Bhumi Pednekar goes from making rotis to milking cows


My debut film, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, required a lot of prep, starting with me putting on almost 30 kgs.
Since I’m a Mumbai girl and the film was set in Haridwar, in the ’90s before globalisation came to India, I had to unlearn many things too to play Sandhya, a small town girl with simple dreams. For starters, I had to work on my lingo, as the chaste language spoken in Haridwar is very different from Mumbaiya Hindi and I was expected to converse like a local.
I also had to learn how to do household chores and how to cook. Making rotis and chai may sound mundane, but it’s tough if you haven’t done it before. I’m a pampered child still living with my parents and the workshops were all about making me become less urban.
I went to Haridwar two weeks before the shoot and spent a lot of time with our local line-producers’ families. I would clean utensils and look after their children. I also visited the local beauty parlours to get a manicure or a facial and earrings and chains off carts as part of the character building. I also learnt to lip sync my lines. Earlier, I would also lip sync Ayushmann’s (Khurrana) lines.
For the last song, “Tu Meri”, we rehearsed for days because dancing was tougher for me back then with all the extra weight. Two year later, for “Gori Tu Latt Maar” in Toilet-Ek Prem Katha with Akshay Kumar, we had to tell a story through the song and that required me to work on my expressions. Since I enjoy dancing, I didn’t consider this a task. However, learning the khari boli for the film, was one. Interestingly, every film I’ve done required me to work on the dialect and accent. Fortunately, I’ve been able to pull it off.
For Toilet Ek Prem Katha, I also travelled to places like Bhopal to meet women who had left their husbands because the house had no toilet. I also learnt to ride a cycle. When I was young, I’d met with an accident while cycling but acting helped me conquer that fear and today I can proudly say I’ve progressed to learning how to ride a scooty. I’ve also learnt how to milk a cow and fetch water from a well. These may sound trivial, but they enhance the characters you play further.
For my upcoming film with Sushant Singh Rajput, Son Chiriya, I had to carry pots of water on my head and walk barefoot around Aram Nagar in Andheri to understand the ordeal of the women living in Chambal. Takht, my first historical, will also require a lot of prep.

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