There was a time when the protagonist always took centre stage in rustic, performance-driven films like Babumoshai Bandookbaaz but the tables seem to have turned. Undoubtedly, while leading man Nawazuddin Siddiqui was in top form in the movie, one of the shining stars of the film – Divya Dutta – proved her worth with a significant role. Here she is, in conversation with Bhakti Mehta.
ON THE BRIEF
When Kushan Nandy came to me with the role, all he could tell me was that this role had never been done before and that I would be presented very differently. When I heard that, I was thrilled. I thought it was a very colourful role with loads of flavour. I was ecstatic and thought ki mujhe toh ye film karni hi karni hai. But there wasn’t any particular brief given to me. I had to just go with the flow. I enjoyed it, I liked the ambitious woman that is Sumtirajiji.
ON THE ROLE
I think a woman has many shades. Sumitrajiji is a go-getter and ambitious. She uses her sensuality to extract favours from the inspector and her henchman. I love the chemistry she has with the inspector. They have a love-hate thing going and it was a surprise for the audience. There was a lot at play here… anger, romance, sensuality, using crass language and I was allowed to play around as much as I needed. There is a scene where I light Bidita’s house on fire in the film and I loved that shot. Then there’s the scene where Sumitrajiji comes to the other villain and says that mera pet kharab hai, bathroom jaana hai. All these things make her sensual and human. Even my look changed in the seven-year gap in the film. It was nice playing two different looks, where your body language also changes as you go from being a ladki to a woman.
ON THE CHALLENGES
The role itself was a challenge but if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been so much fun. It is great fun to sink your teeth into something and enjoy your role to the fullest. Like, I am majorly claustrophobic and they put me in that ditch for the death scene, about 5 feet under. It was 46 degrees and I was very nervous but the entire crew including Nawaz was there for me. Sometimes, when you are nervous, tabhi bhi maza aata hain. It is nice to have experiences like these, that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise had.
ON DIRECTOR KUSHAN NANDY
I think Kushan is a very clear guy; he knows what he wants from his actors. I think he had a lot of confidence in me. He would simply explain what he wanted from me and then let me do it my way. I had a blast doing an action role in the film and Kushan gave me the space I needed. The way he chopped the role for me was amazing. It is a big high for an actor to be rediscovered by someone, to be seen in a different light.
ON HER CO-STARS
I got to work with Nawaz and Bhagwan in the film and they are both fantabulous. Nawaz and I should sign a pact to do films together because we have quite a few of them coming up! I love his simplicity. We share a bond and I can tell him if I want to do a scene differently. As for Bhagwan… it was the first time I had met him. I had watched Masaan and really liked it. But the way he did the scenes, I didn’t feel he was an actor, I felt he was an inspector. Also, he has a nice charm.
ON THE RESPONSE
People have been calling and telling me that they loved the film and my character in it. It feels amazing when the film is received well by the audience. I am especially glad because it is a negative role. It is nice for me to do something that is against my type.
ON FUTURE PROJECTS
Some beautiful projects are happening right now. There is Manto with Nawaz. Then there is a film called Ransom Charlie with Nitin Kakkad. Then there is Raita with Irrfan Khan and Arunoday Singh and Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s next. I have also signed two period films and one international film. None of the roles I will be doing in these films are roles that I have done before. I am enjoying it!