Bhumi Pednekar: "It Was Humiliating…"
What made Bhumi so embarrassed about?
Are you looking for films that speak about social issues?
I am so lucky that I joined the industry when such films are being made and I feel as an actor, I am lucky to break stereotypes. I think the audience want a break from the love stories.
What was the reaction when you heard the script of Toilet Ek Prem Katha?
When I heard the title, I said that I wanted to hear the script. They told me it was a romantic film and that it was quirky. Then I heard the entire script. In this small love story the toilet becomes a big villain. I was very attracted to it (the script). The undercurrent is the big social issue. It's not preachy or a documentary.
Did you ever face this problem when you went out of town (of not having proper toilets around)?
When I went on road trips, I faced this problem. I was 14 to 15 years old then and I had reached a village on a road trip. I asked around if I can use a toilet but there were none around. I asked why there isn’t one in the house. The villager told me that the same aangan (courtyard) that has a Tulsi plant cannot have a toilet. I realised that it is not an issue of building enough toilets, it is an issue of a mindset. Today, 54 per cent of the country don't have toilets. We have to evolve and unless we change the mindset, nothing can be done.
What was the experience like (the scene where she had to defecate in the open)?
When I was doing the scene where I had to defecate in the open, I felt humiliated. I was acting and not actually going there yet the feeling was humiliating for me. No wonder, women, especially in the rural areas were so happy that we were doing a film on this issue.
Were you aware that Akshay is going to play the lead in the film?
I had gone to Amritsar when I got a call for this film and writers were in Amritsar too. I didn't know for a long time that Akshay was a part of the film.
What other subjects would you like Bollywood films to be made on?
As an actor and filmmaker you have to make films on such subjects but at the same time you have to entertain so that everybody enjoys the film. I think films on water crisis should be made. I want many things to be spoken about, right from sanitary napkins to molestation, from dowry to rape to female foeticide. I would like to work with all directors.
Akshay is known to be a prankster did he play pranks with you?
He is humble. When he is on set, he is so professional! He is a good example for me. His temperament is so good. I am inspired by him. He would work out before the shoot and he is very punctual. We had a lot of fun, playing board games, cricket or football. He also played a prank on me. We were sitting by a lake and suddenly they (the production people) told me that we had to dive into the water. Everyone knew about this and as I was going to jump they told me to stop as they were joking.
What next? .
I don't know and never thought about it. I am doing my job and I have been lucky enough to shoot back-to -back. Right now, I am absorbing as much as I can. I have finished shooting for Shubha Mangala Saavadhan. That should also release soon.