Bhumi Pednekar: on turning climate warrior and disrupting beauty standards

The actor speaks about her upcoming campaign 'Climate Warriors', her next film 'Saand Ki Aankh' and making sense of Bollywood

To say that this has been and will continue to be a busy year for Bhumi Pednekar is an understatement. The actor has five releases — Saand Ki Ankh, Bala, Pati Patni Aur Woh, Bhoot - Part One: The Haunted Ship, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitaare — in the next six months and will start shooting for the Karan Johar opus, Takht, soon. “It has been insane but it is the kind of insanity that I love and keeps me going, because all these roles are so varied. I’ve played a 19-year-old in Dolly Kitty... and a 70-year-old in Saand Ki Aankh.

Passion project

While these films have required Pednekar’s undivided attention, it is her upcoming social media campaign, Climate Warriors, that she is excited about. “I realised that just changing habits within myself and my family is not enough. If I’m in a place of privilege and have the power to influence people to buy the clothes or the make-up I wear, why wouldn’t they listen to me if I talk about small changes they can make to save the planet? The idea being ‘boond boond se sagar banta hain’ (every little bit counts),” says the 30-year-old.

A still from Saand ki Aankh

A still from Saand ki Aankh   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With the campaign, the actor hopes to “start a dialogue and celebrate people who have been climate warriors”. “These are people from varied backgrounds — there are those who earn ₹10-12,000 to billionaires. What’s common is that they have devoted their lives and time to this cause,” says Pednekar adding that the idea is to spark change without ‘being too preachy’.

On the personal front, she has made changes that help her live a more environmentally sustainable life. “The pressure in all the taps at home is at 20% and we recycle everything. I also try and be more responsible towards the kind of clothes that I wear and try to buy from eco-conscious brands. I don’t litter, I haven’t used plastic in a very long time and neither does my staff,” she says.

Bhumi Pednekar: on turning climate warrior and disrupting beauty standards

Body positivity

It is this mindfulness that Pednekar also brings to her on-screen work. When she took on the role of Sandhya Varma, an overweight teacher in Sharat Katariya’s sleeper hit Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015), she knew that the role would question the beauty standards we impose on our leading ladies. This year, in Saand Ki Aankh, she plays a wrinkled, grey-haired sharpshooter, and in her November release, Bala, her character has dark skin. Obviously, vanity is not one of her sins. She laughs when I point this out and corrects me. “I’ve taken it upon myself to break every kind of beauty standard we’ve created in this country. I am comfortable with celebrating flaws in front of the camera but in real life, I believe in the concept of vanity. For me, it means loving myself. I love wearing make-up and wearing beautiful clothes. What I don’t like is when people think you have to look a certain way to look beautiful.”

Coming up
  • Pednekar describes Saand Ki Aankh, her first Diwali release, as an “uplifting film about relatable characters”. It has her teaming up with Taapsee Pannu to bring to the screen the lives of Chandro and Prakashi Tomar, the world’s oldest women sharpshooters. “They’re 87 and they’ve seen so much. The duo wore ghoongats till they were 65, then this event happens and their lives change. The film celebrates their spirit.” In Bala, Pednekar is reunited with her Dum Laga Ke... co-star Ayushmann Khurrana. She’ll end the year with Pati Patni Aur Woh, a remake of the 1978 rom-com. Early 2020 will see Bhoot and Dolly Kitty... hitting theatres, and she’ll start shooting for the historical Takht. “I don’t want to talk too much about Takht, but whatever I’m doing in the film is different. Nobody’s seen me like that; I’m really excited.”

On the run

This is just the actor’s fourth year in the business and while she’s marching to her own beat, she is also trying to make sense of this industry and learning to deal with fame. In 2019, she’s had to tackle a few firsts — director Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya was her first film that didn’t work at the box office; with rumours about her dating Jackie Bhagnani, there’s suddenly a lot of interest in her personal life; and she’s learning the need for longer breaks between films. “One wants to be filming constantly and doing those many films, but it can’t be the way the last two years have been. I had two major health scares this year, and it was because I was under immense pressure. I’ve realised that I don’t pick up regular material — all my films require a lot of work. It drains you emotionally and physically, and I don’t want to burn out.”

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:04:14 AM |

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