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Exclusive! Bhumika Chawla: Took up Operation Romeo solely because it is Neeraj Pandey production

Bhumika was also a part of Neeraj's MS Dhoni: The Untold Story.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 01.38 PM, Apr 24, 2022

Exclusive! Bhumika Chawla: Took up Operation Romeo solely because it is Neeraj Pandey production
Operation Romeo - Bhumika Chawla.

Bhumika Chawla is back, this time with Sharad Kelkar in Operation Romeo, which has released in theatres alongside Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey. Operation Romeo is backed by Neeraj Pandey and talking to OTTplay, Bhumika revealed that it is the reason she took up the film. For the uninitiated, Bhumika and Neeraj had collaborated in 2016 for late Sushant Singh Rajput’s film MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Now, Bhumika talks to us about the movie, trend of South Indian films being accepted in Hindi and much more. Excerpts…

Bhumika, why don't you stay in Bollywood?

I don't know. I will get the right answer and get back.

With Operation Romeo, we see moral policing and how the couples could get harassed for trying to have a quiet time to themselves. This is a very real issue and literally every trespasser has a judgement upon seeing a couple, who, for any given reason, are not in a home or hotel. I'm sure many of us have faced this and you know this issue is not only limited to boyfriends and girlfriends. Even a married couple who is not wearing a chooda, sindoor, burkha, dupatta or something that "proves" they are married get picked on. So, it is quite a real issue, won't you agree?

Like you said, it is a real issue. It could be happening with married couples too, if they are not dressed to tell they are married. They are also check. This happens in India a lot because probably our culture from old times is followed. I think people need to realize that things have changed. People evolve and society changes with that. This is not how it should be. There was moral policing and we still see it but there should be an end to it. People should be given their space to not hide when they have to go somewhere. They should be able to relax, sit in a park and chat without having to prove that they aren't doing the wrong thing just because they are friends or boyfriend/girlfriend. They should be given that freedom.

Operation Romeo is inspired from a Malayalam film, Ishq, which was a hit when it released. But the movie released two years back and some people already know the story. We have seen so many films where women take charge, like Kangana leaving in Queen etc. Do you think this movie deserved a remake and what was your whole thought process behind choosing the film and going for the character? Please explain that to me.

I don't think there's a movie on moral policing so far. It is a new concept and something that the audiences can view. The audience who follows the Entertainment industry, they want to see something different.

Yes, we have seen movies like Queen but it is good to reinstate the fact that if you are not happy and pleased about a situation, it's okay to walk away. Whether the girl or boy leaves, it's okay to walk away and re-tell people that such a thing can be done.

I took the film up because Neeraj (Pandey) sir's banner. When you work with him, you know his team is so meticulous. He himself is such a calm, composed, happy, distinguishing and positive person. You will like to work with him nonetheless. The subject was also new for me so it was a good reason for me to take up the film and do something I haven't done before, as an actor.

You were a part of Neeraj's directorial MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and now this is his production. So, did this discussion happen during that time? How did you get on board? Was it through him? Please elaborate.

No, this discussion did not happen then. We were shooting for Dhoni in 2015 and 2016. This happened last year. I got a call from his office and we had discussions. He wasn't sure if I would do the film but I couldn't refuse it, coming from his production. You don't know the fate of the film so working with incredible people through the journey makes things so better.

Do you personally believe in remakes, especially from South Indian films, since you know, Shahid Kapoor's Jersey, which is also Nani's remake, also released at the same time as your film? Also, both the original and remake will be available on OTT. So, do remakes make sense?

Yeah, why not? Not everyone watches everything on OTT. It's not necessary that everyone has seen Ishq. It is okay to remake a film in a different language. This happens so many times. Hindi films also get remade in Tamil and Telugu. In Chennai, especially, people don't watch Hindi films so the content reaches a wider audience if it is remade in Tamil. If someone likes a concept and wants to translate it into another language, it is okay. It's good. Nobody saw South Indian films previously either.

What do you believe about the rising trend of South Indian films being accepted by Hindi audiences? We saw it recently with RRR, Pushpa, Baahubali and of course, KGF 2.

It's good. It's always nice to have one big industry together rather than having to demarcate as South Indian, Hindi, Bengali films. If you become one big industry that can prosper together, then why not?

While you have always switched between Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films among the many, didn't you ever get the thought to explore Hindi more after the love you received for Tere Naam? Because I'm sure if you stayed in Bollywood, you would have a more loyal fan following, not that I'm doubting it now but it would probably be in bigger numbers. So what happened there? I know you did a few Hindi films but not continuously.

I was supposed to do some films where I could not be a part of them and they became huge hits. It happened to me thrice. These films became humongous. It was almost like a slip between the cup and the lip (giggles). It is fate that you have to accept and carry on. It's a part of journey.

Again, you took three years to come back after Bhram. Why such huge gaps? Are you trying to establish a stronger base in South?

It's not like that. As an actor, you want to do good work. I have done an interesting Tamil film which should release in June-July. I don't know the response but have a good gut feeling. That is a film where I think I can surprise my audiences. I'm hoping to get something like that in Hindi too. It depends on the writers to visualize that an actor can do something different. I'm hoping to get some interesting offers after Operation Romeo.

You also spoke about the writers not being able to imagine someone beyond a certain point. These days, we hear people talk about stereotyping in the industry. The crew tends to stereotype actors or actresses into one role. Did that happen to you, probably after Tere Naam because that was such a huge hit that they would assume people want to see you in such a role only? Is that why you took a step back and said no to some roles and looked for other things?

Not really. The films that I had signed but couldn't be a part of, they were different. Since I wasn't a part of them, the gap became much larger and longer. Not just in Bollywood but any industry, the audience doesn't have to break the characters' image. That is the director and writers' job. If they only put you in a stereotyped box, no matter which industry, the audience isn't responsible for breaking it but can. The main responsibility, however, lies with the industry people, to break an actor's image. They have to have the visual ability to be able to take a risk. They do have that, which is why they are the creative people but they should be willing to take the risk.

We recently heard you sing, a popular Marathi song nonetheless, on The Kapil Sharma Show. So, can we expect to see you sing in your movies or remove your own albums soon too? That is also trending among actresses, right.

I don't mind. Why not? I would love to do something like that. My son wants me to start my own podcast. Let's see.