Imtiaz Ali’s Netflix original, She, rests almost entirely on the petite shoulders of actor Aaditi Pohankar, who makes her Hindi-language debut with the series. And Pohankar does a stellar job in commanding the thriller, playing a constable who is made to go undercover as a prostitute to bring down a drug cartel. To play the central protagonist, Bhumi, requires a great deal of surrendering and Pohankar is up to it, assured as she essays a timid woman who gradually discards the cloak of invisibility and finds her potential by putting herself in peril.
Aaditi Pohankar as Bhumika Pardesi in a still from Netflix's She.
The performance is all the more impressive because until her late teens acting was not even in Pohankar’s radar. She was set to pursue running as a career, excelling in the 100m and 200m disciplines at the state level. But fate would have it another way. A trip to Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai and subsequently the time spent learning from veteran director and writer, Satyadev Dubey, and Makrand Deshpande, would be influential. “I never wanted to look back and just wanted to be an actor,” she said. Pohankar would soon catch the eye of director Nishikant Kamat who saw her in Deshpande’s play Time Boy and would cast her as the leading lady in Marathi film Lai Bhaari. It’d become one of the highest-earning Marathi films. She’d then wait for a part which would give her “good substance to perform”.
With She Pohankar found what she was looking for. Playing Bhumi wasn’t a cakewalk. She describes the experience as both “cathartic” and “exhausting”. The exchanges between Bhumi and the criminal Sasya (Vijay Verma) are laced with tension and humiliation, and yet there’s an undercurrent of attraction too. “She is unaware of her sexuality,” says Pohankar, “until she meets Sasya. The interest he has shown in her, she has never felt it before. She’s perplexed on what’s happening to her.” It’s the good girl meets bad boy dynamics that are at the centre of She.
She is likely to give Pohankar’s career a fillip and make the route to Bollywood a tad easier. Before that, you will see her in another web series, again as the central protagonist, helmed by another notable director in Prakash Jha.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)