ELLE Digital Cover Star: Bhumi Pednekar – A Force For Good

The marquee lights flicker on, and Bhumi Pednekar’s celebrity persona switches into place with an inaudible click. Her caramel-hued tresses have been finger-combed to affect a just-hopped-out-of-the-shower charm. Her eyelids have been fleetingly kissed by the dainty hues of blush pink. To the world, she appears at ease as she arches her petite frame this way and that to catch the light. But as she crosses her arms, the curtain slips for a minute to reveal an aching halo of vulnerability lining the depths of her pupils.

On Bhumi Pednekar: Scarlet inferno gown by Vaishali S Couture. Vintage Valentino chunky rose earrings by Viange.

These are eyes that have stared vacantly at the ceiling on sleepless nights to comprehend the towering monolith of climate change and the seemingly minuscule role she might play in paving the path towards a more sustainable future. The same fingers playing with a sequinned bustier have been scrolling breathlessly for years in search of more equitable solutions. When the corners of her lips tilt upwards into a generous smile, it is the same warmth with which she enthuses over her newest eco-friendly finds—compostable bowls that are also microwave-safe, if you’ll believe it.

On Bhumi Pednekar: Scarlet inferno gown by Vaishali S Couture. Vintage Valentino chunky rose earrings by Viange.

Attempting to reverse the ongoing environmental crisis is not an overnight job. It’s just as well because the actor and sustainability advocate has settled in for the long haul. After all, nothing about the 34-year-old’s meteoric ascent to stardom can be deemed easy. As an assistant casting director at the age of 18, she was the proverbial outsider looking in at an industry that is known to favour their own. But between the hordes of glamazon starlets shimmying to the box office every Friday, Pednekar managed to eke out a trailblazing career on the back of an assertive performance in Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015). She has since ascended from strength to strength, amassing a string of accolades along the way for Shubh Mangal Savdhaan (2017), Lust Stories (2018) and Saand ki Aankh (2019). But today, her nine million followers on Instagram know her as much for her nuanced portrayals of womanhood as her ruminations on the impending environmental crisis.

On Bhumi Pednekar: Zinnia embroidered blouse and draped skirt co-ord by Rigu. Vintage Valentino chunky rose earrings by Viange.

“I was very young when I first learned about climate change, and it used to cause me a lot of anxiety,” she recalls. In her adolescence, she spent many nights tossing and turning over the implications of climate change for the future of mankind— ‘What would happen if the water dries out?’—while her days would be spent with a collector’s tin on the streets to garner charitable aid whenever a natural calamity struck.

On Bhumi Pednekar: The GatherGraine dress by Graine. Cassis shell earrings luxuriously plated in 18 karat gold by Viange.

Her own journey towards exploring actionable solutions has been a long-winding road, but Pednekar wants you to know that advocating for environmental responsibility isn’t all gloom and doom. “The last piece of good news that made me smile is reading that the Supreme Court has recognised the right against climate change as a fundamental right. Change can only ever happen within large corporations and at a policy level—this is the right step in that direction,” she affirms.

On Bhumi Pednekar: Ripple stretch dress by Sonam Khetan. Vintage carved pink stone statement earrings by Viange.

Beyond fronting makeup campaigns, Pednekar is also known to support homegrown names attempting to find tangible alternatives to single-use plastics. And the memo extends across her lifestyle choices. If you were to bump into her on a long-haul flight, you would find the Bhakshak (2024) star shelling out change to purchase a drinking glass to avoid single-use bottles. On the red carpet, she is known to niftily recycle certain investment basics. Her eyes light up when I probe her for details. “I have a black halterneck gown from Alexandre Vauthier that was one of my first couture purchases, and I have endless fun restyling it in different ways. I have worn it over a shirt, layered it under a blazer, and sometimes even worn it as it is. It just feels new every single time.”

On Bhumi Pednekar: Marissa Dress by Meko. Vintage Moschino upside down heart earrings by Viange.

For those who’d like to join her on his journey, Pednekar suggests that having the right intention is a win in itself. “It helps to find like-minded people who are working for any cause you believe in and to join hands with them. It is not about how many people you impact—even if you can make a change in yourself, it is enough because change, indeed, begins at an individual level,” she signs off.

ELLE India Editor: Ainee Nizami Ahmedi, Photographer: Hunar Daga, Fashion Editor: Zoha Castelino, Asst. Art Director: Sanjana Suvarna, Fashion Assistant: Komal Shetty (styling), Words: Hasina Jeelani, Hair: Sonam Solanki, Makeup: Eshwar Log, Bookings Editor: Alizaa Fatmaa, Assisted by:  Nirali patel (styling), Jasleen Narang (bookings), Production: Imran Khatri Productions, Artist’s Reputation Management: Yash Raj Films.

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