After Netflix’s Dolly Kitty Aur Wo Chamakte Sitaare, the talented Bhumi Pednekar will next be seen in Amazon Prime Video film Durgamati. A remake of the Telugu movie Bhaagamathie, Durgamati is being touted as a conspiracy thriller.
In this exclusive interview with indianexpress.com, Bhumi talks about Durgamati and her experiences of doing a ‘genre-bending’ movie.
Excerpts from the conversation.
What drew you to the project?
You barely see any woman-led film with the kind of canvas that Durgamati gave me, where the opportunity for the performance is so macho and so full of heroism. It’s so out there. The scale is large, and it is full of drama. That’s something that excited me the most.
Is this going to be a shot by shot remake or more of an adaptation?
At the crux of it, the film is exactly what the original was because the director is also the same. I don’t know how much has he (G Ashok) adapted and how much has he kept it the same.
Have you seen the original? If yes, what did you think of it? Will you be measuring yourself against it?
I had seen the film, but once Durgamati came to me, I did not watch it again. I wanted my performance to be very personal. When I watched the original, I was amazed and in awe of what Anushka had done. Her performance really excited me to take the film on. The idea is never to compete with someone who has done the film before. This is my take. This is my individual journey, and it has to be such.
Would you call Durgamati a proper horror-thriller?
It is a conspiracy thriller, but the set-up is horror.
In the film, you evidently have to play two people. One is the wronged government officer, and the other is this supernatural being. What was that experience like?
My character is serving jail time for murder. There are a lot of things that happen to her. There are a lot of shades to Chanchal Chauhan, the IAS officer. But I obviously cannot give you much because it is at the end of the day, a thriller. I am really trying to measure my words here so that I don’t give anything away (laughs).
I am playing two women but how and what happens you will only get to know once you watch the film. I tried very hard to keep both these women separate. I tried not to let Chanchal seep into Durgamati and vice-versa. That’s why when I posted the trailer, I wrote a very heartfelt note because it has honestly been one of the toughest and demanding performances of my career.
Usually, you have been seen in roles with subtle tones. But this one seems a bit out there, definitely more dramatic than the rest of your work.
Oh absolutely. But that was the fun of it, right? As an actor, I don’t want to be limited to doing a particular kind of work. I want to do work that I believe in and work that is credible. And I found both these things in Durgamati. The narrative is different, and the scale is larger than life, sure. You usually see male characters do these parts. There is a lot of machoism and heroism attached to such parts. And that’s precisely the reason why I did it. So these qualities attached to both the genders now need to merge. Those lines need to be blurred. So Durgamati is definitely a genre-breaker.
How did you approach this part?
The prep for this film was very different. Usually, I have a dialect. I have a certain body language for the kind of characters I do. Here because I was playing an IAS officer, the upbringing was very similar to what I had gone through in my real life. So for me, the whole process was more about the thinking and mindset. She is serving jail time, and there is a chain of incidents that have happened to her that has completely changed her being.
Did you get a chance to share screen space with Arshad Warsi? What was that like?
Oh yes. It was lovely. I have always admired Arshad sir’s work. I will always remember him as Circuit (a character from the Munnabhai movies). It is by far one of my favourite Arshad Warsi performances. Nobody has seen him in the avatar that he’s in Durgamati. He is playing a self-righteous political leader who is being doubted. And he’s given a wonderful performance.
What’s next for you?
I am doing Badhaai Do. I am going to start shoot early next year with Rajkummar Rao.
Durgamati will premiere on December 11 on Amazon Prime Video.
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