Bollywood star Bhumi Pednekar, celebrated for her films that advocate social change, has revealed ambitious goals for World Environment Day.
Pednekar founded non-profit advocacy platform Climate Warrior – funded from her acting remunerations – through which she strives to neutralizing her and her family’s carbon footprint and making her own home sustainable and the organization also has larger goals. Initiatives include supporting an NGO called Healing Himalayas that clears pollution from the mighty mountain range after every tourist season; Mumbai beach cleaning drives; working towards plastic free film shoots; working with upcycling and recycling organizations and waste segregation initiatives across India; leading anti open defecation campaigns; marching for climate justice; supporting transformative companies that make ink from pollution and various other projects.
“I have always felt I could do more because as an actor, I can use my voice to reach out to a large number of people,” Pednekar told Variety.
On June 5, World Environment Day, the actor is planting thousands of trees on the outskirts of Mumbai and has urged her fans to follow suit.
“Climate action needs sustained efforts on a daily basis from individuals, communities and authorities. We need to work as a team and as individuals who are climate warriors. We need an urgent plan of action to save the planet that we inhabit. We cannot believe that someone else will do the job for us. We are well beyond that phase and we have hit a crisis mode. The greatest threat to all life right now is the belief that everything is fine and that climate change is a myth. It is not. It is happening as we speak and the results are there for all of us to see,” Pednekar said. “Every day we live on earth, we impact it in some way. I have always felt responsible to do my bit towards the planet that nourishes us.”
The actor hopes to extend this zeal into her film projects as well. “I have been hunting for a film that focuses on the impact of climate change. I hope I come across something brilliant because films have the ability to spark a nationwide conversation and the awareness that it can lead to a subject is beyond imagination. Films and film stars can do a lot to drive home the need to act now,” Pednekar said.
Pednekar’s acting debut “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” (2015) addressed the issue of weight shaming; “Toilet: A Love Story” (2017) addressed open defecation; her character in “Bala” (2019) spoke out against skin color discrimination; and “Badhaai Do” (2022) sought to normalize LGBTQ+ relationships in India.
In 2019 Busan selection “Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars,” Pednekar played the titular Kitty, a small-town girl who finds freedom and its attendant pitfalls in the big city.
Pednekar continues her quest for varied roles. “I have always been keen to disrupt as an actor. From my first film, I have been trying to tell people that I will only pick unique and new projects that are clutter-breaking. If you see my choices as an actor, you will notice that I hate repeating myself. It doesn’t excite me at all. So, my next set of films will all present me in a way that audiences have never consumed me before as,” Pednekar said.
Coming up for the actor is crime drama “The Ladykiller,” directed by Ajay Bahl (“Blurr”), where she stars alongside Arjun Kapoor (“Kuttey”). “I play a role that challenged me to my bones. It is easily one of the toughest roles that I have done in my life and I couldn’t be more prouder of what I have been able to deliver on camera,” Pednekar said.
Pednekar teams with Kapoor again, alongside Rakul Preet Singh, in comedy “Mere Husband Ki Biwi,” directed by Mudassar Aziz (“Pati Patni Aur Woh”). “I know people are not expecting what they will see me play on screen,” Pednekar says about the role. “I try and choose roles that I can play with and give it a trajectory that makes people sit up and say ‘OK, that’s new.’ I can’t wait to get what people say when they see me in this film.”
Also in the works is another comedy “Thank You For Coming,” directed by Karan Boolani (Netflix’s “Selection Day”) and produced by Rhea Kapoor (“Veere Di Wedding”) for Anil Kapoor Film Company. “I’m proud to have got the opportunity to work with someone as visionary as Rhea Kapoor and the very talented director Karan Boolani and the iconic Anil Kapoor. It is again a film that will sit right at the top of my filmography. Experimentation is my middle name now and I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Pednekar said.
“I think I will have a super exciting 2024 too because I’m going bolder and riskier,” Pednekar added. “I’m super excited about the projects that I’m being approached with. There is so much exciting material that people are working on. I will only choose something that people haven’t ever watched on screen. I want that to be my calling card as an actor. I want that to be my legacy.”