Mumbai: From a 100-something kilos to going graciously thin, Bhumi Pednekar has shown us how to prepare for a film’s character with utmost dedication. Even after a year long hiatus, the actress in her is as excited and passionate about the art of cinema as she was before her big Bollywood break ‘Dum Laga Ke haisha’.
Despite Bhumi’s busy schedule, which primarily involves juggling between promotional events for two of her upcoming films—Toilet Ek Prem Katha with Akshay Kumar and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan with Ayushmann Khurrana—we managed to sit her down for an elaborate interview, where she spoke at length about what made her say ‘yes’ to two exceptionally off-beat scripts like SMS and TEPK, life after gaining & losing weight and the kind of movies she plans on doing from here on.
What kind of difficulties you faced while putting on weight for ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and post its release?
While I was gaining weight for the film, I was eating everything which one shouldn’t eat generally. This was the only way for putting on weight else it wasn’t happening only. I didn’t have any health issues but when I was at my biggest, I had body ache, I started losing hair, and my skin went really bad so those were the drawbacks of gaining weight in an unhealthy manner. I gained around 27 kilos for the film but I had a blast. The energy and zeal to do the film at that point of time was unbelievable.
You believe that things wouldn’t have been the same for you had YRF not backed you in your debut film?
I think YRF opened doors for me after I did ‘Dum Laga Ke…’ I am so lucky that I got a film like this as my first movie. I have read some great material after my debut. I have a constant efflux of the offers. I agree that things wouldn’t have happened if Dum… not happened. I am happy that this film has already established me as an actor which is difficult for a lot of them to do now a days. I just got lucky. Gaining weight for a film taught me so much about the craft as an actor. It helped me a lot as a human being.
Why such a long gap between ‘Dum…’ and ‘Toliet Ek Prem Katha’?
Firstly, I took a year off because I had to come back to my normal body. I didn’t want to do it unnaturally. It is my body and I respect it. ‘Toilet’ is among first few films I had signed after ‘Dum…’ and it honestly had to start in December since it had a bigger star cast attached to it and timeline isn’t in my hands. ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ had to happen always after that. My life went off track for merely six months but has been very much on track in totality. The only project which didn’t work out for me and then we shot another film in the same set up.
How do you compare the two AK’s Ayushmann Khurrana and Akshay Kumar?
I don’t think I can even compare the two, I rather not compare them (laughs) They both are great people. I got along with Akshay sir really well. He is so humble. He made me so comfortable on the sets despite being a newcomer. He is punctual and dedicated. He treats everyone the same, be it me or a spot boy. For a newcomer like me to see him doing this was so inspiring. Ayushmann is passionate about his craft. He is multi-talented and god gifted. I have learned so many things from both of them.
Did fitness icon Akshay give you any tips on fitness?
I think Akshay sir very passionately speaks about fitness anyway. He asked me that why I gained the weight? What I was thinking? He also gave me some suggestions. I constantly asked him questions on fitness. In fact, I am extremely morning person so I had a great timing with sir. My entire staff had a tough time with me.
How important do you think are script choices for you?
They are extremely important. When I sign a film, I look at it as an audience. There are certain kinds of films that I want to do as an actor. Your choices make or break your career. I don’t believe in quantity rather in quality. I feel cinema has also changed a lot now. For an actor, it is important to be creatively satisfied with the process.
But surprisingly, you are the only YRF talent who has signed films outside the camp…
It just happened organically because after ‘Dum Laga Ke…’ there was a phase in YRF when they were doing their previous franchises. Right after ‘Dum…’ I signed ‘Manmarziyan’, then ‘Toilet…’ and then ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan’. The thing is I didn’t expect it to be like this though I hoped for it, a lot of gratitude for this. People asked me what if I become a stereotype after ‘Dum…’ I was like that would be fine but luckily industry and audiences accepted me.
How did ‘Toilet…’ happen to you?
When I heard the title of the film, I felt really weird which itself caught up my attention. I was in Amritsar for some work and fortunately I met the writers for the narration at the same hotel. After hearing it, I was blown away. The film is not inspired by Swach Bharat Abhiyaan but it is a contribution to PM’s efforts. Initially, for me the film was about sanitation and I thought lets give it a year but later I realised how big this issue in our country is so I took it up. Primarily it is a love story where Toilet plays a villain. Honestly, I didn’t care about the issue until I did this film since I never had to face it being a woman. As an actor, I strongly believe in doing my homework before doing any film.