Bhumi Pednekar’s connection with Goa runs deeper than her scenic Instagram posts. The Afwaah actor’s paternal side of the family belongs to Pedne (or Pernem) in North Goa, so she makes annual trips to the Mauli temple set is in the compound of her ancestral home there. “My grandfather shifted to Bombay when he was just a child but we visit Pedne for Ganpati festival and other occasions. Goa has been an integral part of my growing up years,” says the 33-year-old actor.
Now, there is another reason for her to visit: newly launched Kaia, the Ashwem beach-facing boutique stay and all-day bar that she has invested in. Seated inside the restaurant Bhumi exudes a sense of contentment. “I am in Goa at least four times a year but my trips have completely changed in the last few years. From partying on the streets of Bagha to having this place here in Ashwem, I really feel like life has come a full circle,” she says.
She has known her partners in this venture — Nikita Harisinghani, Dhaval Udeshi and Pawan Shahri of Chrome Asia Hospitality (that also owns Eve, Shy, Demy and Donna Deli in Mumbai) — for many years and it felt like a natural progression for her to be a part of a space which is rooted in the concept of slow living.
“When Dhaval told me that they were keen on making their first hotel venture as sustainable as possible, I was all in; diversifying into this sector didn’t feel odd at all. The F&B and hospitality space is something which would have anyway happened at some point for me and this felt like the perfect opportunity,” she says. Discussing her fascination with this sector, she explains, “I am somebody who travels for culinary experiences. Half of it is because of the foodie that I am and the other half because experiences enrich me. I make sure that I am constantly travelling to unwind, re-educate, gain knowledge and grow as a person.”
It comes as no surprise then that the actor — apart from many other smaller details — was involved in the designing of the food menu as well. “The idea was to have a healthy and diverse menu with lots of breakfast options. It had to resonate with what Kaia stands for and so, it had to be mindful eating options made with responsibly-sourced produce,” she says.
The actor, who is a vegetarian, swears by the mushroom masala and poee, the pesarratu dosa, pancakes and lemon rice with avial created by Chef Mohit Savargaonkar. At a lunch she hosted for her friends the night before, she says the Kerala kozhi chicken curry and the harmal chilli prawns emerged as clear winners from the non-vegetarian options.
Bhumi’s involvement in the partnership revolves around the vibe and the ethos the team is trying to create at the boutique stay, which comprises a 10-room boutique hotel, a four-bedroom villa and an all-day dining bar and restaurant. “From the aesthetics to the books, the massage room which I really insisted on and the orthopedic mattresses on the beds — there is a lot of thought that has gone behind this venture,” she states, adding that this investment is much more than a business endeavour for her and she sees it as an opportunity to contribute towards a greener and more responsible future.
The actor is certainly making mindful choices, whether it is her work on-screen or off-screen. She became MAC Cosmetics India’s first brand ambassador in 2021 and now, she has a limited-edition lipstick with her name and signature on it. The entire proceeds from the sale of the lipstick will go towards organisations that support women and girls’ rights, HIV/AIDS relief efforts and the LGBTQIA+ community. “I strongly feel that whatever I associate myself with has to resonate with my belief system. As an investor and an entrepreneur, the things I support are green businesses,” she says.
The self-confessed beauty and make-up lover believes that her associations need to have some sense of giving back to society, which is the reason her MAC collaboration is so important to her. “Even with my other practices in life — whether it is my non-profit advocacy platform Climate Warrior or my future investments and equity deals that will be out now in the next two to three months, they all fall in the bracket of disruptive tech,” she says, choosing her words carefully so they don’t give too much away.
When it comes to her on-screen work, Bhumi – who rose to prominence with her debut as an overweight bride in Dum Laga Ke Haisha in 2015 – has emerged as a thinking person’s actor with her performances in films such as Sonchiriya, Saand Ki Aankh, Bheed and Afwaah.
She acknowledges that her understanding of cinema has evolved over the years, adding that she does not cringe as much now when she watches herself on screen. “I recently finished a film called Bhakshak by Red Chillies Entertainment and I could see the growth in myself as an actor when I watched it recently,” she says, adding that she knows she has done something right when she does not see Bhumi onscreen but the character. “For instance, in Sonchiriya and Saand ki Aankh, these women were so far away from me. In Bhakshak, I could see a certain maturity.”
Stating that she watches her own performances with a critical lens and is hard on herself. The actor, who also has movies such as Mere Husband Ki Biwi and The Lady Killer in the pipeline, shares that she would also love to experiment with the longer format on a digital platform.
At the end of it all, Bhumi says she wants to leave behind a legacy, be it through her films or her investments. She signs off saying, “I feel like this is the time for me to work and I am just at it.”