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Happy Birthday Bhumi Pednekar: A Social Justice Warrior on and off Screen

Happy Birthday Bhumi Pednekar: A Social Justice Warrior on and off Screen

On actress Bhumi Pednekar's 32nd birthday, let us take a look at her unique filmography as well as her off-screen activism.

Actress Bhumi Pednekar celebrates her 32nd birthday on July 18. Bhumi, who started her career as an assistant casting director, has established herself as an important person in the film industry. She stepped into Bollywood with the 2015 film Dum Laga Ke Haisha, for which she received critical acclaim. Since then, there has been no looking back for her.

In Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Bhumi played an overweight woman who tries to win her husband’s love and respect. It was one of the very few films which had a plus-sized lead in Bollywood, challenging the industry’s rigid beauty standards. Bhumi, who gained weight for her role took a big risk debuting with the film. However, Bhumi has beem consistent with her choice of ‘risky’ films.

Throughout her career, the actress has chosen scripts which have an underlying social issue in them. After Dum Laga Ke Haisha, she appeared in Toilet Ek Prem Katha in 2017, a film about the importance of clean sanitation. In the same year, she starred with Ayushmann Khurrana in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. The film dealt with the taboo of erectile dysfunction. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan was a hilarious and entertaining film, but it normalised the conversation around men’s sexuality.

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The next year, she appeared in Zoya Akhtar’s segment in the Netflix anthology Lust Stories, where she played a domestic worker who has an affair with her employer. The short film made a statement about the stark class difference between the two characters and how society doesn’t like the two mixing.

2019 was Bhumi’s busiest year as she appeared in four films. She started with Sonchiriya, a critically acclaimed yet underrated film about a group of dacoits and their quest for survival. She was then seen in Saand Ki Aankh, the biopic of Chandro and Prakashi Tomar (essayed by Taapsee Pannu), India’s oldest sharpshooters.

In the same year she played Latika Trivedi in Amar Kaushik’s Bala with Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam. While the film talked about male pattern baldness, Bhumi’s role was pivotal as it made a statement against colourism in the country. The same year, she also starred in Pati Patni Aur Woh, which was a rom-com.

In 2020, she made cameos in Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan, a film about a gay couple in a small town of India, as well as the horror film Bhoot Part One: The Haunted Ship. She starred in Alankrita Shrivastava’s Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, a film about two sisters trying to find their place in the world. The film talked about various issues women face in their lives and also started a discussion on female sexuality.

Her latest film was Durgamati, the remake of the Telugu film Bhaagmathie, starring Anushka Shetty. Durgamati, a horror film on the surface, but also a political commentary with a feminist angle.

Bhumi’s activism against various social issues extends to her real life as well. In 2019, she started a campaign called Climate Warrior to raise awareness on the climate crisis. She has actively spoken out against the exploitation of the environment by corporates as well as human behavior and shares ways in which we can all contribute to the aversion of the crisis.

In 2020, Bhumi joined the MTV campaign titled Nishedh, which aimed to create awareness about sexual and reproductive health among the youth. Bhumi is also outspoken about women’s issues. She has often talked about the large pay gap with male and female actors in the film industry. She is an active proponent for equal pay.

During the pandemic, too, Bhumi started an online campaign with Ketto.org titled ‘Covid Warrior X Ketto’ which helped in getting financial aid for the patients affected during the second wave of Covid-19. She also partnered with actor-comedian Kapil Sharma to provide oxygen cylinders to hospitals and patients affected by Covid-19 second wave in Karnataka. Through Mission Zindagi, the actress sent buses with oxygen concentrators to hospitals that required oxygen.

On the work front, Bhumi will be next seen in Badhaai Do with Rajkummar Rao and Raksha Bandhan with Akshay Kumar.

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first published:July 18, 2021, 07:07 IST