After losing 30 kg, Bhumi Pednekar is out to surprise and how
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 3, 2017)

She notched up a surprise hit as the grossly overweight Sandhya Verma in her unconventional Bollywood debut, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, which bagged her the Filmfare Best Debut award. But a pretty unrecognizable Bhumi Pednekar admits that it takes longer than being one-filmold to be famous. The actress is now excited that her Independence Day release, Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, will help her claim her place as a “full-fledged“ heroine.

“When I'm club-hopping or enjoying pani puri with a friend, just being the good old Mumbaikar I've always been, there's always a certain person who'll be continuously staring at me, long and hard. After a few minutes they'll walk up to me and mutter 'Kya aap woh...woh...' and I confirm that I am the same actress from Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I know and understand that stare all too well. But Toilet - Ek Prem Katha will change the way people see me. I've worked very hard to disconnect from Sandhya and step into the shoes of Jaya (her character in Toilet),“ says Bhumi.

She points out that even though her upcoming film is set in the same North Indian world as her debut romcom, the films are completely different. Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, directed by Shree Narayan Singh, in sync with PM Narendra Modi's Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, follows Akshay Kumar in his resolve to build a toilet for his new bride. “It's a soulful love story with dance, drama, a toilet as the antagonist and no preaching. Akshay sir is the country's biggest commercial star today and is returning to a full-fledged romance after a long time. Being on set with him was like a daily master class in acting,“ she says, recalling how on the first day he promised her that they were going to have a lot of fun while shooting the project and lived up to it. “He doesn't intimidate his co-stars even if they're just one-film-old.“

The 27-year-old, who has lost 30 kg since she was last seen on screen and has stayed slim for the last two years, says the image of a perfect body is constantly evolving. “Like my career, my body too is a work in progress,“ she laughs, saying she's learnt how to block out negativity and feel confident when she looks into the mirror. “But I won't be a hypocrite and say an actor's look is 'natural'. It's not. Hair and make-up takes hours, I've been doing it since I was 14 and I enjoy it. I endorse it too because dressing up is a part of being an actor. I think Sonam Kapoor is amazing for bringing this change in Bollywood by encouraging people to enjoy looking great instead of looking down upon it.“

Bhumi has wrapped up two more films, the Aanand L Rai's production Shubh Mangal Savdhan, directed by R S Prasanna, which will release soon after Toilet - Ek Prem Katha, and reunites her with her first co-star, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Ashi Dua's second instalment in the Bombay Talkies franchise, tentatively titled Love And Lust. She is the leading lady in Zoya Akhtar's 35-minute short in the anthology. “Zoya and I scheduled a Skype call when I was filming Shubh Mangal Savdhan. I would have been a fool to turn down a director who has been on my wishlist since I saw her directorial debut Luck By Chance. She is enterprising, fantastic and has made me do something completely different,“ says the actress, whose wish list also includes a big-budget action-franchise with her kicking and punching baddies.

By the year-end, Bhumi will resume shooting for another Aanand L Rai's production, Manmarziyan, which completes her on-screen hattrick romance with Ayushmann. “We feed off each other's energies, are honest about each other's work and share an unparalleled comfort level,“ says Bhumi, who won't reveal much about Manmarziyan but describes Shubh Mangal Savdhan as a “funny, commercial and romantic“ and her character in it, Sugandha, as “fresh and unique“.

But while there's plenty of romance on the reel, Bhumi is happy being single away from the cameras and jokes that the only reason the paparazzi haven't dug out any dirty linen yet is because there isn't any. “I'm a fairly intelligent girl who is extremely choosy about men. I have a great social life but I cannot live without my family. The thought of moving to a place of my own gives me anxiety pangs, so I'll stay at home for now,“ she signs off with a laugh.