COVER STORY: Bhumi Pednekar On Her Career And Dynamic Fashion Choices

Bhumi Pednekar is celebrated for her dynamic and unconventional choices. Starting her career as a casting assistant, she made a striking debut with Dum Laga Ke Haisha, a role that demanded significant physical transformation. Known for her commitment to diverse and challenging roles, Bhumi’s journey reflects her relentless pursuit of quality over commercial success. Her roles span across genres, from the heartland stories of India to complex contemporary characters. Bhumi’s approach to acting is deeply rooted in personal growth and the joy of impactful performance, consistently pushing boundaries and refusing to be typecast. Off-screen, she is a vocal advocate for body positivity and fashion, balancing her public persona with an authentic representation of self-love and empowerment. With a decade in the industry, Bhumi continues to leave an indelible mark, driven by passion, hard work, and a fearless spirit. During our chat, she came across as affable, brimming over with sunshine and good cheer, and seemed genuinely interested in having an interaction rather than a conventional interview. She didn’t shy away from hard queries and batted away everything with aplomb, sure of hitting a homerun every time. She loves introspection, joking that interviews give her a chance to sort herself out. And one thing she was most vocal about was feeling grateful to the universe for her bounty. Excerpts from an engaging interview with the witty and talented actor.

Bhumi Pednekar

Many actors say that it’s difficult to make brave choices and far easier to go with the flow and say yes to commercially lucrative projects. Have you ever been at such crossroads, or have you always had that clarity of vision?It’s been a journey. I have done parts I wasn’t convinced about and did them competently, but I didn’t have a chance to shine in those parts. With every experience, especially success and failure, you learn. In my gut, if I felt something was not right, it usually didn’t work out. It’s been a learning curve. Whenever I’ve said yes to a script for reasons other than the script itself, it hasn’t worked out for me. So, it’s about personal growth and finding pleasure in the work you do. That feeling of having done great work at the end of the day is something I’m constantly chasing.When you’re chasing quality, do you have to say ‘no’ to film offers more often than you say ‘yes’?Yes, absolutely. Saying no is very tough because there are so many factors that tempt you. But now, especially after completing so many years in the industry, I’m clear that I want to be working for multiple decades. To do that, I want to create my own space, and that space is being a great performer. Everything else is secondary. Longevity – that’s my funda of life. It might not be the same for someone else, but I want to be known as a good actor, and I’ve received that love till date. I want to continue stepping out of my comfort zone.So, there’s no way people can typecast Bhumi Pednekar?I hope not. When I started, I only had heartland India stories, which I love and miss doing. But as time has passed, I’ve done very diverse roles. I hope I don’t give people an opportunity to think I can’t do something. I want to do every genre, every type of scene. I want to be an antagonist too. I’m not scared of how many scenes I have in a film. I just want it to be impactful. Like when Govinda Naam Mera released, I got so much love for playing a brash, out-there Marathi woman in a comedy. It was nerve-wracking, but it was rewarding. Unconventional choices give you the courage to keep exploring.

Bhumi Pednekar


Speaking of unconventional, you’ve done open schooling, started as a casting assistant, and even put on weight for your big screen debut. Where does this streak for the unconventional come from?
I’ve always been a seeker. Most of it comes from knowing that I’d have to create opportunities for myself because I don’t come from a background where opportunities in this field are handed out. Growing up, I wasn’t conventionally pretty by the norms then, so I created a space for myself where I felt attractive. When it came to getting into films, coming from a family like mine, it wasn’t acceptable. So, I took decisions that brought me closer to my dreams, whether it was going to open university or becoming a casting director. I’m a hustler. I had one goal, and I took any opportunity that would bring me closer to it. Destiny also played a part, but I kept at it because I had the confidence to keep going despite the norms and standards.You’ve had releases like Bhakshak, Thank You For Coming, Afwaah, Bheed — each one more complex than the last. Does that complexity fuel your creative spark? Is that what you’re looking for?Yes. I’ve been very clear about my choices. I wouldn’t say I had clarity when I got my first film, because honestly, with a first film, you just get lucky. My first film was Dum Laga Ke Haisha, and I had the opportunity to let people know that I’m here to perform. But after that, I was very clear that I want to constantly do characters that make me uncomfortable, that make me question my existence, or that make me question the basic thread of who I am or the world I live in. That excites me a lot. I’ve always wanted to leave behind a legacy of work that can be watched through generations. I want my cinema to be timeless.

Bhumi Pednekar


You’re shooting for Daldal, right? What’s the most exciting thing about your character

in your web series debut?It’s definitely a first for me. I’m playing a police officer. She’s the youngest in our story—a young DCP. What I loved about Daldal is that this isn’t like any other cop show people have seen. This character is complex and complicated. She has her own history, her own past that she’s dealing with, which makes her very unique. For me, that was the most exciting part because, in the past, I’ve had opportunities to play someone in the police force, but I found most of those stories to be the same. Daldal has a lot of psychological drama and thrills. The way this girl is written—she’s so layered and nuanced and internal—that it honestly is a challenge. I haven’t done something like this yet.Is it the challenge of portraying a complex character or being part of an off-beat film that excites you the most?Just the experience of working in the longer format—that experience is very different from film. You literally shoot five hours’ worth of content that eventually goes up. As an actor, you get to explore the character a lot because you have that much time. I’m constantly looking for challenges and opportunities where I can break any notion I had around what’s next. I feel very fortunate as I’ll complete 10 years next year. I feel like all the roles I’ve gotten, and all the filmmakers who have shown such confidence in me, have been incredible because I’ve not done regular, linear films. Most of my films are a little complex, and that gives me a lot of confidence. Filmmakers know that I will deliver, and I want to keep delivering.When you’re reading a script, what triggers within you?There’s an instinct that triggers within me. Some films might not work at the moment, but I know in longevity, they will be watched. Some films are given so much love even now. For example, Sonchiriya didn’t do well initially, but it’s still one of the films people talk about. After Dum Laga Ke Haisha, it’s the film that I get a lot of love for, specifically for my performance. It feels good because I want to be known as an artist, as an actor. I think I’ve created that space for myself.

Bhumi Pednekar


Are you ever hard on 
yourself? Do you expect too much from yourself?Yeah, I do. I’m learning not to. I think where I am today as a human being is that when I’m hard on myself, I recognize that. And I kind of change the tone with which I’m dealing with myself. It’s very difficult. It comes with a lot of training and self-love. But I kind of keep reminding myself, ‘See where you are’. I come from a humble family. Nobody really in my family was really in the world. My mom had done some kind of… like she indulged with a little cinema when she was young, but there wasn’t a major influence of cinema while I was growing up. I keep reminding myself, ‘You are that girl for whom a monthly salary of 7000 rupees was a lot’. And you know, when I got into acting the first time, I was like, ‘Oh my God! Look where I have reached’. There’s a reason why we all are on our chosen path. If you get to do what you love every day, you should be full of gratitude. And I have to keep reminding myself that.A majority of people don’t end up with careers where they get to do stuff that they love. So for the people like you, who are in their dream profession, is gratitude an important aspect of everyday life?Absolutely. I think success and failure teaches you a lot. Failure more than success, of course. We all are going to have times when things work out and when things don’t. And I feel the way I dealt with my failures when I understood the person that I am. Because professionally, for I would say 80 percent of my time as an actor, I’ve not really seen myself not work. You know, and when that happened is when I was like, okay, I’m a way stronger person than I imagined myself to be. And I’m really proud of the way I dealt with it. You know, because you just pick up your pieces and you keep moving. Because hope is such a beautiful thing. Hope and just confidence that I am here because I love what I do. And it’s just not love, you know, it is love backed by a lot of hard work. Discipline, honesty. So I would say, we actually keep saying, I said, see where you started, see where you are. This is your path. Just be at it.Which people make up your support system? Who is your bouncing board for ideas? Who are the people who help you sail through life and make the right decision?It starts with my family. We’re a very close unit. My sister Samiksha is part of every decision that I make except the scripts that I consider. Samiksha doesn’t get involved in my film choices but she gives me her perspective on everything else. My mom reads the scripts that I consider. My mother accompanies me for most of my readings and narrations as well. That’s part of my process. I’ve made sure I have never alienated my mom. And the stray times that I did, and it only happened because there’s so much that I’m doing and I got distracted. But every time I haven’t consulted my mom on my movies, it has not worked out for me. My mother and my sister are my biggest support system.

Bhumi Pednekar


Are you ever hard on 
yourself? Do you expect too much from yourself?Yeah, I do. I’m learning not to. I think where I am today as a human being is that when I’m hard on myself, I recognize that. And I kind of change the tone with which I’m dealing with myself. It’s very difficult. It comes with a lot of training and self-love. But I kind of keep reminding myself, ‘See where you are’. I come from a humble family. Nobody really in my family was really in the world. My mom had done some kind of… like she indulged with a little cinema when she was young, but there wasn’t a major influence of cinema while I was growing up. I keep reminding myself, ‘You are that girl for whom a monthly salary of 7000 rupees was a lot’. And you know, when I got into acting the first time, I was like, ‘Oh my God! Look where I have reached’. There’s a reason why we all are on our chosen path. If you get to do what you love every day, you should be full of gratitude. And I have to keep reminding myself that.A majority of people don’t end up with careers where they get to do stuff that they love. So for the people like you, who are in their dream profession, is gratitude an important aspect of everyday life?Absolutely. I think success and failure teaches you a lot. Failure more than success, of course. We all are going to have times when things work out and when things don’t. And I feel the way I dealt with my failures when I understood the person that I am. Because professionally, for I would say 80 percent of my time as an actor, I’ve not really seen myself not work. You know, and when that happened is when I was like, okay, I’m a way stronger person than I imagined myself to be. And I’m really proud of the way I dealt with it. You know, because you just pick up your pieces and you keep moving. Because hope is such a beautiful thing. Hope and just confidence that I am here because I love what I do. And it’s just not love, you know, it is love backed by a lot of hard work. Discipline, honesty. So I would say, we actually keep saying, I said, see where you started, see where you are. This is your path. Just be at it.

Bhumi Pednekar


Which people make up your support system? Who is your bouncing board for ideas? Who are the people who help you sail through life and make the right decision?

It starts with my family. We’re a very close unit. My sister Samiksha is part of every decision that I make except the scripts that I consider. Samiksha doesn’t get involved in my film choices but she gives me her perspective on everything else. My mom reads the scripts that I consider. My mother accompanies me for most of my readings and  narrations as well. That’s part of my process. I’ve made sure I have never alienated my mom. And the stray times that I did, and it only happened because there’s so much that I’m doing and I got distracted. But every time I haven’t consulted my mom on my movies, it has not worked out for me. My mother and my sister are my biggest support system.

Bhumi Pednekar


But once you’re a star, does it become difficult to meet and approach people? Is it easier for an actor to get isolated by virtue of their fame?
In some cases, you get cut off from the outside world. Perhaps one gets that experience if they’re an introvert. To each his own. But for me, there’s a lot that I collect from different people that I meet, from experiences that I have and from stories that I have been told. It’s not a conscious process either. Many times, you don’t even know when you’ve met this person that you are now channelsing in a performance. You don’t pick up any of their character traits or bodily behavioural traits to put them in a character. But you end up doing that later on. If they’ve told you a story that you connect with and you sympathise with that emotion, you end up channelising that memory. These experiences and memories are my treasure. I can never let them go to waste. I sometimes feel that my life has become very dry, ever since I’ve become an actor. One of the most marked changes has been in my ability to move around. When I was growing up, I used to often visit my grandfather’s house. The world there was very different. I used to meet my extended family a lot. We used to travel around India a lot. Life was very different even when I was working behind the camera as a casting assistant. There was a time when I used to worry about money. There used to be an excitement when I would receive a cheque for Rs. 7000 every month as my salary as a casting assistant. Today, I am very aware of the fact that God has been kind to me.Is it very easy to be friends with Bhumi Pednekar?It’s very easy to be friends with me. I generally have a good vibe in life. I’m not a difficult person. I’ve not been told so, yet. But I don’t know what my family thinks of that. (Laughs) I try to create as good a mahaul around me as I can. But then everybody has good days and bad days. But generally, I’m a people’s person.

Bhumi Pednekar


You’ve been vocal about body positivity through your characters as well as your real-life opinions, but what are your views on the body positivity of women in real life and Indian households? Do the common women have the luxury to take body positivity for granted?
While growing up, I was constantly made to feel like I’m not beautiful. And this wasn’t within my family. I’m very lucky that my family actually constantly kept telling my sister and I that we were beautiful, but the moment I stepped out of my house, I was made to feel that I could be better. It was those experiences that I channelized into my films. To be honest, body positivity is a term that people use very loosely. Most people feel like it’s relevant only to a certain body type. That’s definitely not true. The spectrum of body positivity is very, very large. Body positivity is actually loving yourself in its truest way. Now the truest way is the way that gives you happiness. I have friends who say they want to gain weight. This friend confessed to me that she was constantly picked on because she was very skinny. And then there was another girl, who wished she had that problem. So many women and people feel they won’t be good enough in any shape or size.Your efforts with weight loss have always been talked about…Yes. I’m constantly asked about my weight. In the last few months, people have commented about how I have lost a lot of weight. I’ve done that for a project, for what I’m shooting. People have been appreciative of it and I’ve been telling everyone that the shape I am in is good and I’m enjoying it. But, tomorrow, I might not be like this and I would still want the same love. But if they don’t give me the same love, it’s still okay because I anyway love myself enough. I strongly feel that my success, aspirations and work are not dependent on what shape or size I’m in.

Bhumi Pednekar


You’ve been building an image of a fashion icon and your Instagram feed speaks volumes of it. What piqued your interest in fashion, because initially 
that wasn’t associated with your celebrity image?I have always liked fashion. I used to like it as a kid and I still like it a lot. I used to put on fashionable clothes in my own room before, but now I do it in the public eye. I always liked putting on a lot of make-up when I was a kid. I like doing that even more now. I feel these are ways of loving yourself. When I go back and see my childhood photos, I realise there are very few images where I am not dressed up. I used to collect money and buy make-up products. And at that time, make-up products were not easily available. Today, every teenager usually has access to every make-up brand in the world, right? When I was growing up, getting branded make-up products was a very big deal. I remember my friends’ parents used to get upset with me. They used to tell me, ‘This is not your age to be putting make-up on’. They did not want me to be a bad influence on their children. But I didn’t care because my parents were okay with my passion. Once my film journey started and because of the kind of films that I did, people assumed that I was a different person. People developed an image of mine that was nothing like the real me.  Perhaps I serviced that image as well, because I was only shooting back to back. When COVID came, things changed. I was at home and I realised, I’ve not really shown what my likes and dislikes are. That’s when I started putting effort into fashion and style. That’s when I started putting out posts on how much I love fashion. My mom keeps telling me that when I was a kid, I begged her to buy me the same dress that Karishma Kapoor wore in Raja Hindustani. It was that red micro dress that Karishma donned with a hat and it had a criss-cross pattern. For every fancy dress competition, I would be dressed up.

Bhumi Pednekar


Did you look up to the 
actresses of the ’90s?Now in hindsight, I think maybe that passion to dress up came from the fact I would see those wonderful women on screen. I also think I was kind of trying to deal with my complexes as a child. But I obviously didn’t know that back then. When I was little, I would literally sit with everyone at every family function. If someone came for dinner, I would dress up and perform for them. That was my outlet. Once I became successful as an actor, I started making some money and that became an enabler for my passion for fashion, too. But I firmly believe that creativity, fashion and beauty cannot be limited by what funds you have. I had put in more effort into my style when my career had started. I used to plan out what to wear to events and appearances. When I was in school and college, people used to say, ‘This girl, she’s going to put on make-up for two hours’. And I used to love it. I used to do so many new things. I used to heat spoons and curl my hair.

Bhumi Pednekar


Does Bhumi Pednekar hustle to seize opportunities or does she let destiny take its course?
It’s a bit of both. I believe in a higher power and destiny, but I also fight and work hard to create opportunities. I’ll make calls, reach out to directors, and audition for parts. I’m constantly on a learning arc and want to keep growing as a human and a performer. I’m a pressure junkie; I don’t have any chill in life. I get exhausted, but work gives me joy. So, yes, I’m definitely a hustler, not just professionally but in everything I do.

Bhumi Pednekar

So you’ve truly been a hustler all throughout…Yes. My sister and I can hustle through anything. I’m a very hopeful person. Because I just know that I’m meant for better things. Whatever situation I’m in, it’s only going to keep getting better. If somebody pushes you into a corner, you’re always going to fight back. 100 percent. Every time I’m pushed in the corner or pushed behind, I just take longer jumps.

Bhumi Pednekar


When you choose to portray bold characters in films like Thank You For Coming or Badhaai Do, do you ever consider that it can offend the fans or invite divided opinions?

If a thought like this would have crossed my mind, I wouldn’t have done the film. You know, but all the things that I’ve done, I’ve believed in them and I’ve resonated with the subjects and characters. Also, as I said, my mother reads all my scripts and there’s always a sense of surety with projects she approves. I also feel, people end up reacting to moments in the film. Those reactions are not really applicable to the entire film. I have worked in enough movies to realise what is good cinema and what’s not. I know what I want to do and not do on-screen. The reactions are never an issue.

Can there be a sequel to Dum Laga Ke Haisha?

I don’t know. I feel it’s a classic and some stories should be left the way they are. People still love that film and it still amazes me that so many people swear by Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
I just want all that love to be frozen in time.

Next Story

https://www.filmfare.com/interviews/cover-story-bhumi-pednekar-on-her-career-and-dynamic-fashion-choices-67177.html


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