There are some actors who find themselves in the characters they play on screen. They breathe life into them in such a way that their real selves are dwarfed by comparison. Bhumi Pednekar is one of those rare actors. In the span of a year, she went from being the glamorous Delhi girl, who she admits is closest to her real life, in Thank You for Coming, to the deglamorous, unforgiving reporter from Patna in Bhakshak. And she would pay a lot more money to see her in the latter than in the former.
(Also Read: Bhumi Pednekar Gets Nostalgic As Badhaai Do Turns 2: ‘Grateful For Love, Endless Smiles’)
No, thanks for coming?
Bhumi has referred to last year’s Karan Boolani sex comedy, Thank You for Coming, as a “massive therapy session.” He said he was a closer part of her with very similar conflicts to what he faces in real life. And that it was much more vulnerable to play her than the glamorous roles that he has defended throughout her career. “There was no padding, no layers to protect me. “I felt very naked.” she said.
But perhaps Bhumi is an actor who doesn’t operate so well with vulnerability. He perhaps needs the ‘filler’ to deliver more heartfelt performances. Contrary to what he claims, I doubt he didn’t enjoy her performance in Thank You for Coming because of how she was dressed. Maybe it was the male gaze, maybe it was the awkward comedic timing, but Thank You for Coming felt like a failure because Bhumi was playing, when all he needed was his usual toolbox to convey the character’s angst. of the.
By “uncomfortable” I don’t mean the theme of the movie. Because we have seen her star in that part of Kajal Yadav in Alankrita Srivastava’s 2020 Netflix India film Dolly Kitty Aur Wo Chamakte Sitare. She played a rural girl from Bihar who moves to Noida and joins a night call center under the name ‘Kitty’. Like Thank You for Coming, the film is also about a girl’s journey towards sexual empowerment. But the expression we see on Bhumi’s face when she has sex for the first time with Vikrant Massey’s Pradeep says everything that two hours of self-pitying physical comedy in the other film couldn’t say: that a girl doesn’t need a man to do your sexually satisfying life.
Likewise, perhaps Bhumi shouldn’t attribute Thank You For Coming’s failure to her wardrobe. Maybe it’s his first time and he needs another chance to hit the mark. If he needs to follow the example of another actor who struck gold by taking late night calls on screen, he should see how Vidya Balan’s career took off. Having made her debut as the ideal sari-clad Bhartiya Nari in Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta (2005), Vidya was mercilessly shamed for her Western fashion choices in later films like Hey Babyy (2007) and Kismat Connection ( 2008). But she turned the criticism around by finding her own sweet spot and embracing both her Indianness and her sensuality in hits like The Dirty Picture and Tumhari Sulu.
Admittedly, even in two other films where Bhumi explored a similar, though not as urbane and upscale, comedic and glamorous role, her attempts have not been as praised. In Abhay Chopra’s Pati Patni Aur Woh (2019) and Shashank Khaitan’s Govinda Naam Mera (2022), Bhumi has upped the oomph factor in him and also flirted with comedy. However, in those places she doesn’t seem to be so at peace with herself. Perhaps, by playing such roles, Bhumi is ironically trying to be something she is not. Ironically, because that’s exactly what an actor is supposed to do.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha Effect?
Bhumi made her debut in 2015 as Sandhya in Sharat Kataria’s Haridwar romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha, where she played a plus-size, highly educated woman who marries lanky shop owner Prem (Ayushmann Khurrana). . Not surprisingly, Bhumi was also considered that size outside the film, just as Ranveer Singh was considered a Dilli ka launda when the Bandra boy was introduced as Bittu Sharma in the 2010 hit Band Baaja Baaraat. Needless to say, people were shocked to see him speak impeccable English on Koffee with Karan and witness a slim and fit Bhumi accept the debutante award on stage.
Similarly, Richa Chadha, who made her debut with Oye Lucky! Good luck, hey! (2008), she got a commercial breakthrough as a village old woman in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2010). When she was at an awards show to receive a debutante award next year, a producer spoke to her in Hindi, assuming that Stephanian would not speak English well. Stereotypes are not new in Hindi cinema, especially if you start in a role that is very far away from you.
Bhumi maintains that she likes to dress up, although her characters may have a more modest way of doing so. But I think it’s a good problem, if the same people who wouldn’t watch her interviews because of her myth-busting ‘ultra-glamorous’ looks or her exclusive Juhu-infested accent, would actually pay for the movie tickets. of her where she is. she doesn’t play herself, or a closer version of that. Like what Janhvi Kapoor said was her epiphany: Her 23.6 million Instagram followers can like her groomed photos, but they won’t pay. $200 to see her freeze to death in Mili (2022).
I think it must hurt terribly not to be accepted as she is: a 34-year-old privileged girl from Mumbai who loves to dress up for the red carpet. But does that stop us from seeing her as a wife whose silent pain makes her husband build a toilet for her in her village in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha (2017)? Or not feel anything for her when she desperately tries to seduce her fiancé who is struggling with erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan (2017)? Or make us less vengeful for her when her employer and sexual partner relegates her to the background due to her social status in Lust Stories (2018)?
Hell, she can play a gold medal-winning senior shooter in Saand Ki Aaankh as convincingly as a lesbian physical education teacher from Dehradun in Badhaai Do (2022). If she is celebrated for roles lacking in vanity, such as Sonchiriya (2019), Bheed (2023) and Afwaah (2023), and overlooked for a singular character in which she felt more at home, it is not a bad deal. . Perhaps Bhumi Pednekar will continue to be that casting assistant for Shanoo Sharma who would improve the auditions of actors like Ranveer Singh.
Maybe Bhumi is that actor to whom all those auditions and deep-rooted characters have rubbed off on him so much that he can’t fully come into his own again. Maybe he doesn’t have so much to do with the audience’s gaze as with her losing herself in women he is not. If Thank You for Coming had successfully altered the audience’s perception of her, they would not have praised her again for her recent role as a Bihari freelance journalist in Bhakshak. Perhaps Bhumi should not try so hard to find herself in the roles she plays, but rather she should continue to lose herself in them.
In Role Call, Devansh Sharma decodes casting choices inspired by movies and shows.
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