Divya Dutta says 'Bollywood is a lovely industry, but there are times when you're propositioned'

Seema Sinha

Apr,15 2018 15:29:25 IST

After spending over two decades in Bollywood and having more than 100 films to her credit, Divya Dutta may still be regarded as an underrated actor, but her first National Award win could change the industry perception about her. Dutta has carved a niche for herself by portraying a variety of characters and thus saving herself from the risk of getting stereotyped in this largely male-dominated industry. Be it a sacrificing sister to Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), a notorious cop in Special 26 (2013) or a dominating wife in her recent release, Blackmail, Divya has always left a lasting impression on the viewers. From veteran actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Amitabh Bachchan to film critics, Divya has been garnering praise for her wacky character in Blackmail. Her supporting roles in Delhi-6, Veer Zara, Heroine and Badlapur also deserve a mention.

Divya Dutta. Image from Twitter/@UrbanAsian

Divya Dutta. Image from Twitter/@UrbanAsian

On Friday (13 April), it was announced that Divya had won the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 2017 film, Irada. Ecstatic, she told a section of media: “It’s my first National Award win. I was packing for an outdoor shoot, when I started getting calls from the media. It feels beautiful. I feel like my hard work of all these years has got recognition. I was watching the National Awards but I ended up missing [the announcement of] the main awards. I am really happy.”

With nine films lined up, including Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Fanne Khan, Nandita Das’ Manto, Anubhav Sinha’s Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Malala Yousafzai’s biopic, a psychological thriller alongside Juhi Chawla and Arshad Warsi, and now the prestigious award in her kitty, it is definitely one of the best phases for Divya. She debuted in 1994 with Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna, following which she landed a lead role in Salman Khan-starrer  Veergati. Then came a string of supporting roles. “Yes, it is one of the nicest phases because I am getting films that I am keen on doing without making too much of efforts like in the past, and I am also being appreciated for my work,” says Divya

“I am excited about all these films, particularly about working with some of the new directors who are brilliant. Be it small films like Music Teacher, Ram Singh Charlie, or Fanne Khan, I am super excited because each of my characters in these films is starkly different from the other,” quips the actress. “It’s a very exciting time now, especially with such amazing roles being written. As actors, it is important for us to push ourselves every time and reinvent. Earlier, due to the star system, the norm was to first get big stars on board and then write the story and script around them. Now we are first writing a story and when the script comes in, we start casting. We have also introduced the casting directors so the functioning has become more meticulous and corporate-like,” says Divya.

"Directors have started making beautiful films, not that we didn’t make beautiful films earlier, but a lot of experimentation is happening with subjects. If you look at the stars, Varun (Dhawan) is the best example. He has done October. So, the real hero is a beautiful story and a good director, and if we get good actors as well then nothing like it. Also, the audience has changed big time. They will go watch a Newton, or a Bareilly Ki Barfi. They will watch all those films that are content-driven and yet they make them commercial successes,” she adds.

Divya has been consistently giving noteworthy performances and has managed to hold her own in the fickle world of Bollywood by portraying powerful characters. Though she feels pretty satisfied with the work she has done so far, she doesn’t like the practice of slotting actors. “I am called an underrated actor but I think I have been getting a large variety of roles. We have this habit of slotting actors but it didn’t happen with me because they didn’t know how to slot me. I do all kinds of roles and I have gotten my due because nobody has taken my slot, my space. So, I am pretty happy with the kind of films and directors I am working with. And an actor should never feel satisfied, the day you feel satisfied, it is all over,” says Divya, who feels that she has become more confident and bolder by the day. “Now I want to experiment a lot more. I have definite opinions about certain topics whereas earlier I used to be very diplomatic. Now I have a mind of my own and I can express much better,” she adds.

She also has strong thoughts on sexual harassment, exploitation and the #MeToo campaign that started from Hollywood. Bollywood is slowly waking up to the horrors too as actors continue to open up about casting couch. “If you name people here, what is going to come out? You will be isolated, secluded unless someone is standing with you. Even though actresses here are not taking names, they are at least saying that they have been exploited, which is a big step. The people that they are talking about very well know that and thus, a kind of alertness and awareness has come in,” says Divya, who admits of being propositioned. She continues, “This is a lovely industry but there are times when you're propositioned. And it is not necessary that if you compromise you will get the film.”

While Divya has shared screen space with Shah Rukh and Salman Khan, she says she would love to work with Aamir. “And I am also dying to work with Gulzarsaab, Vishal Bhardwaj...Just few days back I saw Majid Majidi (celebrated Iranian filmmaker) on the beach. I am longing to work with him, too," she says flashing her infectious smile.

Updated Date: Apr 15, 2018 15:29 PM