Bollywood actor Divya Dutta says she's living her dreams
No one remembers Ravi Saagar — a one-movie-wonder who debuted in Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna way back in 1994. But everyone knows Divya Dutta, the teenager with an infectious smile, who also debuted in that otherwise dud of a movie. The spunky actor refused to be lost in the mire of multicast movies of the ’90s and carved a prominent niche for herself in a career spanning over two decades.
Seen in films including Suraksha, Veergati, Agnisakhshi, LOC: Kargil, VeerZara and Murder, the actor stood out as the ill-fated Vindhya in Shyam Benegal’s Welcome To Sajjanpur (2008) and as Jalebi in Delhi 6 (2009). Since then, she carefully charted her career with an impactful presence in films like Lootera, Stanley Ka Dabba, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Badlapur, till Irada (2016) got her the National Award for the Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role. This year she will be seen in some interesting projects including Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Amjad Khan’s Gul Makai on the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and Sheer Korma. She will also be seen in two major web series, marking her debut in digital streaming platforms. We caught up with this vivacious artiste for a chat on films, fashion and more. Excerpts:
It has been a long and uphill battle for you. Take us through your journey?
It’s been long but I never saw it as a struggle. There are ups and downs in life and each experience is a learning process that contributes to a person’s growth. I had always been passion-driven and wanted to act in different roles but when I debuted, a lot of multicast movies were being made where I had nothing much to do as an actor except parroting a few lines and singing and dancing. Not that I don’t love playing a mainstream heroine, but I never wanted to get lost in the crowd. I am lucky to find a niche in significantly meaty roles keeping me in mind.
Do you believe in method acting or are you a spontaneous actor?
I had tried method acting in the past but it’s just not my cup of tea, I realised (laughs). I love to get to know the character and that only happens when I start reading the script.
How did you prepare for the role of Malala’s mom in Gul Makai?
The movie is extensively shot in Kashmir and parts of Gujarat. It’s a very different character, where I had to speak in an Urdu dialect since the family is Pakistani. I have even sung in Pushtu. Many scenes were shot at one go with eight cameras. Recently, we had a special screening in London for the United Nations and Malala’s father was there and gifted me a shawl on behalf of his wife. This is the most wonderful part of being an actor — being appreciated and loved for your work in this manner.
You are also a part of Anubhav Sinha’s next, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai and Sheer Korma?
I play the head of a news channel here. Anubhav’s last release Article 15 was riveting and this is also going to be a comical satire on coalition politics. There are so many talented actors in it, including Pankaj Tripathi, Saurabh Shukla, Vinay Pathak and others, and I am excited to be a part of it. In Faraz Arif Ansari’s Sheer Korma, I am in a same-sex relationship with Swara Bhaskar. It’s the first such role for me.
Why didn’t you ever explore theatre?
I once did a play opposite Om Puri, called Teri Amrita, in Punjabi, but after his untimely demise, it didn’t continue and I too, got very busy with other projects. Theatre demands a lot of dedication and right now it’s not possible for me to commit so much time.
What about the web?
You’ll finally see me in brilliant roles in two major web series by two of my favourite directors. Recently, I also did a 17-minute short, Plus Minus, which has garnered more than 18 million views on YouTube till now.
And what about directing films?
I discovered my passion for writing two years back with my first published book on my mom, Me and Ma and I am enjoying every bit of it. I am writing two more, a short story compilation and an autobiographical based on some other phases of my life.
Are you seeing someone?
I am open to dating but currently, I am not into a committed or serious relationship with anyone.
Fashion and fitness mantra:
Fashion is being comfortable in what you wear. I am a total cotton and khadi person and love wearing dresses and saris in white. When it comes to accessories, I love wearing silver jewellery. I am very fond of swimming and yoga but of late, I am only doing cardio and weight training at the gym and loving it.