Bhumi Pednekar stole hearts as the simpleton Sandhya in her debut film Dum Laga Ke Haisha. She then underwent a complete physical transformation and is now back to woo audiences in another unconventional film. Bhumi plays the female lead in Toilet Ek Prem Katha, a love story with a socially relevant subject.

In a chat with Pandolin, Bhumi talks about the importance of such films, what drew her to the role and the experience of working opposite Akshay Kumar.

Bhumi Pednekar (Photo Courtesy: Rahul Jhangiani)

After your first film, were you worried about getting typecast?

I was actually very nervous after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, because a lot of people told me that I would get typecast. The day I had signed the film, I knew that when I would complete the shoot, I would have to start knocking off the weight.

And people did see a change in me. Honestly, after Dum Laga Ke Haisha, with the kind of scripts that I was being offered, there wasn’t a single role where they required the girl to be overweight. I was surprised to see how filmmakers and audiences have evolved. It was a very good feeling to know that you are accepted.

It is a violation of every woman’s rights and privacy. And people need to be made aware. Which is why I chose to do this film

What drew you to a different subject like Toilet Ek Prem Katha?

When I heard the narration of the film, I was blown away! Primarily, Toilet Ek Prem Katha is a love story between Keshav and Jaya. All they want is to be together and everything they are trying to do is for each other. In their epic love story, the ‘toilet’ is the villain.

When I heard the script, there were many things in the film that opened up my eyes to a lot of issues in our country. I come from a privileged family, where I have always had the luxury of a toilet. It’s really sad that I’m calling ‘toilets’ a luxury but unfortunately in our country it is so. The film is primarily a love story with a very important socially relevant message.


With Akshay Kumar in a still from Toilet Ek Prem Katha

How important is it to bring out this subject through the medium of cinema?

Over 50% of rape cases (in India), happen when women go out to defecate. They have to walk for about 4 to 5 kms, away from their homes, because only then can hey find a space where there would be no intrusion. They are so scared for their lives because they could be videotaped, raped or molested. But why should they have to go through such turmoil? It is a violation of every woman’s rights and privacy. And people need to be made aware. Which is why I chose to do this film.

It was a very good feeling to know that you are accepted

You’ve been paired opposite a noted actor like Akshay Kumar, how was the experience of working with someone so senior in your second film?

Working with Akshay was fantastic! Yes, it’s only my second film and I don’t come from a film family. I had heard so many things, stars aise hote hai, vaise hote hai, time pe nahi aatey (Stars are like this and that, they don’t come on time) etc.

It was so refreshing to see that Akshay is none of those things. Somebody at his stage of career, being so driven, dedicated and passionate; it’s brilliant. It was a great example for me, it makes me believe that one can reach that height in your career by not being a typical Bollywood or Hollywood superstar. He is so humble and hardworking; he would actually rehearse every scene a night before. He is a very happy person and believes in spreading happiness.