For fans of Hindi film 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', Bhumi Pednekar is etched in their memories as the smart plus-sized Sandhya. But the actress, who now looks almost unrecognisable in her fit avatar, says she's glad that Bollywood accepts "honest talent", size notwithstanding.
Bhumi Pednekar. Pic/IANS
'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', in which she landed a role by chance, required Bhumi -- a casting assistant herself back then -- to gain over 20 kg. She did, and carried out the endearing role so effortlessly that she has just won a Filmfare Award for her performance.
Asked if Bollywood favours women of a certain weight and size, Bhumi told IANS over phone from Mumbai: "I think today a lot of attention has gone from what you look like physically. I think it existed a few years ago... there has been a very evident change in the kind of cinema our audiences are liking."
"I think people are accepting (actors with) different body types today... I don't think the idea of size zero exists any more. People just want to be fit."
Now ready with her second film "Manmarziyan", Bhumi hopes the audience can relate to the change in her frame.
"I really hope that the audience can relate to it (the change in her avatar). I think the audience connected with me the most in 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' because of the film that I was a part of, the way the story was told and the character was sketched," she said.
Honesty helps, she stressed.
"As actors, you just perform your character and I feel if you do it with honesty, the audience will instantly connect with you. That's my attempt this time as well (for 'Manmarziyan')."
Bhumi also clarified that her weight loss was "always the plan", and not a "requirement" for her second film.
"I had gained a certain amount of weight for my character and the moment I was done, I had to be back to being Bhumi. This (weight loss) was something I had already done and then 'Manmarziyan' came my way," she said.
Before trying her hands in filmdom, Bhumi was assistant to Shanoo Sharma, the casting director of Yash Raj films (YRF), which produced her debut film.
She credits her behind-the-screen experience for her journey in cinema.
"For me, my casting job was actually my acting school. Every day, I would meet actors of different calibre and different kind of directors... So I feel casting was genuinely my workshop, and I enjoyed it also because I got to do a little bit of acting every day," added the actress.
Her first brush with the film industry came when she was a teenager.
"I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to start working when I was really young. And any sort of work experience does not go waste; it always adds to your performance. It has definitely been a very vital part of what I am today," said Bhumi, who had an inclination towards theatre since she was all of 12.