Exclusive Conversation with Bollywood Actress Divya Duttaby Opinion Express June 4, 2018 0 comments
After giving remarkable performances in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Veer-Zaara and the winner of the National Award for her Supporting Role in Irada, Bollywood actress Divya Dutta talks to Musba Hashmi about her upcoming biopic Manto and her recently released movies. She mentioned during her talk that she is a greedy and versatile actor.
Tell us about the biopic on Manto?
The film throws light on the life of Saadat Hasan Manto, a popular Pakistani writer, playwright and author. The story talks about the tumultuous years of Manto and his journey from India to Pakistan during Partition. Director Nandita Das has beautifully woven stories about his writings on the two nations that became the reason for its rise and fall.
What role did character, Kulwant Kaur, play in his life?
She was just a part of a short story that he wrote. It is a very small yet integral role. She was one of the women who he found very independent and liberating in her thoughts and actions. She speaks her mind and is proud of her sexuality. She was probably someone Manto may have come across in real life. She takes pride in loving her husband who ends up raping a Muslim girl. When she finds out, she kills him.
What challenges did you face?
Nandita asked me if I would be comfortable doing some intimate scenes with Ranvir Shorey in the presence of the crew and I was fine with it. I don’t call them challenges because as an actor, you are playing a character and telling a story.
Any scene that was out of your comfort zone?
I had to be to totally uninhabited since Kulwant is like that. She is somebody who is totally passionate about her sexuality and I had to bring that out naturally and effortlessly. When the camera said ‘action’, I forgot about all the inhibitions and became the character. When the scene got over, people from the crew were awestruck and told me that shot was done beautifully. Das was very sensitive to the bold scenes and I will always appreciate this gesture from her because the shot could have been awkward. But she made sure I was at ease with Shorey.
When did you first read about Manto?
When I was in college, I was told Manto was a very controversial writer and not to read much about him. But I still managed to read one or two stories by him and loved them. It was much later, a just a couple of years back, that I actually read his work again and thoroughly enjoyed and found a connection with what he has written.
You have been part of other biopics too. What kind of approach do you have?
When you are playing a real life character, you have to take care of a lot of things like drawing similarities between real and reel story and how convincingly you play the real part on big screen — how close you come to the true story. Since my role in Manto is a part of one of the short stories written by him, I had the liberty to give my own colour to the character something that you can’t do in a biopic.
How was your experience working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui?
Technically, this is my third film with him after Badlapur and Babumoshai Bandookbaaz but in Manto, I don’t share a screen space with him since I’m a part of the story written by Manto, played by Nawaz). So we are not together. But working with him in other films was a delight. He is a humble person, has a superb sense of humour and is a dear friend. Even at Cannes after the screening of Manto, we went out together and had loads of fun.
Does a movie make an actor or vice-versa?
It is the movie and a good script that makes an actor popular. You can’t rise above a bad film.
You won a National Award for Irada for Best Supporting Role. Has the recognition come late?
There is a right time for everything. Recognition was always there, it is not like suddenly somebody recognised me. Yes, a National Award takes time. But there is an adage: Better late than never. I am happy that it finally came.
Which character has been close to you ?
I’ve emotionally attached to Delhi-6 because it was a very different role from who I actually am. I had to put in extra effort to play my character — Jalebi, a rag picker. The team helped me get the into the shoes of the character. Also, the entire experience of working with brilliant actors like Wahidaji, Rishi Kapoor and Omji (Puri) was great.
What is your take on the kind of films that are being made like Parmanu…, Raazi and PadMan?
I am delighted that we have such an amazing variety of films coming out. I am more delighted that the audience is loving such films and taking them to the Rs 100-crore club. Even though they are not your typical superstar films, the content and their makers are the heroes.
What are your upcoming projects?
There are about eight films releasing this year. After Manto there is Fanne Khan with Anil Kapoor, Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, a biopic on Malala, a romantic movie Music Teacher, a psychological thriller with Arshad Warsi and Juhi Chawla and another film with Arjun Rampal.
Writer: Musba Hashmi
Courtesy: The Pioneer