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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Movies » 'If I am offered a film with Salman, I would ask the world to pinch me'

'If I am offered a film with Salman, I would ask the world to pinch me'

By Rajul Hegde
Last updated on: March 05, 2015 20:16 IST
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'I didn’t think a person with my body type would be acceptable (in the film industry) even though I was comfortable with my weight.'

Dum Laga Ke Haisha's Bhumi Pednekar gets ready for showbiz.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha actress Bhumi Pednekar was a casting agent at Yash Raj Films before she signed up for the film.

Today, the 25-year-old girl is basking in the rave reviews of the film and her performance. She has even got herself a three-film deal with YRF, and hopes to work in more performance-oriented movies.

Bhumi tells contributor Rajul Hegde how she bagged the film, and life after its release. 

Tell us about yourself.

I was with YRF for six years. I joined it because I wanted to be part of films.

I had a flare for acting. I was actively involved in school and college plays.

But I was never vocal about it. I didn’t think that a person with my body type would be acceptable even though I was comfortable with my weight.

So how did Dum Laga Ke Haisha happen?

As casting director, I would audition a hundred people and learnt a lot from their different approaches to playing a character.

We were looking for plus-size girls to play the part of Sandhya in Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I was always plump. Shanoo Sharma (the casting director) suggested we record a mock audition with me as a reference to send to people, who live outside Mumbai.

That was my first audition, which I wasn’t aware of.

A few days later, Shanoo told me I had cleared the first round!

I was very excited and started preparing for the other rounds while also auditioning other girls as part of my job. 

There were extensive routine auditions with the director Sharat Katariya, which went on for 15 days.

Go on.

Sharat wasn’t very excited about me. He thought I was very urban and had a slight Marathi twang. He didn’t think I was a good actor either.

There were other girls who had an equal chance of getting this film. But I guess eventually he saw something in me that made him think that this is the girl.

What was your weight when you bagged the film?

I was a little more than what I am now, which is 65 kilos. I am still overweight, but this is the most I can do.

To prepare for the role I gained about 13-15 kilos over a period of about six to eight months.

I was bordering on 90 towards the end. I would gorge on butter chicken. Those were the best days of my life! I got to do the things that I love the most -- act and eat.

How did you lose weight after the film?

I didn’t go on a crash diet or have a personal dietician. My aim wasn’t to become skinny.

I started eating homemade food and the weight automatically started dropping over a period of eight to 10 months.

I go for regular walks and the gym like before. If a part requires me to be extremely fit, I will do it.

It is a positive change that talent is being appreciated more than the way you look.

I strongly feel it is not about being beautiful but about feeling beautiful. Body size really doesn’t matter.

Did you do workshops for the film?

My director had inhibitions about me as an actor, so I had to prove him wrong.

Seema Pahwa, who plays my mother in the film, helped me a lot. She helped me work on my dialect. We had long discussions before the shoot, which helped improve my performance. That’s why you see great chemistry between us.

I also started spending time with my extended family who live in smaller places.

We lived in Haridwar for a while. We shopped, visited local parlours and other places to experience life over there.

I wanted to know how girls live, dress and behave in Haridwar. Interaction with the locals helped to get into the skin of the character.

Ayushmann Khurrana, your co-star, had to carry you in one scene. How did he manage that?

His body double couldn’t carry me but Ayushmann did. He used to be a sportsman.

What was it like working with him?

Ayushmann is a very earnest actor. He was so down-to-earth. I was okay making mistakes around him. I was okay learning from him.

It was okay for me to go up to him and discuss things with him. He made me really comfortable.

If I made mistakes or got shouted at, Ayushmann would tell me it is okay, it happens. He complimented my work.

What is the best compliment you have got so far?

The best compliment I have got is from my mother. I was very happy when she told me that she was proud of the actor I had become and the maturity with which I played the character.

My mother and sister are my biggest critics. If they feel I have done something right, I am happy.

What feedback did you get from Rani Mukherji and the film fraternity?

When Rani appreciates your work, your brain stops working for a very long time (smiles).

I was overwhelmed. Her body of work is amazing. She has been an inspiration in my life as an actor.

She said it’s a beautiful film and you have done a great job. She appreciated all of us together.

Overall, everybody said good things.

Parineeti Chopra tweeted about the film.

She is lovely, amazing and a sweetheart. She has been so supportive about this.

I told Parineeti that just the fact that she messaged me gave me immense confidence.

I am a very big fan of her work. She is one of the brightest actors of my generation.

Who is your favourite actor?

I am a very big fan of Shah Rukh and Salman Khan. I love their work. They are legends.

If Salman enters the room now, I will faint.

If I am offered a film with him, I would probably ask the world to pinch me. I won’t believe it till it actually happens. I don’t know whether I would be able to work or not.

So what’s next for you?

I hope to get similar performance-oriented roles.

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Rajul Hegde / in Mumbai