Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, Bhumi Pednekar has been stepping up to help the Covid-hit people by donating her tremendous resources. From arranging plasma donors and oxygen cylinders to helping find life-saving drugs and hospital beds, Bhumi has been trying her level best to assist India in its fight against the second wave. “I do like taking a certain amount of social responsibility on myself,” Bhumi said on TNIE’s COVID Think Tank session.
“I have always been that person and it reflects in the work that I do. I don’t see this as a burden. I see it as something that will always co-exist in my life. I don’t know how things will be once I start shooting, but I just hope with all the volunteers that we have, we will manage. I’m always available and happy to help because I know that tomorrow if I need it there will be so many who would like to give me the same kind of support. So, it gives me a lot of strength,” the actor added.
Bhumi had herself tested positive for the coronavirus in April. She was shooting for Shashank Khaitan directorial Mr Lele when she was diagnosed with the deadly virus. Her co-star Vicky Kaushal had also tested positive for Covid-19. But it was her mother’s Covid diagnosis that compelled the actress to lend a helping hand in the fight against the insidious second wave.
“It wasn’t pleasant. My mother had to be hospitalised for a few days,” the actress recalled. “That’s when I realised that it wasn’t very easy. As a family member, you do not have access to the patient. You are unaware of what needs to be done. I had no idea how to arrange medicines and plasma. So, I put out a message on a few WhatsApp groups because that was the advice that I got from the hospital.”
In a couple of hours, Bhumi was flooded with donors and that was when she realised that she could use her social media reach to help people for “actual positive change.”
“A couple of days later, the second wave really hit us badly and it started off with Maharashtra. I tried contacting blood banks that I was in touch with but I could not find resources that I could connect with to help people. Then I shared a couple of requests, which I’d got in my DMs, on my Instagram and there was no looking back. In some time, I got a revert from the person that I tried helping, saying, ‘Thank you so much! We have found the donor.’ Here we are two months later and there’s a community that we have formed that has over 350 volunteers working across the globe. We do everything from arranging ICU beds, ventilators, plasma and even milk for newborn children,” she said.
When asked whether this experience has changed her as an artiste, Bhumi, who is known for doing socially impactful films like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Bala, Saand Ki Aankh, and Sonchiriya, said, “I don’t know yet. Because I have not really had a chance to step back and evaluate the whole situation. I’m sure it’s had an effect on me. Maybe I’ll have some PTSD. I hope not! Fortunately, I have a very strong support system at home. Because I’m not in this alone. There are so many like me who are trying to help. I draw a lot of strength from it. I do feel that I have definitely become a lot more compassionate and empathetic as a person and I have no respect for people who don’t show this compassion and I have no shame in saying that.”
“I understand that you don’t have to give in all your time and effort into this but I do feel that there has to be some part of you that wants to help in some way or the other because I don’t think any of us has ever been in such high level of human tragedy. So, I have reached a point where I do judge people who have not shown any kind of help. But as an artiste, I’m somebody who does use her personal experience and channelise a lot of what I feel in my work and my performance. I might sound like a greedy artiste but I’m sure I will channelise these experiences somewhere,” the actress concluded.