Bhumi Pednekar on ‘Bhakshak’ and being a dependable performer for women-centric films

Bhumi Pednekar is set to captivate audiences as Vaishali, a dauntless independent journalist in her forthcoming feature ‘Bhakshak,’ directed by the adept filmmaker Pulkit. The narrative centers on her character’s courageous journey uncovering a grave crime in a shelter for vagrant girls. With Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment serving as the production house, the drama is destined to grip viewers upon its release on Netflix, commencing February 9.

Bhumi Pednekar is not a stranger to female-led cinema, which often tends to craft her challenging roles that she thoroughly embodies to deliver an impactful portrayal. ‘Bhakshak’ continues the actor’s trajectory with films that resonate deeply with societal issues, marking a nuanced departure from her earlier works. The film follows her standout performances in ‘Thank You For Coming,’ where she essayed the role of a woman navigating love and sexual fulfilment, and ‘Afwaah,’—a potent political drama that gripped the critics.

In her recent interview, Bhumi reveals the strategic intent behind her latest role, expressing a desire to veer from the stereotypical depictions of journalism portrayed on screen. Vaishali is portrayed as an earnest journalist, unbowed by corporate might or familial wealth, who takes pride in her profession’s dignity and integrity. Bereft of a badge or weapon, she is shown to confront challenges armed only with her camera, a sidekick cameraman, and a van. The film underlines that Vaishali is not chasing headline-grabbing stories; rather, she is a relatable everywoman grappling with daily struggles. Her approach to journalism in a small town and the untold crisis of the media’s independent circuit informs the film’s gritty realism.

The film thrusts a mirror to the societal apathy we encounter daily and challenges the audience to question their indifference. The narrative emphasizes the gravity of unreported suffering and the indifference to the plight of orphans who remain shadows in society. With Netflix releasing the production, Bhumi Pednekar and her co-star Sanjay Mishra are expected to deliver compelling performances that promise to evoke critical discussions regarding the role of media and society’s conscience.

Bhumi reflects on her career, crediting her successful debut in ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ for setting a strong foundation. She acknowledges the filmmakers who believed in her, influencing her film choices to impact society positively through art—an inclination she attributes to her upbringing, having been exposed to content-rich films by her mother, Sumitra Pednekar, an anti-tobacco activist.

The actress also discusses her venture into the genre of situational comedies and romantic comedies, detailing the diverse range of performance skills each type demands—delivering well-timed dialogue in ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh,’ improvising in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan,’ and reacting to comedic situations in ‘Badhaai Do.’

Despite the shifting audience preferences in the post-pandemic era, Bhumi remains hopeful about the prospects of compelling cinema, regardless of the platform. Films that might not witness the grandeur of crowded theatres still find an appreciative audience in the digital streaming space. Offerings like ‘the 12th Fail,’ ‘Bheed,’ or ‘Afwaah’ exemplify this trend, as these movies garner significant attention and affection post-theatrical release when they hit OTT platforms.

As the movie gears up for its anticipated premiere, ‘Bhakshak’ aims to set a precedent in the genre of socio-drama thrillers by focusing on a side of journalism that often goes unnoticed but is pivotal in unraveling hard truths within our society. With the enriched film landscape of Hindi cinema, it’s a testament to stories that manage to shine a light on overlooked issues, and Bhumi Pednekar’s dedication to such narratives solidifies her as a force within the industry, using her talent to elevate awareness and provoke thought.

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