Akshay Kumar's co-star Bhumi Pednekar reacts to 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' controversy
Bhumi Pednekar on protests around Mathura over wedding scene in her next, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, with Akshay Kumar
Bhumi Pednekar and Akshay Kumar
She was introduced to Bollywood as the adorable, obese bride, Sandhya, who held her ground in Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2014). Despite sweeping all awards that year for best debutante, Bhumi Pednekar had to wait long for her second film until she was cast opposite Akshay Kumar in Neeraj Pandey's Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.
The film is a satirical view on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan. The story looks at the odd scenario of what happens when a couple cannot be together because they don't have a home with an in-built toilet. Pandey was perhaps inspired by stories from across India of brides shunning grooms with homes that didn't have a loo.
Unfortunately, the film has witnessed a setback. While shooting began in Nandgaon near Mathura, locals have been displeased about the film's storyline. According to reports, religious leaders are furious for tinkering with local tradition during a marriage sequence.
Bhumi Pednekar and Akshay Kumar in 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha'
The film depicts a wedding between a groom and bride from the villages of Nandgaon and Barsana, although in reality no marriage is solemnised between these villages, since one represents the home of Lord Krishna and the other, Radha.
Bhumi is surprised with the reaction and says the protesters aren't fully aware of the film's content. "We are barely affected by what is written or said," she says of reports on the controversy.
"It's laugh-worthy [the ruckus created]. This film can't offend anyone. It is a clean, happy movie. Neeraj Pandey's (producer) cinematic sensibilities are far from offensive. It's in fact, a light-hearted take on a serious problem, not preachy but a beautiful, romantic family film."
Having Akshay Kumar on set helps keep the spirits up, she says, and while working with the actor was an alluring proposition, it was the script that wooed her. "I loved the concept. I am working with a superstar in a credible film. The story is sharp, funny, but speaks of a pressing problem the audience'll connect with."
A day on set is nothing short of a laugh riot, thanks to Akshay. Bhumi says, "Akshay sir is fantastic. Acting with him is like being at a master class. Going to shoot hardly feels like work; he makes romancing him easy. He charms the crew with witty one-liners and is always up to mischief."
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