MUMBAI — Four years down after her debut, Bhumi Pednekar is now beginning to be considered a weighty performer, which of course has nothing to do with her obese avatar in her first film (and hit), “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” (2015). It took a while for her to slim down (after the weight she had put on) for that film, and so her second release was her first 100-crore film, “Toilet—Ek Prem Katha” in 2017.
After that, Bhumi has surely and not too slowly made her mark, showing her proclivity to substance-oriented roles in “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan,” “Sonchiriya,” the web film “Lust Stories,” “Saand Ki Aankh” and “Bala,” her second film in the 100-crore club. She is now set to release “Pati Patni Aur Woh,” has just signed Akshay Kumar presentation “Durgavati,” which has been called a “Scary thriller” and has also got in her hands the ensemble Karan Johar historical “Takht” and the quirky comedy “Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare,” which recently premiered at the Busan International Film Festival.
We met the feisty lady at the J.W. Marriott, and reaffirm that the girl has weight only in her roles.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: None of your films and roles have been the classic heroine kind.
A: Yes, the audience is now open to every kind of story. We have spent decades loving fantasies and now they want to see their stories, in which they can well be the hero or heroine shown. They can now celebrate supposed flaws like premature baldness, obesity or erectile dysfunction!
It’s nice to see that our cinema has been evolving in the last five years and that my movies and I are a part of that progression. It’s gratifying that most directors on my wish-list have either worked with me or have reached out to me, and filmmakers have put money on me.
Q: What about doing a typical naach-gana (song and dance) role? Would you be open to it?
A: Of course! I have grown up on the songs and movies of Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra! I love brainless comedy as well, and while it’s very easy to make the viewer cry, it’s tough to make him laugh as an actor. But I will not do a stereotypical role in even such films. In “Pati Patni Aur Woho,” we have broken stereotypes. I am not the sobbing housewife, nor is Ananya Pandey playing a scheming other woman. That’s what I liked best about Mudassar Aziz’s script.
Q: Have you watched the original?
A: No, I did not. But we all know it is a classic.
Q: So how is your character in this film?
A: She is a very confident and ambitious woman, who just wants a better life and encourages her husband to do better so that they can live a better life. She is a teacher in the film, and she has the kind of adaa (charisma) that if she stood in the centre of a traffic signal in Lucknow, she will cause a traffic jam! And she’s also well-aware of her effect on the opposite sex.
Q: While this film is a remake, would you like to do a sequel to this film?
A: I would love to! I would like to be the one that goes astray here, with Ayushmann Khurrana, my first as well as “Bala” co-star, as my ‘woh!’ Why not, yaar? Why should always the man be shown straying?
Q: This has been your busiest year.
A: Yes, and by now I have played everything from a sister to a mother and grandmother too. Once again, I thank my audience for it, and obviously my filmmakers. I have played women from 20 to 70 this year!
Q: Your films have had controversies. You too were trolled.
A: Yes, two of my films, “Saand Ki Aankh” and now “Pati Patni…,” faced some controversies in the early stages of promotions, but I would like the detractors to watch a film and then judge rather than pass their verdicts from the trailer, which is just 0.5 percent of a film. With “Pati…,” it was just a line that caused a furor, and we realized it could cause problems out of context. The filmmakers have wisely removed it. But on a personal level, I really mind my own business and do not respond to trolling.
Q: How was the Busan experience?
A: Amazing! I even got an award there, and everyone was flocking around my co-star Konkona Sen Sharma and I. Now I want to go to festivals all the time! We get to see the best from world cinema and I had a fangirl moment with the actress who had starred in one of my favorite films, “Parasite.”