Chandro was a role of a lifetime, Bhumi Pednekar says

Chandro was a role of a lifetime, Bhumi Pednekar says

By Michael Gomes

Published: Tue 22 Oct 2019, 10:26 AM

Last updated: Wed 30 Oct 2019, 6:13 PM

After winning hearts with her unconventional roles in films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Toilet Ek Prem Katha and more, Bhumi Pednekar is all fired up for her latest movie Saand Ki Aankh. The actress plays the octogenarian shooter Chandro Tomar in the film. According to her, this was one of most challenging parts she has played yet, but she relished it. We speak to Bhumi ahead of the movie's release in the UAE to find out more.

Are you nervous that Saand Ki Aankh will be clashing with Akshay Kumar's Housefull 4 for Diwali?
Definitely, but more than the Diwali clash, I'm nervous about the fact that the film is finally going to be out (it's been 5 years in the making). It's an extremely special film made with a lot of love. As actors, both Taapsee and me are the vulnerable sort, but we've challenged ourselves in this film and are trying to do something different. Tushar (Hiranandani, director) worked very hard because there was no precedent for this film. It's also the first time you have a two-heroine led film releasing on Diwali. But Taapsee and me are huge supporters of Akshay Kumar and his film. In fact, when the trailer of our movie was out, Akshay was among the first people from the industry  to video call and congratulate us. Moreover, Diwali is a time when people want to go out and celebrate and I'm sure they will go to the theatres to watch our film.

You are known to take on unconventional characters, but this is the first time you are playing a woman double your age, how was the experience?
Saand Ki Aankh is my fifth movie. My journey in the industry has been quite short, it began just a few years back (with Dum Laga Ke Haisha in 2015). I've been quite fortunate to bag such prime roles. Talking about my character Chandro in Saand Ki Aankh. I had an instant connect with dadi the first time I read the script, because I found a lot of similarities between her and my grandmother - the way she talks and walks. She's not impulsive, she's extremely emotional, a planner, and doer and thinker who doesn't take rash decisions. These were some of the qualities in her that I immediately resonated with. Then I saw her picture and I said that physically, Taapsee and I perfectly fitted both characters like a glove. In the beginning, we were wondering how we were going to pull it off, but then we were ready to overcome any challenges.

We heard that you and Taapsee had to undergo an intensive preparation programme before filming started? You also suffered severe burns on your face due to the prosthetics?  
Yes, we spent nearly three months prepping for the movie - from the body language to the accent to the dialect (Haryanvi). We went through multiple look tests. It wasn't easy for us to sit in the makeup chair for four-and-a-half hours every day for two months wearing makeup. We got burns on our face (while shooting in north India's searing heat wearing the prosthetic makeup) and I was also worried that doing this might permanently damage my skin. It happened, and we had to take a break from filming because the makeup was perforating my skin. It came to a point when the skin was literally in my hand and my doctor said that 'if you don't stop now the damage would be serious'. I couldn't go out in the sun for five days and was confined to a dark room. However, the biggest challenge for us was the mental and emotional transformation. My character has lived 40 years more than me, how do I bring in that experience into my performance. That could only happen by creating conversations with Chandro dadi, with observations of my grandmother and having long chats with my mother. Bringing all these aspects to the screen was a huge challenge for me.

There was much criticism after the poster of Saand Ki Aankh was out. People didn't like the idea of younger actors playing characters double their age when so many talented seniors could have played the roles. So what kind of support did you get from the fraternity?
They fully supported us. It was only one per cent of the Twitteratti who were not happy that we were asked to play octogenarians in the movie. However, people from the industry kept on calling and congratulating us. In the end, I feel if the film is good, everything falls into place. Time and again Taapsee has been reiterating that 'we are actors and it's our job to be able to do any role'.  If I cannot see myself playing different characters, then there's no point in me being an actor, especially with the kind of films that I do. If that were the case, then technically, I should not have been part of Dum Laga Ke Haisha, because I had gained so much weight for the movie - that's what actors do. In my future films too, I am experimenting with my characters. I truly feel that social media is a place where people have the right to express their opinion, but we don't have to agree with them. But for me Chandro was a role of a lifetime.

Do you have a natural affinity towards unconventional characters?
Taking on unconventional roles started off right from my first film (Dum Laga Ke Haisha). The film kind of created a path for me to play odd characters. I realised that this is what I enjoy doing and it's going to give me maximum creative satisfaction and visibility.

What else are you passionate about?
Climate change. I am constantly educating people and creating as much awareness as I can about saving water, the distress that our planet is going through and how to co-exist with nature.
michael@khaleejtimes.com




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