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“Suddenly, the world is noticing me!”

Divya Dutta on life after Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Sudden recognition

I have been in the industry for a long time but now suddenly the world seems to be noticing me! I am very happy with the way my role is being appreciated. Even people I don’t know have been messaging me and telling me how well I played the part. For an actor, it’s always a huge deal when people appreciate your work.

On Her Character

I have worked with Rakeysh earlier but when he offered me this role, it sounded very clichéd and I wasn’t sure. He told me he had written the role with me in mind and I had to do it. I guess that’s the kind of belief Rakeysh has in me. When I heard the narration, I was bowled over by my character and instantly said ‘yes’.

Working With Farhan Akhtar

I have always been a fan of Farhan’s work, both as an actor and as a director. The way he trained for this role was very inspiring. There were many emotional scenes which we did together. Rakeysh told us, ‘Do it on your own because too many retakes makes it technical.’ So many scenes started at one level and ended on an altogether different level. So there was this beautiful improvisation in every scene that Farhan indulged in and I enjoyed every moment.

For example, in a particular scene, when he walked in a coat I don’t recognise him and later gifts me earrings. When we finished that scene, I noticed how Rakeysh’s eyes had welled up. That’s the kind of bonding we shared. Whenever there was an emotional scene, I used to break down just to get the feel of it. I haven’t used a single drop of glycerine!

On Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

He is simply brilliant! I worked with him in Delhi 6 and no one imagined me in such a feisty role, where I was smoking a beedi and was quite abusive. He is a genius. When he was narrating the Delhi 6 script, I was in two minds whether the character would put me in an erotic and sensuous bracket. But, Rakeysh helped me understand that it is important for an actor to keep reinventing herself with new roles.

On meeting Milkha Singh

While I was growing up, I had heard stories about Milkha Singh. So meeting him was a dream come true. Farhan and I went to meet Milkhaji, and we noticed that he was very dependent on his sister. He shared every little detail about his sister with us. She was like a mother to him. Even when he saw the film, he was crying and told me we had portrayed the relationship very well on screen. Milkhaji is a family man; he believes in family ties and that inspired me. His story of the Partition and the way he was raised was very touching.

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