Bhumika Chawla on U-Turn: Look for valuable roles even though I don't get to play the lead anymore
Bhumika Chawla returns on screen in this week’s Tamil-Telugu bilingual thriller, U-Turn, starring Samantha Akkineni in the lead role
Actress Bhumika Chawla, who ruled the roost for over a decade across southern filmdom in leading roles, is now happy doing select character roles. Last seen playing Nani’s sister-in-law in 2017's Telugu blockbuster MCA, she returns on screen in this week’s Tamil-Telugu bilingual thriller, U-Turn, starring Samantha Akkineni in the lead role. In an interaction with Firstpost, she talks about working with Samantha, choosing her character arc over screen time and why stronger roles are the need of the hour for actresses in their 40s.
Post MCA, Bhumika worked in two more films – Naga Chaitanya’s Savyasachi and Tamannaah Bhatia’s Khamoshi – both due for release. Despite being offered roles at regular intervals, she’s been choosy. “My quest has always been to do different roles,” she explains. “Even though I don’t get to play the heroine anymore, I still look for roles that add some value to the story. I didn’t have any qualms playing the sister-in-law in MCA because the entire story revolved around my character. Take out my character and there’s no film. U-Turn is another project that’s offered me an interesting role. As actors, it’s important that each role we play is at least five percent different than our previous one. For instance, my role in Khamoshi is something that’ll surprise audiences. You wouldn’t have seen me in such a character before.”
In U-Turn, slated for release on 13 September, Bhumika has played the character as per her understanding, despite being a remake. “I watched the original to get the hang of the character. Director Pawan and I discussed and made slight changes to the role which I played to my understanding,” she said, adding that it’s going to be a very important film in her career.
If the original character is anything to go by, it’s safe to assume that Bhumika will be seen in an important but brief role. She has played a cameo in Savyasachi. She says the length of her character doesn’t matter to her anymore. “What really matters is if my character can leave an impact. Take Divya Dutta’s character in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. She appears in just two or three scenes but people still talk about her. That’s the kind of impact I’m talking about. It really doesn’t matter anymore whether you appear through the entire film or not.”
Bhumika has seen Telugu and Tamil industries go through a transition phase over last 15 years. While she’s happy that more heroine-centric films are being made, she bats for better and stronger roles for actresses in their 40s. “I’m glad films are being made with Samantha in the lead. But we also need more films like Tumhari Sulu where Vidya Balan, who is nearly 40 and not in great shape, played the lead and won the audiences over. We need more producers willing to take risks by betting projects on actresses in their 40s. This kind of transition will take time and I can totally understand why, but the change has to happen.”
Talking about the experience of working with Samantha, she said: “She’s an intense performer. I have only seen two of her films – Eega and Rangasthalam – but from what I saw of her work on sets, she’s very expressive. U-Turn will be a very important film in her career too. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her.”
Bhumika is in talks for two new Tamil projects and one Telugu film. “I will only sign only if it’s really worth it. I have a four-year-old son and if I’m signing a film, it needs to be really good so that taking that effort and being away from him is worth it.”
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