Meet Bhumi Pednekar, a compelling combination of talent, hard work, perseverance and charm. Her unconventional rise to stardom is the kind of stuff movie plots are made of
Bhumi Pednekar has risen through the ranks of Bollywood before our very eyes. Among other things, her meteoric success can be attributed to her on-screen portrayals of strong Indian women who are true to themselves and confidently take on societal stereotypes—characteristics that make her relatable to the young Indian girl. She reflects, “I take pride in the fact that my on-screen characters are so strong and diverse—from Sandhya in Dum Laga Ke Haisha(2015), who harboured no reservations even though society tried to body shame her, to Jaya in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha(2017), who was a rural girl with a spirit of activism. Even if you run through my upcoming projects, there’s Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare—a true chick flick, where I play a girl who is dealing with problems every 20-something can relate to or Bala, where I portray a lawyer who is made to feel insignificant because of the colour of her skin! Then there’s Saand Ki Aankh, where I’ll be seen as a fierce 70-year-old and Pati, Patni Aur Woh, where I’m a millennial with ambition, sass and sensuality; it’s a glamorous role and a departure from what I’ve done so far. All of these characters are relevant because they’re girls who can be found among our friends. Moreover, all of them exude confidence and self-love—to me, that is a huge positive.”
Mathapatti, Haathphool (Left Hand), Earrings: Sunita Shekhawat Jaipur, Ring, Multicoloured Navratna Bangle (Right Hand; Second From Top): Raniwala 1881, Gold Bangle (Right Hand; Top), Bangle (Right Hand; Third From Top), Bangle (Left Hand): Jaipur Jewels, Bangles (Right Hand; Bottom Two): Shri Ram Hari Ram Jewellers, Dariba Kalan
For Bhumi, a good story is central to her craft. While on her quest to find stimulating roles backed by substantial scripts, she shares, “I am fortunate to have been a part of films that had something more to convey. These films were funny and hard-hitting with an interesting mix of commerce and good content. I love the fact that my films have challenged beauty stereotypes created by society—while still being entertaining for the audience. Now, I want to continue essaying characters that challenge me as an actor; I’m looking to push boundaries because that is something I’ve consistently done from the beginning of my career.” In an industry that’s beginning to embrace unconventional screenplays, Bhumi’s arrival is serendipitous. “Times are changing and I’m fortunate to be an actor in a generation that supports well-developed storylines and strong female leads; it’s gratifying and encouraging to be a part of such projects.”
Haathphool (left hand), rings (right hand): Shri Ram Hari Ram Jewellers, Dariba Kalan, Earrings: Raniwala 1881, Bangle (right hand): Jaipur Jewels, Shoes: Bhumi’s own
With her name attached to some upcoming big releases— Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare; Saand Ki Aankh; Bhoot – Part One: The Haunted Ship; Bala; Pati, Patni Aur Who and Takht, Bhumi shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m always pushing myself to work harder and do more. I feel passionate about my job; it isn’t about the fame. Every role helps me tap into facets of myself that I didn’t know existed; it helps me get over so many of my own hang-ups. I’ve lived every part that I’ve played and invariably, my life has changed and I love the metamorphosis I go through every few months for my job. It’s truly a great educational experience.”
Necklace, bangle (right hand): Jaipur Jewels, Bangle (left hand), rings, maangtika: Shri Ram Hari Ram Jewellers, Dariba Kalan
This experience includes an impressive lineup of co-stars. “I’ve collaborated with the likes of Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal and now Kartik Aaryan—all of whom exhibit ambition, dedication and a passion for films and this is what makes the energy on set so suited for quality work. They are the kind of actors who respect content and the director’s vision a lot more than their own relevance in the project and that is the only way art can flourish! In my second film with Akshay (Kumar), I learnt that professionalism and discipline go a long way. I’ve understood that talent alone is not enough; if you have a poor work ethic, your reputation will always precede you,” she believes.
Bhumi understands that one’s image as a public figure is not limited to their characters on screen. She acknowledges, “The distance between the audience and their favourite celebrity has diminished thanks to social media and the constant glare on day-to-day movements. Today, the image that you form is not just a product of the films you do; it’s a combination of that and your image across social media platforms and paparazzi sightings. Showbiz is a tricky business, so it’s important to have a good head on your shoulders, work with humility and not put on a façade.”
On the verge of a hectic year, Bhumi is raring to go, working her way further into our hearts. It is this passion for her job flanked by her fearlessness as an artist, incredible talent and sense of empowerment—just like her on-screen characters— that have put her on the fast track to success.
Photographs: Taras Taraporvala, Hair & Make-Up: Elton J Fernandez assisted by Amrita Bokey, Outfits: Ri Ritu Kumar, Styling: Lynn Lobo, Creative/Art Direction: Gopalika Virmani, Location: The Great Eastern Home