Bhumi Pednekar talks about the lockdown period
Honestly, I have my days, there are some days that are really really good, there are some days that I just wanna like get out of my house.
You know I had these great summer plans but then I think about it I’m like “Bhumi your problems are so first world, get a grip of your life and just be thankful that you are in this safe space with your family. They are safe and you know as actors, we are one of the few people that still have their shop rolling, you know, let’s be real.
And that’s very rare and we are very blessed. So honestly, what’s really kept me sane is all the work that I do apart from my film and digital work. I work a lot, for planet conservation; I work with this Aashram in Chambal. So that has really kept me grounded, the kind of work that I’ve done over the last 2 months, where both these institutions of mine are concerned, has been tremendous and ya it’s really given me a new purpose.
Bhumi shares about completing 1 year working towards planet conservation
We officially started Climate Warrior a year ago but my team and I, we’ve been actually working towards it for a very long time. It’s something that I’m extremely passionate about and it’s not this new born urge to, you know, save the planet. I think my parents really thought of something and named me Bhumi because it goes beyond me.
I’m like what are the chances because I feel very passionately about it and I really feel like this could be the largest threat that humanity could ever face. And I know these sentences and these statements sound very bhari bharkham but it’s a fact. And I don’t come from a place of just hearsay, I’ve studied a lot, I have really researched. Obviously, I don’t have a qualification to kind of prove my statements but I mean the world is speaking about it. So I’m just trying to be another voice. Ya, that’s how climate warrior started.
I honestly don’t have a plan of action. It’s each day as it comes. I’ve been soon fortunate to have met such fantastic brains and minds. You’ll be surprised, you have 5 year old children to 80 year old individuals that are working passionately towards it, irrespective of their social background, their education, how rich or how poor they are, they are working towards this one cause and I draw such inspiration from them.
So I don’t really know where this is gonna go. I have no plan, I’m just speaking about it. I’m just making a lot of noise, I’m creating a lot of awareness because that’s the only way we can actually bring about a change. And the idea of Climate Warrior is to bring about an individualistic change. This is more about changing your lifestyle, changing your environment, your ecosystem because that’s so important right.
Bhumi says she’s enjoying her time off, especially in the mad house she lives in!
In some ways. I miss shooting. But generally, I’ll tell you what, I’m really enjoying this time off. I have not been home since 2016. I have been shooting back to back, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ released, I took about 6 months off and then I started shooting. And this is literally, the legit the first break that I have. It’s a mad house ok, my house is a mad house because we are literally like including my help, Nimisha, my sister, my mum, we are like 6 women in our house.
We all get our period together, so the hormones are bloody raging like it’s mad. And we have like this one sweet boy called Ram Bhaiya, he toh loses it. He is like where am I stuck. So we’ve literally like marked the date, I tell them, “Ok, guys you are losing your shit. What date is it? Mark it!” And I’m like, if I’m allowed to go crazy so are they right. Everyone’s allowed to like have their space. You know like, let it flow.
Bhumi speaks about the toll hectic roles and stress takes in her life
‘Bala’ was a very very very difficult experience. I think it’s probably been the toughest even though my role was, in duration, shorter than all the other work that I have done because it was me, Ayushmann, Yami, it was this ensemble cast but it was very difficult. We were shooting in Lucknow, it was about 49 degrees, Ayushmann had like his bald patch on, I had this intense makeup. It would take us 2 hours in the morning, so I would wake up at 3am every day. I would quickly get a 20 minute run like there’s a lot of work that goes behind looking a certain way. I have to work out atleast for 20 minutes.
If I get more than that I’m very lucky. I go and workout then I reach set at about 4:30 am. 4:30 to 6:30-7:00am I would be in makeup because it took a lot of time, just getting that color on, it was layers and layers of building and at times it would crack because your skin is different everyday. Your skin reacts to makeup differently everyday. The temperature, so the moment I would step out, they had to kind of match it right, so I would have my Director and my DOP come in, check the color, at times it didn’t work so I had to go back into makeup, it was very difficult and the color was so toxic, I felt sick.
I felt sick shooting ‘Bala’ because I think I was under extreme stress. Extreme, extreme stress. I think everybody was very stressed because 49 degrees is not the best weather to shoot in especially when your doing a film that’s so sensitive to a look. And it was just very difficult because every 2 hours, every 3 hours we had to touch it up which means it’s a 40 minute process of removing it and then it screws your skin. And just before ‘Bala’ I had finished ‘Saand Ki Aankh’, so I literally had like 10 days between both the films. And ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ had prosthetic, makeup, so I had actually burnt my skin. I mean this is sounding a little scary but I had like superficial burns when I was shooting for ‘Saand Ki Aankh’. So I think it was just the culmination of what the year was because I was shooting back to back. No, so Sonchiriya was earlier, so I think it was just like filming back to back I barely had like 4 days between each film. I think my body just gave up, so it literally reached a point where my arm started swelling up, it was very very scary.
This was on ‘Bala’. Ya ya it was very tough but my producers were obviously kind enough when they kind of gave me a couple of days off. I took proper consultation and we just kind of zeroed down to the fact that, it’s not an injury, they still don’t know what happened but I think it is stress related. And that’s when realized that I can’t be this person, I have to value my health above anything else because that’s the only way I’ll last. And that’s why I really value this break. A lot of people don’t really understand what stress can do to your body, so please don’t stress, like meditate, do yoga, workout, love your body, eat right.
Bhumi says there’s no space for error where her work is concerned
Absolutely, but the thing is that I got very lucky because I was just looking for that one opportunity. My struggle was different, I was casting for YRF and it was years of Adisa and Shanoo just listening to me. Queue people, conduct auditions, do a bit of acting, direct people that they realized that ok, maybe she has something and I would have done anything for that first opportunity. And I really had to prove my mettle because this was my golden chance.
And I literally treat every film like that, I feel there’s no space for error where my work is concerned, not human error like where my work is concerned, I feel like I have to work so hard because I have to survive this. I’m living my dream and I’m not gonna like let anybody take it away from me.
Her audition for Dum Laga Ke Haisha
I always wanted to be an actor but you know when your suddenly in your teens, your like “Ok, maybe I can do this”, because by the end of it, I wanna be in the films, maybe I can try being an AD or do something because there was no way out. I was just looking for different kind of jobs just to be in the system. I read ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ and since that day.
I was praying everyday but it was tough, they didn’t give me the film after that one audition. Then Sharad came in, he auditioned me for 2 and a half months. He grilled me and he was very tough with me because he didn’t want to give it to me easy and rightly so. I’m glad I earned it. So he would me for 2 hours, he would audition some more girls that were like contenders with me and I was auditioning new girls as well. So, we tested about 250-300 girls and then finally like, thank god. It was actually a very tough time.
Bhumi talks about her unique acting school for ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’
For this one, Seema Pahwa, who is such a brilliant actor, she played my mother in the film and we worked a lot together. So, it’s like the holy trinity – Ayushmann, me and her. Whenever we get together, mostly our films work, the luck has been very good so far. She was training me and the first day I met her she’s like “Kal Salwar kameez pehenke mere ghar aa jana”.
I reached her house and voh mujhse zhadu karwa rahi he, chai banwa rahi he. For a month, I have cleaned her house. For a month! I kind of realized ok this is what real life is, until now I was living in a bubble, I need to kind of get out of my shield and experience life. And she gave me that opportunity.
Bhumi’s advice for all aspiring film students out there
I was thrown out, I did not drop out. They asked me to leave. Because imagine your thrown out of film school, I was like that’s the worst. Because my attendance was so low, I didn’t attend. It was horrible. But, I do recommend if anybody truly wants to go study film, there’s a certain age for it. Don’t do it when you’re 16-17, because you’re not going to take it seriously.
Preparing for Sonchiraiya
Firstly, I love preparing for my characters. Especially for ‘Sonchiriya’, I didn’t take a film for 8 months. I was like this film requires something extra. ‘Sonchiriya’ and ‘Saandh Ki Aankh’ were the two films I really prepared for. I was like, this film requires something extra and for 8 months I did not, forget threading, I was walking Aram Nagar mein, my god it would be so embarrassing, because I had to pick this child and run in the movie so, I was physically training myself very hard because I was like I have to be strong enough to run in the ravines. So, that’s the kind of training I went through for Sonchiriya and Chaubey, he is such a wonderful director. So Chaubey had turned his office into a school. So, he had literally made like this village set-up.
So, it was like intense and then we would work on our dialect because Sonchirya was very heavy on the language. And we started off with, I was like, how are we going to do this, right? But then you see everybody around you so motivated. So literally, we reached a point where we were speaking to each other in Bundelkhandi, it just became like our second language. And the terrain was so difficult, we didn’t really have any luxury. We didn’t have internet, we didn’t have any basic necessities. We were living a very basic life, it was like you are in boot camp and it was three months of that
When Bhumi auditioned Ranveer Singh
I’m actually in the audition, it’s on YouTube and I remember the first to me I met him and I was like this guy…and it’s on YouTube because I had one of Fan clubs kind of tag me on it and I was like.. How they find this! And it was great fun yaar, his energy was just amazing, I was blown away. I was so intimidated by him because I was like, my god what a fantastic actor and what energy. From whatever I’ve heard from Shanoo he is as authentic as it gets. You know, he is this person
Bizarre audition tales
We didn’t have anything bizarre ya, I feel the entire audition process is very bizarre, because you expect way too much out of people but some of them are so funny. I remember this guy, I could not understand his accent and I would just crack up, I couldn’t control myself because he was also a rather horrible actor but a very sweet man, I could just not understand, I was like I can’t take it so I literally had to kind of hand it over to my assistant and I was like listen “it’s really rude”. I always had this conscience that Bhumi, someday this is going to happen to you, so you better clean your act. But no, nothing very strange.
What happens on a girl’s trip, stays on a girls trip, Says Bhumi
Listen, I can’t get into the details of it but I would say that if you ever want do a girl’s trip then Spain is the place, you know. Actually, with you girlfriends you can go anywhere and you’re gonna have a blast! And I really miss doing that this year. I couldn’t do one last year either. But yeah, we have a great time. I think, having a good bunch of girlfriends is the best thing that could happen to you because there’s no filter, at all! You have the most amount of fun with also, what happens on that girl’s trip, stays on that girl’s trip.
Bhumi on dating in times of a pandemic
No, I don’t think it’s really tough to date, it’s honestly the same. It’s just that I don’t talk about anything.
Bhumi speaks about the world being intimidated by ambitious women
I did when I was younger, for sure. I really admire her ya. I think not just her, there are a whole bunch of women that I admire and she’s definitely in the top few. I have met a couple of times, she has so much love to give but I have a crush on every woman who has really made her space, I’m being very honest with you. I draw a lot of inspiration from them and I’m very lucky to be surrounded by such great examples. I have six of them in my house, oh my god.
There’s Priyanka, I think DP (Deepika Padukone), you know all of them yaar, even if I speak of a Mitali Raaj or I speak of even what my contemporaries are doing, what people have done in the past, see, we have to understand that it’s a constant battle right, it is. Even though I’m privileged, I come from a very liberal family but it is not the same, there is like a gender gap, I don’t want to get very serious about this conversation but there is a gender gap and I feel generally the society is very scared of ambitious women. You know, they just don’t understand it.
I feel men get intimidated, I see that changing but they do get intimidated. That’s why I feel very motivated when I look at these women and they are out there achieve something. They are doing it on their own terms, it’s their rules. That’s exactly what I want to do, I have never ever followed a certain idea or somebody’s path, I’m trying to make a space for myself and I’m very clear about it that I have to be so good at what I do that I’m indispensable.
Qualities from celebs to make the ideal guy for Bhumi
The wit of – Shah Rukh Khan
The looks of – Ryan Gosling
The discipline of – Aamir sir
The stamina of – Ranveer Singh
The money of – Akshay Kumar
The talent of – Vicky Kaushal
The humour of – Kartik Aryan
And the heart that – Ayushmaan has
According to Bhumi, who would be good at these particular professions
Cricket commentator – Ayushmann
Stand-up comedian – Arjun Kapoor
Sex upchaar doctor – I think, Ranveer. I think he will have some great hacks
Stylist – I think, Hrithik Roshan. I think he is very very slick
VO Artist – Vicky Kaushal, I think he has a very nice voice. Listen, of course Raju, it has to be Raju. It has to be Rajkumar because he is so good with accents
Politician – Akshay sir
Gym instructor – Siddharth Malhotra
Therapist or agony aunt/ uncle – Kartik Aryan, he is full of fundas, I love him
If Bhumi had to recast these actors in films
Casino Royale – Danial Craig’s part
La La Land – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Ranbir and Alia
Joker – Joaquin Phoenix
I can only see Ranveer do it
Marriage story – Scarlette Johansson and Adam
Vicky, only because of the height and the talent, because the performances are fantastic and for her, PC (Priyanka Chopra)
Charlies Angels –
Katrina for sure, Shraddha and me. Kat or DP
Dil Chahta Hai
I would do Dil Chahta Hai with Ayushmaan, Kartik and me, listen it’ll be a great film
Has to be Ranveer and Arjun, hands down I have seen them dance to Ram Lakhan and they are obsessed, I mean I have seen it back in the days, I have seen them go at it at YRF and that’s it, I really see them do Ram Lakhan.