I am a better performer now, says 'Sonchiriya' star Bhumi Pednekar

Deccan Chronicle.  | Mayur Sanap

Entertainment, Bollywood

In Abhishek Chaubey's Sonchiriya, Bhumi plays a tormented woman who runs away from her house in order to protect a girl child.

Bhumi Pednekar plays the character named Indumati Tomar in Abhishek Chaubey's Sonchiriya. (Photo by Viral Bhayani for Deccan Chronicle)

Post the success of Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, actress Bhumi Pednekar has cemented her position as talented star in the industry. The gorgeous actress in not only known for her sublime acting performances, but also her smart choice in choosing films.

In Abhishek Chaubey's Sonchiriya, Bhumi plays a tormented woman, Indumati Tomar, from Chambal, who runs away from her house in order to protect a girl child. In the exclusive chat with Deccan Chronicle, the talented actress talked about her character, shooting experience in Chambal, her image as an actor and Sonchiriya's commercial value.

Excerpts from an interview:

Your director Abhishek Chaubey had said that Sonchiriya is his most 'male' film. What got you interested in your character?

It was definitely a male dominated film but that is because the story is such. The terrain and the era that we are showing is such where the male supremacy was at its peak. There were literally 200 men on sets including the entire cast and crew and just handful of women among them. But for me as a performer all that did not matter. My character ‘Indumati’ comes from a very suppressed society and that aspect really attracted me. Also, I really wanted to be a part of Abhishek Chaubey's film. He is one of the finest filmmakers that we have in our country. When I first heard the story I just wanted to grab the opportunity. What also got me interested is that even though the film is set in 1970 during the era of Emergency, the film is still very relevant in today's time. Even though we gave modernised and progressed as society, I believe our mindset and mentality has not much changed. The issues that we are speaking in the film are still the same be it caste-divide or atrocities that women go through. And this very fact stayed with me.

The film was shot on the real locations in Chambal valley. That must have been very difficult?

The shooing conditions were very difficult because we were battling extreme weathers. Chambal is a very harsh terrain which is really like a maze without any vegetation. We were constantly surrounded by sand and dust. When we would go back and have bath, so much of dust would come off from our bodies. We prepared ourselves strong enough, both emotionally and physically, to withstand the terrain. There was lot of walking and hiking involved to reach the location. The sun was so harsh sometimes that we would fight for a little shade. Eventually we got immune to all the harsh difficulties because these things don’t matter when you are working together for a film like Sonchiriya. In fact, all these difficulties added a lot to our characters.

Your character speaks Bundeli language in the film. Was it fun learning it?

It was tough at the begging manly because it is very different from Hindi. But after two months of training we all were literally conversing on set in the same language. This was really a different experience for me because I have done different dialects but not a different language. The Budelkehndi has a lot of quirk to it because the local people have a lot of pride and self-assurance which this language puts forward. Our director was very particular about every detail and hence we decided to learn the local language to effectively portray our characters.

You are a go-to actress for a certain type of roles. Are you afraid of getting typecast?

I am not afraid of that at all. None of my characters are similar actually. Sure these characters belong to, say, more rural part of the country but their circumstances are totally different from each other. I don’t think glamour is the only thigh that could make your character look different. All my characters have been well synced with the stories. If I don’t stay true to my character, I would fail as an actor.

Sonchiriya has a wonderful star-ensemble. How was your experience of working such amazing actors?

It was a delightful experience. The film has made me a better person. Abhishek Chaubey has improved my craft as I learnt so much on set. As you said, I was surrounded by such stellar performers be it Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Ashutosh Rana and Sushant. They all have such unique method of acting - it was honestly like a school for me. I walked out as a better performer after being part of Sonchiriya.

Sonchiriya does not look like an easy entertainment. How it is going to play with the audience, you think?  

I disagree on this statement. I think this film (Sonchiriya) has a lot of commercial value. If you see, in the recent times, the very definition of commercial film has changed. Commercial film is a film that makes a lot of money and I have very high hopes from Sonchiriya. Also, it is not just about the monetary aspect of it as it is also about the kind of impact it is going to have on the people and the society. We are successful, even if it changes few mindsets.

Sure, there are no songs in this film but with the new-age filmmakers like Abhishek (Chaubey), Shoojit Sircar and others, the structure of a typical commercial film has changed. These days you don’t need a song, or glamour to make your film work. It is all about a good story.

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