Cinema and OTT support each other: Bhumi Pednekar

The ‘Afwaah’ actress turns a year younger today as she celebrates her 34th birthday

Cinema and OTT support each other: Bhumi Pednekar

As Bhumi Pednekar turns 34 today, the ‘Badhaai Do’ star reflects on her journey as an actor and emphasises that her growth as a human being is just as significant. Calling herself the ‘hardest critic’, she said she can never be satisfied with her work.

“I have surely seen a lot of growth and maturity in my performance with every passing film. I feel my method has changed and the pressure that I put on myself has changed because there’s a certain amount of confidence I have gained as an actor with every passing film. I am so fortunate to have played these amazing characters that have only added to the person I am,” said Bhumi, whose last two releases, ‘Afwaah’ and ‘Bheed’, are on OTT.

Bhumi was recently in Kolkata for an ad shoot. On her first trip to the city, she had a long to-do list. However, the tight shooting schedule didn’t give her much time to explore the city. Her family had asked her to get some ‘jhalmuri’, ‘mithai’ and special masala. Nurturing the dream of always visiting Kolkata, she said, “This city has given some of the best artists historically, be it music, art or literature. And the love for cinema and theatre is so immense in this state and city.”

‘Afwaah’ is a very special film for Bhumi. The political drama, directed by Sudhir Mishra, exposes the dangers and far-reaching consequences of the grapevine in the age of social media.

“As a film student, I had watched a lot of Sudhir Mishra’s films and his kind of cinema has had a very huge impact on me, the kind of artiste I am and the kind of films that I wanted to do. So, when an opportunity like ‘Afwaah’ came my way, it was the best thing that could have happened,” she said.

‘Afwaah’ gave her the chance to work with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, whose work she hugely admires. “He is an actor of a different calibre and is such an easy person to work with. Also, Sudhir sir’s production house is like home to me. We have also done ‘Bheed’ together and it was a collaboration of so many amazing minds and special people with great intent for cinema,” she smiled.

Interestingly, ‘Afwaah’ and ‘The Kerala Story’ were released on the same day. However, it was ‘The Kerala Story’ that went on to set the cash registers ringing, while ‘Afwaah’ failed. The same happened in the case of Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Bheed’, which highlights the condition of the migrant workers during the COVID-19 lockdown. Bhumi said it’s the audience’s choice at the end of the day to watch films.

“Producers, who were in the background, put in their entire might to make sure that the film reaches the people. We can’t force the audience to go and watch a film. It is the audience’s choice,” said the ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ star.

Unlike her contemporaries, Bhumi has always chosen the path less travelled. Her choice of doing ‘different kinds of work’ is reflected in her debut film, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, where she played an oversized wife. “My first film kind of set a different path for me. It helped me create a space for myself and gave filmmakers the confidence to know that I’d do different kinds of work. I think that’s why I’m very fortunate that I get scripts that allow me to challenge myself time and again and show a different side of myself,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bhumi feels OTT is one of the best things that have happened in the world of entertainment.

“I feel cinema and OTT are there to support each other and for actors like me, who do experimental work, we are happy there’s another way to reach out to my audience,” said the ‘Lust Stories’ actor.

When asked about pay disparity, she had a ready response: “The pandemic was a very big setback, especially to the conversation of pay parity because I feel it comes down to women’s fees, which anyway are marginally charged, being cut off as opposed to their male counterparts. The situation is improving, but not enough. But the pay disparity based on gender exists not just in films but in every profession.”

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