You worked behind the scenes on several films before becoming an actor. Did you, at the time, think you’d be in front of the camera some day?
I did many odd jobs; I did everything from casting and writing to production. Being in front of the camera was a childhood dream. But I didn’t particularly work towards becoming an actor; I was only 17 when I started working. I was passionate about my job and dedicated to what I was doing. I always knew, however, that I would become an actor some day.
What attracted you towards acting?
I can’t point to a single thing, but I’ve grown up watching Hindi films. I was exposed to all genres of cinema. I watched Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s films, and films such as Baazaar, Shree 420, Mother India, while growing up. Then it was another world with Rangeela, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, that I was exposed to. I was always the kid who would entertain relatives with my dance performances and skits. I think I was born with it. I didn’t think there was anything else I would ever do.
Your first release was Dum Laga Ke Haisha in 2015. What about the script made you feel like this film had to be your debut?
Honestly, the fact that I was getting launched was enough for me to say yes. And, of course, it was a phenomenal script. I was nervous, because I was to play a character that had a different body type than mine, and I was asked to gain weight, but it was a golden opportunity since I don’t come from a film family. When I read the script, I could see that it wasn’t a regular film, but I figured that maybe that’s what I needed to do.
“I was always the kid who would entertain relatives with my dance performances, and skits.”
You’ve done films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, and Dum Laga Ke Haisha that carried a social message. Has it been a conscious decision to be a part of such films?
Not really. I think the films you choose have a lot to do with your personality and the kind of cinema you like watching. The films you mentioned have all been beautiful love stories with a message. In the times we’re living in, films need to have a much greater purpose.
But because of these films, you’re considered as someone who is breaking stereotypes. Your thoughts?
It’s a great compliment to my work. It’s good to be a part of cinema that has tried to bring about change. I may be breaking stereotypes, but the real heroes are the writers and filmmakers who have made me a part of their films. I think there’s been a shift in power where films are concerned; from actors, the power has come back to writers and directors, and that’s how it should be. That’s the only way our fraternity can flourish. I feel extremely honoured that these storytellers felt like I could do justice to their stories.
What, for you, is the best thing about your profession?
It’s that I get to do so many things. I get to live lives that are so different from my real one. I’m not like any of the girls that I have portrayed in my past films. They’re brought up in different circumstances from mine; I, for one, am a true-blue Mumbai girl. I developed several skills for my films and I’ve become a nicer person. I love the fact that with every role I play, there’s a metamorphosis of Bhumi that’s happening. I’m growing and I think it’s for the best.
Which co-star do you feel most comfortable working with?
I’m a happy, friendly person. I get along with all my co-stars. But working with Konkona (Sen Sharma) on Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare was a different kind of fun. It was my first time working with a female co-star and we had an amazing time.
“In the times we’re living in, films need to have a much greater purpose.”
How does criticism about your films or your performances affect you?
It affects me, but I like thinking of it as constructive criticism. That’s the best way to deal with it. You don’t always have to agree with what people say, but sometimes, you see your work and realise that maybe what some people have said makes sense. So you work on it and do better the next time.
How do you beat the stress that comes with the territory?
You know, for me, just being on set is a stress buster. I enjoy everything about my profession. I’m a true workaholic.
Tell us about the Bhumi not many people know about.
Well, I’m nothing like the characters I play. Obviously, there are some core values that resonate with me, but apart from that, I’m an everyday girl. I’m obsessed with makeup, I love dressing up, dancing, reading, and watching movies. I travel a lot. I’m very close to my friends and family.
“I love the fact that with every role I play, there’s a metamorphosis of Bhumi that’s happening.”
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
It has to be my mother and my sister. I’m blessed to have them in my life. Both of them are such strong personalities and have been amazing role models in their own ways. Where actors are concerned, there are a whole bunch of them who inspire me, like Priyanka Chopra, Waheedaji (Rahman), and Rekha ma’am.
Is there a beauty tip that you follow religiously?
I always remove my makeup before going to bed. I may have shot for 20 hours, but I make sure I come back and remove every last bit of makeup from my face. I try keeping my skin hydrated, and detoxifying my body as much as possible.
What do you like to do to unwind?
I just go meet my friends. I also travel quite a bit with them; we love exploring new places. I like watching movies with my girlfriends. I’m a complete couch potato when I’m at home; I love binge-watching television shows. Right now, I’m hooked on to the show The Marvellous Mrs Maisel.
Did you enjoy shooting for the Femina cover?
I had a blast. The styling was lovely; the team did a phenomenal job. The best part is that it’s the most different I have looked. I’ve been exploring my fashion game for the past two years, and I think this cover added a lot to it. The team had a vision, and I, despite being nervous at the start, went with the flow. And I’m extremely happy that I did. It’s strong, edgy, high-fashion, and glamorous.
Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
One is Sonchiriya, which will be out in February 2019. It’s a hard-hitting story. I’ve had to learn and do many new things for it—I learnt how to milk a cow, walked barefoot for seven kilometres, fetched water from a well, and also changed my workout routine. Then, of course, there’s Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. The director, Alankrita Shrivastava, has a very unique voice—she’s quirky and she empowers women. I’m also doing a film with Ayushmann (Khurrana) called Bala. It’s an exciting year for me.