I want to be a massy actor, like Akshay Kumar, who gets so much love: Bhumi Pednekar
Fresh off two back-to-back hits, Bhumi Pednekar says she is “very critical” of her work and why she loves Hollywood star, Ryan Gosling.bollywood Updated: Sep 17, 2017 18:26 IST
By playing an unconventional part of an overweight girl in her debut film, she made people sit up and take notice of her talent in Dum Laga Ke Haisha (DLKH; 2015). Ever since, Bhumi Pednekar has starred in only two films – Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (TEPK) and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (SMS) but has maintained her spotless track record with two back-to-back successes. “I am celebrating both the films but I am already thinking about what’s next. Both the films released very close to each other, so, I am very happy [with the results],” says Bhumi, as she talks about life, career and more.
What’s your state of mind right now?
I am extremely happy and overwhelmed. It feels good to know that your instincts have worked. Be it TEPK or SMS, I purely followed my gut while choosing those films. When TEPK and SMS came my way, I didn’t know which actors are going to be a part of them. For an actor like me, I don’t have any way to measure the film except the script and the vibe that I get from the director and the writer. I come from a non-filmy family, so I don’t have any formulas about what is right and what’s wrong. Be it as a casting assistant or an actor, I’ve only trusted my sensibilities.
By now, do you feel at home, or are still finding your feet in the industry?
Since I’ve always worked with Yash Raj Films, I already felt very secure and at home. Now, the dynamics are different but I was very lucky to be associated with so many good people (at the production house) at a very young age of 17-18 (as the casting assistant). I don’t know a lot of people within the fraternity but with time, I am sure I will. Everything is a process. Even the kind of offers that I’ve got has made me very secure. In the beginning of your career, you don’t have a choice but god has been kind that I’ve got such great offers because of that one film (DLKH). I know I had earned credibility as an actor due to that. With the kind of changes happening in the industry, I feel it is a very good time for an actor like me.
You have three back-to-back hits that also got you critical praise. Does that give you lots of confidence?
I think I am a little weird. Even after DLKH, I felt what if this is a fluke and what if I can’t do it again because my performance was appreciated so much. Acting is my calling, but I don’t feel I will ever be happy with my work. I get really nervous about whether I am doing the right thing or not and so, I also get very critical of my work. Then, people have to literally console me. But now, I feel I have confidence as I feel that there is a secure place for me in the industry.
Many feel that you are a ‘massy’ heroine. Do you love that tag?
I would love that. I represent 70% of Indian people and that is a responsibility. People ask me, ‘do you want to do a commercial film?’ What’s a commercial film? A film, which earns money, right? All my three films have earned money. The concept of commercial films has changed, people love films with content and those films are earning money. I would love to be a masses heroine as these are the people watch your films again and again. I want to be a massy actor, like Akshay Kumar, who gets so much love. A lot of people feel that if you speak good Hindi then you are a massy actor. We have to break that. There is a stereotype that if you wear Indian attire then you must be regressive and not cool, that is wrong. My dress does not decide the kind of person I am.
As mentioned in an interview, are you really obsessed with Ryan Gosling?
He is such a beautiful man (smiles). When I watched The Notebook, I was a teenager, so I immediately fell head over heels for Don. That film took the level of romance so high in my life that I wanted that similar drama should happen in my life too. I love Crazy, Stupid, Love. I think my crush is Ryan Gosling. I think har aurat ka crush is Ryan Gosling (laughs). He is a beautiful man. God has really spent time making everything on him (laughs).
You’ve played small town girls in all your three films, and there’s a tendency in the industry to typecast actors. Do you fear that?
Honestly, the only time I feared being typecast was right after DLKH. I was scared as I thought all the roles featuring overweight girls will come to me. But surprisingly, they didn’t. As long as I am able to differentiate between my characters, I don’t think I can be typecast. I am representing 70% of Indians, so I have 70% of their stories to tell. But yes, as an actor you should keep reinventing yourself. Also, the security of not getting typecast comes from the fact that in my real life, I am an extremely urban girl. So, playing a village girl is challenging because I don’t have a small town connect. I have to put on efforts to play that character in comparison to a city girl. That gives me thrill and excitement.
At the same time, do you feel typecasting is dying a slow death?
I also think that the concept of typecasting is slowly coming to an end. Actors like Alia (Bhatt) or Deepika (Padukone) have started switching. They are looking towards stories which have content. If that kind of thinking is slowly penetrating our industry, the typecasting concept will vanish. But yes, if I feel my performances are becoming repetitive then I will take a break and disconnect form the girl-next-door image, and maybe do something else.
Even after three hits, do you ever have those nervous pangs?
I am not insecure about my place. I was always very scared that one day, I will look at myself and say, ‘’you have done a very mediocre job.’ Maybe, I am being too tough on myself, but how else do I keep myself going, and motivate myself to do better. Now, with the kind of reviews I have got, I feel I have maintained my benchmark of DLKH. I don’t know whether I have surpassed it or not. So what scares me is that one day, I will wake up and tell myself, ‘you have not done enough hard work.’ That’s why I don’t want that feeling of achievement. I feel happy that people will remember the film for our performances, but believe me; I am already onto my next project, and will always be like, ‘it’s good, but now you will have to better yourself.’
But of late, female actors are getting to do some amazing work.
I feel being comfortable in this industry is the scariest thing. I want to work even after I am forty. Films such as Mom or a Lipstick Under My Burkha makes me very happy. Now, female characters are being written for every age group. When I look at Shabana Azmi ma’am, who is still a working actor, I feel great as that is the kind of place I want to be in.
Like many others, do you want to play ultra-glam roles?
I grew up listening to ‘Tip tip barsa paani’ (from Mohra) and I used to dance to it every time it played (laughs). I want to do those kinds of films too. But I strongly feel that the audience has become smart – and thank god for that – because only then will we be able to make good cinema. So, I want to do glamorous but sensible films, which are being made. I am very glamorous in real life, but glamour does not mean skin show. Would I do it? Well, it depends on whether there is a reason for me to do it or not.
As you find a definite space for yourself in the industry, do you ever worry about competition?
From the start, I have always lived in my own world, and a major reason for that is that I didn’t know many people in the industry. And whoever I knew such as Sharat Katariya and others at Yash Raj Films had similar sensibilities. Also, I have been born and brought up in Mumbai, so I have my friends and family here. So, I get very disconnected and that’s great because I get to meet people.
Do you look at other people’s work or what are they up to?
As an actor, you cannot isolate yourself. So, I get really happy seeing other actors’ work. For instance, I really like Alia as she is doing great work. I also feel that there’s work for everyone in such a big industry. So, I believe in healthy competition. Also, I don’t keep a tab on others because I don’t read papers or gossip columns. I am happy in my own life – with my family and friends. So, life’s quite packed.
Do you have any dream role on mind?
If I get a film like Pakeezah, that would be fantastic as I want to do a film that has a soul and thehraav, the way yesteryear actresses would have. I think those actresses were very womanly. Pure kapde dhake huye but itni sexuality hoti thi unme ki aankhon se hi maar deti thi. There is nothing more beautiful than talent. Also, a role like Mother India would be fabulous. I really want to play a freedom fighter in a film, which I feel is very important to be made as an entire generation is unaware [of it].
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