats with the actor about her choices of films and working with the top production houses.
How was it like to work with Zoya?
Honestly, even before I became an actor, and when I started dreaming of becoming one, working with Zoya was always on my wish list. Luck By Chance (2009) is one of my favourite films, and I love Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011). Her sensibilities are great, so it was a privilege, and an amazing experience for me to work with her.
What was your first reaction on getting a call from her?
I was so excited when I got a call from her [for the film]. And when I read the script, I was like, ‘oh my God, there’s no way I am not doing this [film].’ She is so evolved as a director, and different from so many other people that I have met. She is very sensitive towards women and characters in her films. Therefore, her approach to certain subjects is also sensitive. It’s amazing how she directs you and handles you on set. It is so different from anything that I have ever seen. I had a blast while working with her.
Watch Toilet: Ek Prem Katha Official trailer
You are working with some of the top film-makers and big production houses. Does it all feel like a dream?
There are days when I wake up and I think, ‘wow all of this happened because of that one film [DLKH].’ Initially, I was very overwhelmed by people’s responses to my first film. It was great to see that there are people in the film fraternity, who have that far-sightedness. Whatever work I have got till date is because of that one film. I am living my dream.
You haven’t had a film release after your debut venture. Does that concern you?
As far as my life is concerned, it’s pretty much on track. Unfortunately, there was a small hiccup in the middle (of my career) when I was doing a project, but it didn’t work out. At that time, I thought, ‘oh, life is so unfair’ but now that I have spent more time with the fraternity, and I have done more films, I realise that it’s a part-and-parcel of one’s career. Toilet: Ek Prem career. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was actually the first film I signed after DLKH and it was always supposed to start at the end of 2016. Then, I signed another film, which I was going to complete before Toilet but that didn’t happen.
Have you learnt the ways of Bollywood by now?
I am still figuring it out (laughs). I don’t know [the exact ways of the industry]. Every day is a new learning and a new experience. I am becoming more confident as an actor as I do more work. And thank God for that. I definitely feel that I have evolved as a performer because the more you do things, the more you realise, ‘oh, I can do this or that as well.’ You realise what your limitations are and what limitations you can cross. So I am learning every day, and I just feel blessed.
Do you ever sit back and think that you could have done a certain number of films since Dum Laga Ke Haisha (DLKH)?
Not really. Maybe my life backtracked a little by three to four months but apart from that, it’s pretty much how it was meant to be, and how I had planned it. Also, I had to take a few months off to sort of come back to being the real Bhumi. I was lucky enough to play a character like Sandhya (in DLKH), which was so impactful. But that took me, as well as people, some time to get out of it (the character). And I was prepared that I will have to be focused for a few months or maybe even a year. I didn’t want to do films looking or feeling a certain way so, I think it’s all good.
After working with Zoya Akhtar, do you see any difference between working with a male and a female director?
I don’t think there is any difference as far as the craft is concerned. More than a male or a female director, every director has their own personal method, the way every actor has their own method, and Zoya’s method is wonderful. It’s a very sensitive film but the way she explained everything to me, it didn’t sound difficult at all (when I was shooting for it).
For you, what made Zoya stand apart from other directors?
It (the film’s script) looked difficult on paper. But when we actually started shooting it, there was an ease with which she took me into the scenes, and the way she visualised everything. Besides her camera work, the palette of the film and every aspect of it, is so international. But it was definitely refreshing to work with a female director. I don’t know how to put it the right way, but we were like friends trying to create something amazing minus any boundaries. You also feel extremely empowered around Zoya.
By the look of things, it appears that you are taking things slowly…
I think I have been lucky enough to get a choice. I don’t know if everybody gets that opportunity but I had a choice to pick films that I want to do wherein I can do different things. I have been picky and I am proud of those choices because I am not in a rush to keep doing films. I want to do films that have an impact but not necessarily changes lives. I don’t mean to become a preacher but I want to do films where my character stands out and I am not just one part of a film.
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