She is the newest Yash Raj heroine – but king-size!
Bhumi Pednekar, who plays Sandhya, the Haridwar hausfrau who tilts the weighing scale at 85 kilos in Dum Laga Ke Haisha, has, like the film, been loved unanimously by audiences and critics. She turns out to be a surprising 64 kilos when we meet up at YRF Studios. Clearly, Bhumi’s success has broken convention, just like the success of the film.
Bhumi was assisting YRF casting director Shanoo Sharma when the plan to cast an overweight actress as per the script of this film was mooted. Excitedly, she wanted to select the best girl. Little did she know that the ‘mock’ audition she was made to give (for aspirants away from Mumbai, she was told) was in fact her own test! Of course, she had to satisfy writer-director Sharat Katariya even after gloriously passing that first audition!
And that is when “the best phase of my life” as she calls it, began. “I had to put on lots of weight, by eating the yummiest things possible! I had a flair for acting since I was 12, so I was now doing the two things I loved most – acting and eating – actually as a prep!” she laughs.
Basking now in rave reviews and appreciation from all quarters including from Rani Mukerji and Parineeti Chopra (she rates both very high), Bhumi treasures most her mother’s proud remark about the maturity she has shown in her acting debut.
“The film is about two people with complexes, a girl who wants a good husband, is fat but like me courageous and comfortable about it, and a man who knows his own shortcomings,” she goes on. “So the challenge was to become Sandhya in more than just the physical sense.”
Proving director Sharat Katariya’s initial doubts about her wrong was Bhumi’s next agenda. “I am an urban Maharashtrian, so off I went to Haridwar and stayed with one of our line producers in his house, swept the floor, cooked for them, and changed the kid’s clothes. I had facials done twice in beauty parlours there, shopped for local clothes for my character in the town and spent lots of time in the houses shown as Sandhya’s sasural and her parents’ home, which were real houses, not sets.”
Her co-stars, says Bhumi, were as much inspirational as Sharat’s script and clear vision. “Ayushmann Khurrana’s cool nature made it okay for me to make some mistakes or seek guidance. Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa who plays my mother and other veterans were so inspiring. The race sequence was very hectic, but I loved the song ‘Dard karaara’ so much that I would lip-sync to even Ayushmann’s lines!” she recalls laughingly.
“I have always considered myself to be the prettiest girl,” smiles Bhumi, admitting that her star innings have started with a three-film contract with YRF, the banner that has given her everything she wanted in her wildest dreams.
– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music. An Author and Jury Member (58th National Film Awards).
Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar
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