‘I was 4 years old in the 90’s’

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Says the Dum Lagake Haisha heroine Bhumi Pednekar who plays an overweight girl from Benaras in the film set in the 90s! She tells Manju Ramanan how weight matters only as long as roles demand it

She is not your ideal Yashraj heroine with stunning chiffon saris and an urbane sense of style. But Bhumi Pednekar is thrilled to play the leading lady in  the film That the character she plays is overweight doesn’t  bother her. 

You dared to play an overweight girl in your debut film?

To be brutally honest to you, for a newcomer getting a break from YRF was a dream come true. I read the script and was completely blown away by it. It is not a conventional script at all. We are not making fun of overweight people in this film. It is a love story of a girl who is not thin. I essayed it like I would essay any other role. The role required me to put on extra weight and I did so.  If I had to play a patient who was 30 kgs and had to look the part, I would gladly do it. Now I am back to my regular weight. I have always been on the heavier side and have had no qualms about it.

How did you arrive at your look? Was it just about weight gain?

It is not just the weight gain. It is about your skin, hair, hormones and the entire physical transformation. I had to become Sandhya the girl from Hardwar who wants to be at teacher from Bhumi, the girl from Mumbai. I had to learn the dialect of the space from Seema Pahwa.  The costumes by Darshan Jalan were well researched and gave me the look of a girl from Haridwar. I have worn seaters, sindoor, and mangalsutra throughout the film. I have never experienced the 90s as an adult as is shown in the film, I was 4 years old in the 90’s ( giggles). But that is what acting is all about!

You worked with YRF for a long time. Do we see another Parineeti Chopra in the making?

I was 18 years old when I joined YRF. I have had a long association with them and worked across various departments. I started out as a casting assistant, then worked with Abhimanyu Rai as AD then worked in the creative team for a while and then joined Shanu Sharma again in the casting team. Parineeti and I worked together for some time and I am thrilled for her.

What about your next film?

I am aware that people stereotype you in the industry. As an actor today you are given enough space. I would like to challenge myself. I want to be flexible with my roles. There are things in the pipeline right now but it will be a while till I can announce something.

Did weight ever bother you?

I was never a thin girl. I have always been plump but I have been extremely active. I love being active and enjoy working out.  I n the last 8 months I have lost close to 20 kgs. After the film it was like, let’s get back to normal and eat healthy things. I have always had a concoction of karela and neem juice the first thing in the morning since my childhood.