Bollywood star Bhumi Pednekar is definitely the most woke celebrity in Bollywood today. She successfully runs her social media advocacy platform Climate Warrior that aims to educate people about climate change and during the second wave of COVID-19 crisis in India, she also launched an initiative COVID Warrior that has saved many lives across India. Bhumi is an ardent climate advocate who has made it her life's mission to save the planet through awareness missions amongst the people of India.
Q. You take the threat of climate change very seriously. How has your upbringing shaped the advocate that you have become for our planet?
A. I feel that every part of me even the person I am today is a complete sum of all my life experiences, and most of them come from what I have seen at home. I remember when we were children and I was in school and our country was hit by a natural calamity our parents would send us for drives to collect donations so that we could give back to the people affected. So, I have seen this from a very young age. I have seen my father always go out and help his community and I have seen my mother show extreme compassion towards people around her. So, I think this is something that came naturally to me from them and I feel that's so important. I feel that everything we see in our childhood is what we practice in our adult life and I am thankful to my parents for opening up this world to me.
Q. Influential artists like you have the power to bring about positive changes. Is that why you are so vocal about this glaring issue?
A. Absolutely. I feel like especially when you are in a place of power and when you are in a place of influence, it is your duty to give back. It is not fair to be selfish and keep all that you have gained. Especially for me, I feel like artists and as actors, the place where I am today is because of so many people that have supported my art and that have loved my work and there is no way that I can ignore them. I feel that it is my responsibility to give back and I try doing that through various ways in my personal life and also through the films that I do because I feel like my work and my art needs to reflect what I believe in. That does not mean specifically me or the characters I portrat but at the end of it, the narrative of the story needs to bring about a certain amount of positive change in the way my audience looks at things.
Q. It is not always easy to speak your mind in a divided world such as this. What makes you want to lead from the front on important social issues such as climate change?
A. I think climate change is something that is very personal to me. I have always been somebody who had questions. When I was 8 or 9 years old I would think what would happen if our water level rises or what would happen if one day our planet becomes too hot? Because in school you are taught these things and these are the things that stayed back with me. While growing up we were told to not waste electricity and there were times we were called back because maybe the geyser was on. My house was not a house where overconsumption happened, my parents made sure we didn't waste food and we don't use a lot of plastic. So, there was always a responsible consumption habit that was inculcated in us. I think that is why I have always been aware of the fact that we have this phenomenon that is climate change that has been happening for many years but since the last few generations because of our bad habits it has been accelerated to levels where the balance of biodiversity which was maintained by nature is now completely lob sided and that is something that really bothered me and that's why even though Climate Warrior came into existence 2 years ago I still have always been working towards the cause, I have still been advocating for it.
Q. We are in a climate crisis today. What do you have to say about this?
A. I feel that today we are actually at the tip and if we don't start bringing about huge levels of change then things are about to get very bad and the last year has been a good learning. In the last two years, we have seen forest fires, we have seen cyclones. Cyclones in areas that had never seen one before this, we have seen drought, we have seen floods and now we have seen this pandemic and this is only the beginning. I feel that it is important for people to understand that, and it really pains me to see how irresponsibly people treat medical trash for example and I'd really hoped that in the last one year people would have understood that you cannot mess with nature because if you do then she is going to give it back to you and it really doesn't matter then if you are rich or poor cause money cannot buy you out of those bad effects of climate change but unfortunately I still see people littering, using plastic irresponsibly or just things like there are going to be more masks and medical waste in our oceans than marine life. These things hurt me and bother me because honestly, this is not just for our generation as much as it is also for the future generations to come.
I really believe that is our responsibility to leave behind a cleaner planet for our future generations as we got it from our ancestors. I would never want my children to be brought up in a world that is full of pollution and does not have clean and healthy sources of water and food you know everything is so scarce it's just not okay. I want my children to be brought up in the kind of world where I grew up, where everything was abundant. I don't want to go into a forest and see fauna it is not a luxury, that was not how it has to be. The way deforestation is happening, the way we are fishing and hunting I feel as humans we should just change our consumption habits.
Q. You are the most woke celebrity in Bollywood. What does being woke mean to you personally?
A. I think being woke is about putting your opinion and standing by it for the betterment of the society. I feel its a double-edged sword because at times being woke can also have a lot of backlash. More often than not I feel like you need to have a certain amount of confidence to step out and put the thoughts you believe in out there but it needs to come from a place of responsibility and from a place of knowledge. I think that's very important especially when you are a person who is in a place of influence and there are many that follow you, your voice is your biggest tool and you can't use it loosely. As we say that with great power comes great responsibility, and especially for influencers this statement is like the truest.
Q: What are your goals as a climate warrior this year? What will make you happy as a climate warrior 10 years from now?
A. My goal as a climate warrior this year is genuinely to see people take action on planet conscious behaviour. I think for me all of 2021 is only going to be about hammering better habits, about hammering and making sure that people actually do something about everything that we have been speaking about right from less consumption of single use plastics to making sure that individually we all reduce our carbon footprint. I really hope that our world opens up to a certain extent so that we can do a certain amount of groundwork as well. But what will honestly make me happy is that 10 years from today everything that we and the entire community have been fighting for, to at least see some amount of change. We do see that there is a lot more replantation than deforestation. I really hope that the amount of compassion that we show to different species is a lot more and 10 years from today I want to look back and be like "Oh Wow! We are happily coexisting with all those millions of species that rightfully share this planet with us." I really hope there's a beautiful balance between development and conserving our nature. I really hope that we live in a world that doesn't abuse all the natural resources that our beautiful planet gives us. We live in a world that gives us so much and individually everybody has enough compassion and care to understand that the four walls we live in the isn't our real home, this planet is our real home and there's no planet B and we have to conserve it for it to be beautiful and abundant again.