Bhumi Pednekar's upcoming film, Bhakshak, sees her play Vaishali, a gutsy independent journalist who unearths a crime in a shelter home for orphan girls. Directed by Pulkit and bankrolled by Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, the film premieres on Netflix on February 9. The film also features Sanjay Mishra, Sai Tamhankar, and Aditya Srivastava in pivotal roles.
Pednekar is known for consistently choosing films that challenge the status quo or spotlight social issues. She quite seamlessly delivers hits with films focusing core on grassroots. However, the actor also balances with mainstream hits like Govinda Mera Naam, and Thank You For Coming.
Bhakshak comes at the heels of yet another hard-hitting political drama Afwaah, with a strong message, says Bhumi Pednekar in an interview with SheThePeople.
"I saw an opportunity to deliver a performance that could be different from what I have done in the past, I have never done an investigative-journalistic narrative like Bhakshak ever. Also, this film is a fictional story that we kind of pieced together through many real incidents. And it breaks my heart to know that as an actor if I can’t lend my voice to something very relevant to what’s happening today then what’s the point? For cinema of any other kind, I will get an opportunity to do time and again, but this was special; I kind of recognise that and I hope that translates with the audience as well," the actor adds.
While Bhakshak is a fight against evil, it is also a silent protest against the aeons of patriarchy. In a struggle to unravel the truth of shelter home abuse, Vaishali is up against politicians, corporate leaders, cops and even her own family. She is a small-town married woman with a passion for truth, who manages her job with a small camera, a cameraman (played by Sanjay Mishra), and a van. However, whilst struggling to uncover the truth, she also fights patriarchy through hushed small pockets of courage.
While the film shows two extreme kinds of men, at one end, is Aditya Srivastava's character Bansi, owner of the shelter home; at the other is Vaishali's husband Aarvind who silently stands by her as she investigates the crime.
'Depicting positive masculinity in films'
Pednekar proclaims Arvind as a green flag, she notes while he is concerned about her, he never asks her to stop partaking in this investigation. She says, "I think showing positive masculinity in the film is also very important, especially in films like Bhakshak where the antagonist can be a person in the lowest of low categories. So, when you have such extremes, you need to have Aarvind, Sanjay Mishra, to reflect that the patriarchy is changing. Arvind may not be someone who stands up for me in front of his family but his actions speak louder than words. He is 6-feet tall guy, who sits on a pink scooty that says patrakar because he’s given Vaishali the van. Hence, he is a green flag for me."
'Cinema comes with a lot of responsibility'
At a time, when movies are dissected and analysed to no ends, Pednekar believes cinema comes with a lot of responsibility needs courage to be heard. She strongly believes empathy and compassion go long way and it imperative to reach the right audience.
"I have such a strong platform, I have agency, and an opportunity to reach out to many many people through my cinema. That is why I also enjoy doing the kind of cinema that leaves behind an impact, and positive change. I realized this very early on in my career that if I don’t use my art to start a conversation then it's quite a waste. In my legacy, I want my films to be a part of the solution and not the problem," the actor adds.