Has it been easy?
Bhumi clears her throat, pauses and answers ‘no’ with a laugh. “Of course it hasn’t been easy. It’s never easy for an actor who doesn’t have connections in the film industry and who has to start from scratch. Of course I am from Mumbai. But no one in my family is connected to the film industry. And to be now doing the kind of films that I want to, on my own terms, that’s quite something for me.”
Bhumi’s roster of roles is indeed quite impressive. “I’m working with directors whom I consider to be among the best talent we have. Whether it is Alankrita Shrivastava in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, Anurag Kashyap in Saand Ki Aankh, Amar Kaushik in Bala or Mudassar Aziz in Pati Patni Aur Woh…these are directors I believe in, as much as they believe in me”
Bhumi is also very proud of Sonchiriya. “Agreed it didn’t work at the box office. But I believe Sonchiriya is a film that will be recalled with much pride and respect many years from now. We all worked very hard to make it a very special work. And I consider the director Abhishek Sir to be a genius.”
The actress who exuded a Smita Patil kind of earthy passion in Sonchiriya says, “To be compared with Smitaji, that’s a huge compliment. For me every role I pick has to take me to a place where I haven’t been before. I am proud to be associated with films that allow me to portray characters at the grass-root. Women especially in rural India have to undergo such suffering and pain. It is important for our cinema to address their pain anger and frustrations.”
However Bhumi says she is open to playing a typical singing dancing heroine. “Like I said, I am a Mumbai girl. I would love to play an urban working girl.”
Misconceptions about Bhumi started from the time she played an overweight girl in her debut film. Audiences and sections of the film industry presumed she actually had weight issues when in fact she shed all the extra kilos after the release of Dum Lagake Haisha.
In her next release Saand Ki Aankh she again plays a rustic character, triggering off speculation on her background. “I don’t mind being seen in a certain way as long as I get to play roles of substance. And I am not talking about the footage I am provided. In Gully Boy it was all about Ranveer Singh and the boys. But look at how Alia Bhatt created her own space in the narrative. That’s the kind of impact I want to create. People should remember my characters, not the number of scenes I had in every film. I hope to leave a legacy behind.”
For now there is Bhumi sharing screen space with Tapsee Pannu in Saand Ki Aankh, and they get along like a house on fire. “This is a film about female empowerment sisterhood and kinship. It was very important for both us to get along. Luckily we hit it off from Day 1.”
Bhumi admits most of her friends are from outside the film industry. “I rely completely on my close circle of family and friends for feedback and emotional sustenance. My friends have been with me from before I became an actor. They like everything I do on screen. So let’s just forget about honest feedback.”
So who does she play in Pati Patni Aur Woh, the patni or the woh?
Bhumi laughs, “That you will have to find out for yourself. All I can say is, this is a very contemporary remake of the classic comedy film. Kartik Aryan, Ananya Pandey and I play characters of today. Very contemporary, believable and likeable. One can’t live in the past. Cinema has to move with the times.”