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INTERVIEW – Toilet: A life changing experience for Bhumi Pednekar

A strong lady, without any godfather in the industry has succeeded giving such impactful movies with her extreme talent and dedication.

Bhumi Pednekar, who had earlier done ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, where she plays the character of a overweight lady married to a man who apparently dislikes her for the same. Which is an issue with most of the women in real and here she comes again with another serious issue.

During the promotion of ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’, Bhumi interacted with the media and shared her non-filmy background journey, life changing experiences, fitness mantra and also what she learnt from Mr. Khiladi Kumar while doing the film. She also talks about nepotism in the industry and many other societal issues.

Did all these come to your mind, how difficult it would be for audiences to accept you? how did you overcome that block?

I was actually very nervous after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, because a lot of people had put this in my head that I will be a typecast. The day I had signed the film, and when I’m done shooting, I’ll have to start knocking off the root. People saw a change in me and honestly after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, the kind of scripts I got there wasn’t a single role where they required the girl going to be overweight. I was surprised to see how filmmakers and audiences have really evolved. It was a very good feeling to know that you are accepted.

What drew you to this role and the film?

When I heard the narration of the film, I was blown away! Sea toilet primarily is a love story of Keshav and Jaya all they want is to be together and everything they are trying to do is for each other. In this epic love story of there’s where ‘toilet’ becomes the villain. When I heard the script there were things in the film that really opened up my eyes about a lot of issues in our country. I come from a privileged family, where I have always the luxury of toilet and it’s really sad that I’m calling the ‘toilet’ a luxury but unfortunately in our country it is. So, it is a love story with a very important socially relevant subject.

So, did you go round visiting these rural areas where they didn’t have toilets?

Over 50% of rape cases in India, happens when women go out for defecated. In rural areas there’s no electricity and can only go to the bathroom before the sunrises and after the sunsets because it’s a security threats. They walk about 4 to 5 kms away from their homes because that’s the only areas where they find a space where there would be no intrusion. They are so scared for their lives because they may be mms, videotaped, rape or molest, why they have to go through such turmoil. Mulund toilet cases that happened, where 100 of girls said ‘No’ to getting married to these boys because there were no toilets. Women leave the door open and do there business, I mean it’s such a violation of your rights and privacy. This is the reason why I did the film ‘toilet’.

How was it working with Akshay?

Working with akshay was fantastic! It’s only my second film and I don’t come from filmy family. I had also heard such things ki stars aise hote hai, vaise hote hai time pe nai aatey hai. It was so refreshing to see because he’s none of those things. Somebody at his stage of his career, being so driven, dedicated and passionate. It was great example for me, you can also reach that height in your career by not being typical conventional bollywood or hollywood superstar. He is so humble,hardworking and would actually rehearse scene a night before everyday. He is a very happy person and spreading happiness.

Do you think it takes a toll on your whole body system and how did you deal with it ?

Definitely, I was mentally prepared that I’ll have to go through these processes in life. I had gained about 27 kgs for dum laga ke haisha, what helped me really was I’m realistic, meine ye nahi socha tha ke 2 mahina ab mein pata nahi kaha se pohch jaongi. I was prepared that it will only take you a year, I wanted to do it naturally because I didn’t want the rest of my life trying to fix, what I did to lose weight. Neither I suffer nor I starve, I ate well and did what I had to. I didn’t deprived myself and I had dal, sabji and roti not only just salad or soup. I’m happy! that I did it in a healthy and amazing way. I have shared my entire journey on Instagram, if you want to see.

Who do you admire on this?

Shilpa shetty, there’s nobody who has body like her. She’s just amazing, when I see her yoga and workout videos, she always looks well fit. She has been inspiration for many generations.

On screen you look little bigger than your actual age, so do you think that it need to be broken?

100%, I have seen enough mainstream actresses also do it now only. I wouldn’t say that it started off with Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I have seen Rani Mukherjee, do what she had to and actually actresses of that time they would also change with their films. I think Indian women are generally voluptuous and curvy. The way you decide character’s hair should long or short, according to their personality. So there are other aspects also, in my films I have emotionally and physically tried changing them as much as possible. I feel that what I have done with Jaya in the toilet and sugandha both the characters look and feel completely different. I can’t promote melania and size zero, what we should promote is mental fitness and feeling confident about yourself.

Did you feel any point of time that growing is difficult here?

No, I come from a non filmy and upper middle class family, where I was given best of education and everything. I was working and casting in Yash Raj but I always wanted to be an actor. The response I got after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, it was shocking because I didn’t expect the industry to accept me like this. I got a lot of offers after Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I have not face nepotism, we have not even supported nepotism while I was casting earlier.

If you have to pick up your 5 favorite Bollywood movies, which ones it would be?

Rang De Basanti, Omkara, Mother India, Kal Ho Na Ho and DDLJ, I really loved these movies because it’s all path breaking. I guess, I was 13 or 14, when these films were realized. It was like God was giving signals to me that this what you are meant to do.

Transcribed By – Jyoti Pathak

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