“I want Ayushmann Khurrana to play my ‘woh’ someday,” says Bhumi Pednekar

The Pati Patni Aur Woh [2019] wishes for the tables to turn in a probable sequel where some filmmaker braves to show infidelity by a married woman

By Mayur Lookhar

Source: Bhumi Pednekar facebook

She left you so mesmerised in Dum Laga Ke Haisha [2015] that the fans were craving why it took a long break between her first and the second film.  Bhumi Pednekar had to shed weight, which she had gained for her first film Dum Laga Ke Haisha [2015]. Since 2017, the woman has charmed us with an array of films.  The last two years have been particularly busy with Pednekar working on 5-6 films.

2019 has seen Pednekar impress in the critically acclaimed Sonchiriya and Saand Ki Aankh, where the 30-year-old played the role of a 60 plus markswoman. Commercial success was reaped through Bala where Pednekar essayed the role of a dusky woman.  And now, Pednekar winds up 2019 with Pati Patni Aur Woh that is inspired by B.R. Chopra’s 1978 quirky love triangle of the same title.

She’s always looked beautiful, but there is a certain sexiness to her character in Pati Patni Aur Woh one that perhaps isn’t seen before.  Kartik Aaryan, who plays her pati (husband], says passionately, “Aha, kya ada hain! kya ada hain! [Aha what charm!]

One gaze at Vedika Tyagi [Pednekar] and you are left wondering, if the patni (wife) is so gorgeous then what was the need for the pati to look for a woh? [another woman]

“Yeah, and still he [Chintu Tyagi] has an extra marital affair,” Pednekar moans.

This group conversation was more than just about any Pati Patni Aur Woh. Pednekar pointed that the ‘woh’ here is not a human per se, but it’s just the situation that sees the characters behave the way they do.  She admits that in the past, film industry has passed on infidelity by men as humour, but there’s hardly been a story when the wife seeks love out of marriage.  (The Tabu-starrer Astitva springs to mind). For Pednekar, it’s her characters that determines her choices.  Characters that ought to be so strong, inspiring that it would makes her say, ‘I want to die on a film set”.  That’s passion for you.

Excerpts.

How different is this character from the one that you have played before?

It’s a lot different from the kind of work I have done before.  Vedika is a confident ambitious girl.  She always looks to better her life.  She aspires to stay in a big city.   For the first time, I am playing a character who is not bogged down by any societal pressure.   She knows the effect that a woman has on the opposite sex. It was refreshing to play such a character.  What I liked about her is that she never cribs over anything.  She knows, she can bring a crowd to stand still at a traffic signal.   That’s the kind of confidence she has in herself.  I hadn’t done something like this in my trajectory of work before.  I wanted to do a mass entertainer. It plays to the gallery but it is not senseless.

Was there any apprehension to do a remake?

I am not scared of remakes.  I don’t have reference point. I liked the script. I wanted to work with Kartik Aaryan. I find Ananya [Panday] very sweet.  Producer Juno Chopra was in talks with me for a while. I wasn’t sure then.  The casting excited me. The only fear I had was that I don’t want to be playing the stereotypical wife. I didn’t get that feeling in my discussion with the director, producer.

When it comes to extra marital affairs n Indian films, especially Hindi films, an infidel act by the husband is generally treated with comedy.  But there aren’t too many films that show the wife having an affair, and they are not passed off as comedy.

I really hope the sequel to this is where the wife has a ‘woh’ [another man]. I kind of agree with you.

Isn’t it a reflection of the society that passes of infidelity by a man as a joke?

Absolutely.  We have come a long way from where we were 10 years ago. I feel very proud that my films have been part of that progression. I hope Pati Patni Aur Woh adds to it. This isn’t a film about just infidelity. This is a film where you have three very strong characters. When three people are stuck in this situation what really happens to them. It is human drama.  We’ve handled the subject with great sensitivity.  When I say the ‘patni’ here is not a stereotypical wife, similarly the ‘woh’ [another woman] is not a stereotypical woh.  This is not that film. The difference between 10 years ago, and now is that earlier everything was in black in white.  Human beings are never black and white. A woh doesn’t necessarily has to be a human being. It can be a situation, a phase of life.  That is what we have shown in the film.

But do you think is the film industry ready to accept tales of an extra marital affair of a married woman?

I don’t know if they [industry] are ready to accept.  But the day there is a good script, people will definitely accept it.  Were they ready to accept a film about erectile dysfunction – Shubh Mangal Saavdhan [2017]?  That was treated like a family film.  Could we ever imagine there would ever be a film made on your mother getting pregnant at an age where the son is ready to get married? [Ayushmann Khurrana’s Badhaai Ho (2018)]. There are lot of taboos which we are now touching.

The trailer was largely appreciated but one dialogue [over marital rape] came under fire.  Were you aware of the dialogue in the script?

Honestly, I don’t know what is the right way of putting it. This was a lack of judgment. This film is empowering to both genders. The idea was never to hurt anybody’s sentiments. Nobody attached to the film belongs to the school of thought where we will be part of anything sexist.  It was a lapse in judgment. That’s why we ‘ve apologised and rectified it. When you make a film, it comes with great responsibility. I applaud the film’s makers here. They could have stuck to their guns and deemed the criticism as work of few Twitterati. The masses love it, but they didn’t do that. They realised that this [dialogue] deviates from the message which our film is trying to send. Sometimes, you do put a lot of stuff for humour and you can’t intellectualize cinema every time.  But you have to draw a boundary. If there is anything that crosses it, then you should have the guts to rectify it.

Some time there is a great script where actresses are portrayed in a way which they themselves wouldn’t like it. Deepika Padukone had said she is not a home breaker but she couldn’t give up on a Bajirao Mastani [2015]. Would you do something similar?

For me to like a script, I need to like a character. Where Mastani is concerned that is a different era. Back then it [bigamy] was normal.  For me, my character is a part of my script. If I don’t like my character, then how will I like a script. Then it becomes a project.  I am not a project kind of person. I have been offered so many films since my first movie but I felt they were not the right thing for me to do because the kind of space, niche I want to create, it is not just about having hits or that many 100 crore films in your pocket. That’s not how I see longevity.  I want a long career. I want to die on a film set. That can only happen, when I create an audience who has a trust in me, who respect me as a performer.  For women, it is anyway difficult.  There is constant thing of shelf life. I don’t want that.  That is why I pick characters. A character never dies.

Not too long ago, you had spoken about feeling low when Sonchiriya [2019] failed and to now being confident…

[breaks in]

I have always been confident. Sonchiriya is an ex-boyfriend that I will never get over with. I am saddened [by the film’s failure]. I understand why it didn’t work but you move on. I have been fortunate that I have had films that I can move on with.  In its own way, Sonchiriya has given me a lot. It gave me a good director, an audience who didn’t expect a mature performance out of me.  The film that I had done before, people loved my work, but those characters were still like ‘girls’, rom coms. This year has been a little serious.

On a lighter note, if the makers of the film go ahead and have a sequel. Then who would you like to have an extra-marital affair with?

I think Kartik should be my ‘pati’ for sure. My ‘woh’ would be [pauses] Ayushmann [Khurrana].  I want to see Ayushmann be a ‘woh’.  He has always been my pati, but he should now be my ‘woh’.

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