What did a typical, average Bollywood heroine look like? She was someone who was dressed in traditional clothes and was submissive and obedient towards her husband and elders. She did not drink, smoke, or wear any western outfits. She was not allowed to have a career or say in any family matters. She only had three roles- to be a good daughter-in-law, good wife, and good mother. But times have changed for good and we are glad to have progressed from the traditional, one-dimensional women characters to dynamic, complex women characters like Piku, Vidya Bagchi in Kahaani, Veronica in Cocktail. The new women are bold, fierce, independent, and ambitious and are not shy from expressing their emotions and opinions. Even though we still have a long way to go, it is happy to see strong and resilient women taking up the majority of screen space usually dominated by men. They have not only been unapologetic on-screen but have been opinionated off-screen as well. In this list of the rising, strong, powerful women, Bhumi Pednekar has successfully carved out a niche for herself.
Bhumi Pednekar was first seen in the film Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Playing the role of an overweight, a chubby woman has never been easy given Bollywood’s fixation towards thinness in women’s bodies, yet this shortcoming has not deterred Bhumi from delivering an outstanding and memorable performance. In the movie, we see her playing the role of a school teacher who is deprived of love and affection from her husband owing to her weight. But unlike other films that sell the ridiculous idea of women changing themselves to please their ungrateful husbands, Bhumi puts her foot down and is very unapologetic about herself. She does not settle for less and rightfully demands respect and equality in their relationship. A refreshing change from the stereotypical women characters, Bhumi has changed the definition of a Bollywood heroine and set the standard of the ambitious, no-nonsense, independent, and a modern Indian woman.
From acting in films like Shubh Mangal Savdhan, Soncharya or the recent one Dolly Kitty aur voh chamakte sitare, Bhumi is not afraid to choose and act in unconventional films that touch upon the social issues and complex realities of modern Indian society. Her philosophy is very simple: to be a performer that can entertain and at the same time bring a positive change to society. She is happy to be associated with projects that highlight issues like sexism, inclusivity and acceptance. According to her, in today’s time, a star is someone who people can relate and connect to very well. She is excited about her new movie Durgamati which will be released on Amazon Prime on 11th December. A remake of the Tamil movie Bhaagmaithee, she plays the role of an IAS officer. She is very excited and apprehensive of her role as this is her first time experimenting with the horror genre. In many interviews, she has been vocal about the double standards that exist for both men and women actors and emphasized the need for a change in perception and gender bias in the industry.
Being a regular and ambitious Juhu girl, Bhumi belongs to a family with important and influential political connections. Just like any typical parents who wanted her to focus on becoming an IFS officer, Bhoomi decided to follow her love for acting and films. It is safe to say that she has cemented a position for herself in an industry riddled with issues of nepotism, family dynasty and gate-keeping. But her success has also met with severe criticisms mostly directed towards her appearance and weight. In one of the interviews, Bhumi unflinchingly admitted to engaging in weight loss and dieting programs. Upon further inquiring, Bhumi shed light on body positivity. Her journey towards weight loss is not motivated by any pressure but is an act of exercising her own choice and right over her body. She loves her body and wants to look good for herself. She advises people to celebrate their bodies first and accept the way they look before inflicting any change on their bodies. Bhumi keeps her style very simple and casual. She is fond of mixing and matching clothes.
Apart from her incredible acting ability, Bhumi has recently admitted to harbouring special and impressive poker skills. When she has nothing to do or has managed to take out time for herself, she invites her friends over to her place and indulges in a game of teen patti and poker. She is obsessed with card games but usually reserves it for her own recreational and entertainment purposes. She sees playing cards as a stress-buster. Bhumi has a strong Instagram game with a following of 6 million people. Even though her Instagram is filled with her donning stylish outfits, she has been very active about climate change and its effect on the environment. With the recent catastrophic Australian Bushfire disaster, she penned down her opinions about the need for an active commitment and humanitarian efforts into protecting the environment and the planet earth for a better future.
Bhumi is a breath of fresh air in Bollywood. It is finally good to see someone taking down on patriarchy, gender roles and stereotypes and unapologetically reclaiming a space of herself in an otherwise male-dominated industry without the need to fit into the conventional and typical standards of the society.