Home News Divya Dutta discusses cinema and other topics.

Divya Dutta discusses cinema and other topics.


There’s something about Divya Dutta. She may not have made it as a leading lady in Hindi cinema but no one can deny that she’s a powerhouse of talent. She’s the sort who’ll sparkle even in a two-minute role. She’ll engross you with her histrionics on the screen. Incidentally, Divya was launched as a heroine in 1994 with Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna. When her career as a lead actress didn’t take off, she started playing character roles in Hindi films. She then turned her attention to Punjabi films. And what she couldn’t do in Hindi cinema, she achieved up North. She became a leading lady and her pairing with Gurdas Maan got much acclaim. After making a mark in films and TV, Dutta is now shining on OTT.   She recently won the Best Actor In A Supporting Role In A Drama Series (Female) for her role in Special OPS.

OTT seems to be the future of entertainment and has levelled the playing field for performers like her, so to speak. She admits that these indeed are exciting times for an actor, she points out that twenty years ago, TV was touted as the future as it was booming. And maintains there’s an audience for every kind of product. “Once theatres open up, we will have an audience for OTT as well as theatres and for television too.  I’m sure that all three will boom. Yes, right now because of the lack of people going to theatres, everything is on OTT. But I think they both will  co-exist. It will be a good marriage,” she states. Ask her whether the acting process is different  when it comes to OTT and she says that’s not the case at all. She didn’t feel the difference as she’s always worked in a ‘different’ brand of cinema. “It’s different for the makers as you’re making six hours worth of content instead of your usual two hours. As an actor, you get a lot more freedom, you can express what you want to in a more distinctive way,” she explains.

Her last release Ram Singh Charlie, released over OTT, was raved for both its content and for the acting. Divya says it was a special film as the director Nitin Kakkar didn’t go for commercial viability but believed in telling a story. “Kumud Mishra fit the central role brilliantly. In fact, they thought I was the glamorous face of the film,” she giggles. “Nitin’s approach was so different. He told me to lay aside everything I was known for and just be the character. It made me nervous as an actor because it was like learning and unlearning again.” She enjoyed the whole process of making the film and was gratified that the audience took to it.
Divya says the film industry is known to put a stamp on the actors and hence if you’re serious about your craft it’s important not to get slotted. She personally feels she’d get bored doing the same thing over and over again. “When Delhi 6 came out, I started getting all these sensuous roles. After Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I started getting ‘sister’ kind of roles and with Badlapur it was back to serious roles. So, yes, I did make an effort to say no to the things I’ve done before and took on things that I hadn’t. However, if the script is really interesting and the director is good, then even if the role is similar to something that I’ve done before then I try and tweak it… give it a different colour,” she reveals.

Strangely, despite her credentials, she doesn’t call herself a method actor and maintains her method ends at the script level. She reads the script with the eye of the lay viewer. If she can’t relate to the script as a viewer, then mostly she says no to a role. And if she can relate to the script and to her character then she tries to find out what’s pushing the buttons of that particular character. “And, once all that is done, my look is set, I know my dynamics with the actors…I just let the magic of the set take over me. I just wear the shoes of the role and feel what it must feel like. So, if you call that a method then yes, but for me, it’s just flowing with it,” she asserts.

She had a passion for acting since she was four. She used to dance like Amitabh Bachchan and used to round up kids from the neighbourhood and enact Bachchan’s scenes. She grew up idolising the thespian and credits him for planting the seed of acting in her. “I come from a family of doctors and was expected to follow suit. I was good academically so it was all planned out. But maybe doing all those Bachchan impressions as a kid planted the seed of acting in me. Perhaps the universe wanted me to be an actor,” she gushes. She got a chance to act with her idol in Baghban (2003), where she played his daughter-in-law. “My dream of working with Bachchan saab came true not once but five times. But, yes it was surreal. It was something that I’d daydreamed about and it came true,” she reflects. Among the actresses, she idolises Meena Kumari and says she’d love to act in the Tragedy Queen’s biopic if given a chance. “I think her life was intriguing. I love her voice, I love her poetry, I love her acting. I think she’s done some really great films and I would like to portray her if a film were to be made. My second pick would be Amrita Pritam. I’m really attracted to her poetry.”

Ask her to pick a turning point in her career and she says every film is a turning point. She points out Delhi 6 got her the awards and made people take notice of her. Irada (2017) for which she won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, was another milestone, as it reiterated her faith in character roles. Having proved her versatility ten times over, is there something that she still yearns to do? Ask Divya that and she answers in the affirmative. “I’m greedy and hungry as an actor and this is just the beginning. Now is the time I’m getting the kind of roles that I want to bite my teeth into. I have such a wide variety of roles coming by. So, I’m just enjoying that,” she points out. She played a non-binary character in Sheer Qorma, an upcoming Indian Hindi LGBT romance short film written and directed by Faraz Arif Ansari. She plays Swara Bhaskar’s lover in the film, which also stars Shabana Azmi. Divya is excited about the project as it’s something she’s never attempted  before. “I trust my gut and upon reading the script I felt I had to do the film. It stars two strong women besides me and talks about a lot of relevant issues. I went into a space I’ve never been before and hence it was definitely challenging,” she gushes.

After the success of her first book, Me And Ma, which was dedicated to her mother, Divya is in the process of writing another one. “I’ll be launching the Hindi version of Me And Ma soon. The one that I’m writing now is my journey in movies. I cannot really divulge much but it is going to be about me as an actor.”
Given her chequered life, it will be an exciting book to read indeed.