Bhumi Pednekar Interview: A film like ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’ really needs an actor like Akshay Kumar to reach out to as many people as possible!
In an exclusive interview with BollywoodMDB, actress Bhumi Pednekar talks about her upcoming film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, co-star Akshay Kumar and much more.
She won millions of hearts with her convincing debut act in the 2015 film, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, where she played an oversized, small-town girl married to an athletic school dropout. After the overwhelming response her debut movie generated at the box office, Bhumi Pednekar stayed away from the arc-light for more than a year and when she reappeared, everyone was stunned to see her unimaginable transformation. Once oversized, Pednekar had now shed all her extra pounds and was hailed as the new diva in tinsel-town. She is now ready for the release of her second film, Toilet: EK Prem Katha, opposite none other than Akshay Kumar. In a fun filled conversation with BollywoodMDB Reporter, Mohnish Singh, Bhumi talks about her new film, her experience while working with superstar Akshay Kumar and why she considers Toilet Ek Prem Katha to be her re-launch in filmdom. Excerpts…
How was it to work with superstar Akshay Kumar? He is known to be an early morning person. How was your experience shooting early in the morning and all?
Awesome! I am a morning person, too. I myself wake up early in the morning. So, for me it worked really well. I was thanking my stars saying ‘Thank God, Akshay Sir is also an early morning person.
Bhumi, you are a part of the film which has got the entire national talking, including our Prime Minister. So, how are you feeling?
See, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, for me, is a very, very special film. It’s my second film. It’s my re-launch, because this is how people are going to see me now. But apart from that, it’s a great love story. I feel very lucky and humbled to be working with Akshay Kumar, Neeraj Pandey, my director and my entire team. Everything is great! Besides, I feel this is a very important film for our country. This is a very socially relevant film. I think this is one of those rare chances in your career where you get a mix of both. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it.
What do you call it a re-launch?
Because the character which I played in Dum Laga Ke Haisha to what I am today is very different. I need to know whether people are going to accept me or not. I haven’t gone through that test yet. I really hope that they do accept me, because I am the same person, I am the same performer.
Working with Akshay Kumar in your second film is kind of an achievement. What was your first reaction when you got to know that you are being paired opposite him?
When I got the narration I had no idea that Akshay Sir is going to be there in the film. I was fascinated by its story. It was a sensible film. After few days, when everything was finalized, I was told that Akshay Sir is in the film. I was shocked. I didn’t imagine it. I couldn’t even think that something like this would ever happen.
I think a film like this really needs Akshay. It is a film which needs to reach out to as many people of our country as possible. It needs to reach mass people. It needs to reach grass root level in B and C centres and towns, because that’s where they are suffering the most. And I don’t think there could have been a better actor and star than Akshay Kumar for this film.
Do you think that films have that power to change the way society thinks?
100%. I feel in India, especially the youth, has found a voice and an opinion for the first time, after the 70s. Whenever something wrong happens in our country, you know that there is something which you can do, either through social media or sit-ins at Jantar Mantar or India Gate. You know our country is going to come together and do something about it. I feel very lucky to be a part of this generation. Since a film is the largest visual impact that people can have, it does influence society. And it’s high time that people start using it to bring about a change in the society, because we can’t have that ostrich mentality that I will put my head into the sand and behave like the world could be crumbling around me, but for me everything is okay. It can’t work like this today. We are global citizens. What happens in any part of the world has direct effect on us whether you know it or don’t know it. We all need to own up our responsibility and filmmakers today our doing exactly that by making films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and contributing to the society. Films do have a big impact on our society.
We see a lot of trolling happening around celebrities. How do you react to that because celebs are more susceptible to trolling?
Absolutely! Up till now I have been well protected by a film like Dum Laga Ke Haisha because that film spoke more about my mettle as an actor than other aspects of me being an actor. I was always very sheltered, so I haven’t personally gone through any sort of trolling yet. But I am prepared that will happen. If that does, I will literally take all the good things because on the internet I only read articles or what media has to say. I don’t read what random people have to say about one extra hair of mine that is picking out on my head and they want to troll me on that, or if I had a little slip and they want to troll a certain body part of mine, I don’t want to waste my energy on that. Dude, I am a human. Actors are not robots. They are not computers so they need to be perfect. Yes, they need to make sure their imperfections have a good impact on people because they are really worshiped and idolized.
Were you an Akshay Kumar fan when he was an action star back in 90s? What are your memories of him?
His songs ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast-Mast’ and ‘Tip Tip Barsa Pani’ are iconic songs. I actually remember seeing him shoot in a building which was opposite my building and I was really young. It was an under construction building and I remember him doing some action scene in a banyan, running up and down the stairs and doing some crazy stuff. I saw it all from my window. It was one of the luckiest days of my life. What a great entertainer he is! I never thought one day I would be doing a film with him.
Your film Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is trying to bring in a change in the society. Suppose you are in a position where you can bring in a positive change in the society, what would be that?
There are a lot of causes which I very strongly believe in. Most of them are to do with women. There are various atrocities that we as human beings deal with. I also feel very strongly about the environment. You see wars, you see people fighting over oils. The main question is what will you do when the Mother Earth gives upon you? All this is happening. In Antarctica, the biggest iceberg melted. Nobody seems to care.
It is so difficult to be happy and celebrate your success as an individual in a time when you open the newspaper and see that somebody is being mobbed, somebody is being lynched, somebody is being raped and somebody is being stoned. It’s so sad. There are many causes but the ones I want to fight for are water and climate.
As an actor what do you look for while signing a film, the script or the director?
Both. There has to be a mix of both. See, I have worked with a lot of first time directors, so I don’t know how it works for them. But for me primarily it is the script and what my character is doing. I have grown up watching certain kind of films. I have a certain kind of taste in cinema. So before signing a film the biggest question for me is whether I’ll be able to watch this film. Other parameters come into the picture later.