‘Bhakshak’ made me question my numbness: Bhumi Pednekar


PTI, Feb 9, 2024, 6:18 PM IST

New Delhi: Some stories are difficult to move on from and they leave one angry and questioning, says actor Bhumi Pednekar about playing an investigative journalist who uncovers the sexual abuse of young children at a shelter home in her new film “Bhakshak”.

Bhumi said she questioned her own reaction to headlines describing instances of abuse while working on the movie that’s inspired by true events.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to move on from ‘Bhakshak’ because it is about something that is actually happening with little children in the society. This is not specific to one area of India, this could be happening anywhere around us. It’s overwhelming, it angers you and it also gets you to question what you are doing about it,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

“I really hope impacts the audiences, where you kind of question your decisions. It made me question my empathy and how I had become so numb towards somebody else’s pain,” she added.

The Netflix film, which started streaming from Friday, is backed by superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s banner Red Chillies Entertainment.

Bhumi, who made a promising debut with 2015’s “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” and then starred in movies like “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha”, “Bala” and “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, said with the film, she realised cinema can be a powerful tool to highlight important issues.

“I was saddened that my research material for the movie was somebody’s reality… What we see (in the film) is the harsh reality of how a lot of children are living in these shelter homes. They didn’t know that life is supposed to be any other way. Some of them were so young that they didn’t even know what was happening with them,” the actor said.

Bhumi plays Vaishali Singh, a local reporter in Bihar, who tries to expose the cases of sexual abuse at a girl’s shelter home.

“As a public figure, I just hope that through me this film reaches the right audience who are affected by it and, in turn, will do something about it,” she added.

The actor credits director Pulkit for helping her bring the character alive for the screen. He has directed the film from a script he wrote with Jyotsana Nath.

“I truly feel this is, maybe, one of my most mature performances. And that came from the fact that he showed such immense faith in me and just gave me a platform to go searching. We’ve made Vaishali Singh together. Her silent strength was not written, that’s something we found out,” she said.

The film also changed the actor’s perception about media and journalism, and she has a newfound respect for reporters in the hinterlands.

“For me, it (journalism) was all about being hyper and opinions but that’s not what it is. There’s an entire world of independent journalism in our country that I wasn’t even aware of. On a lower level, they are the ones that kind of break these stories and work hard until it reaches upwards.

“And it’s quite a creditless job. These are individuals that are so driven by their duty, their passion and survival to a great extent, but they are still heroes that we never know about.”

Whether it is “Toilet”, “Sonchiriya” or movies as recent as “Bheed”, Bhumi’s choices have veered towards issue-based cinema, something that she said helps the actor in her thrive.

“I’ve always had a lot of activism within myself because I feel very passionately about things. And art is my way of putting out what I believe in. I also feel that I thrive really well in cinema like this because I enjoy doing it so much. Everybody has a personality and things that they believe in. And this is what I like. So, it comes naturally to me,” she added.

“Bhakshak” also stars Sanjay Mishra, Aditya Srivastava and Sai Tamhankar. The movie is produced by Gauri Khan and Gaurav Verma.

 

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