Sometimes, the success of a film does not ride on the strength of the lead cast alone; it is the supporting actors that take it up several notches. Recently, we saw quite a few strong films releasing in theatres and many supporting actors that wowed us as they essayed pivotal roles on screen. We spoke to Divya Dutta, who played a doting mother in Fanney Khan. Here she is in conversation with Padma Iyer
On the brief
Kavita is the bridge between the father and the daughter. She is a woman who is always standing behind her husband and her daughter. But when she needs to speak her mind, she does. She is a normal, regular woman who is simple. Her dreams are not big. I think the critics have really picked the right line when she says ‘Star bana na zaroori hai kya?’ She says very simply, that is it such a big deal that you are making of it or the daughter is making of it? Nevertheless, she stands by them. There are different layers to it. Every scene had a different Kavita for me. That’s what I really enjoyed.
On the role
I think when you know the character is simple, uss mein zyaada karne ki zaroorat nahin hai. You have to be very genuine about the simplicity that she has. You have to set aside the actor and just be simple and not overdo things, just understated and let her be. In fact, I have got a lot of love for the climax sequence. In middle-class families, they usually don’t express their love for each other. Finally, in stressful situations and after everything they have gone through, their dream is coming true. That is when they express themselves. I thought that was one of the most beautiful scenes and I enjoyed doing it. All I did was just let myself be in that situation, being Kavita. Acting is just living the role you are playing.
On the director
He (Atul Manjrekar) was very clear about what he wanted. It was masti on the sets. We had a lot of workshops at Anil‘s (Kapoor) house. There was food and lots of discussions. Once he told me what he wanted, he just let me be. If he needed something extra, he would tell me, you could also add this and maybe that as well. I loved working with him.
On the co-stars
It was most amazing that Anil would remember not only his but my lines as well. He would write them down. I am not a homework kind of person. It was like two different types of actors working together and the chemistry worked beautifully. I have met AK many times, but this time we bonded over scenes. I personally feel the magic happens on the set, when you wear the costume and the co-actors are in front of you.
Pihu (Sand) and I got along famously. She was less of a daughter and more of a friend. We used to chat and it was good fun. We bonded over music and I used to pull her up for being ‘so nasty’ to her father, (laughs). She has this raw energy, and when you see her perform, especially the songs… not even veterans can perform like that.
On the response
After the preview of the film, one of my very favourite actors – I won’t take names – said it doesn’t look like there’s any acting happening. You blew us away! We take you back with us. That was so lovely and it felt beautiful coming from a veteran. It felt really nice and that you are doing something right.
On future projects
After Fanney Khan, there is Manto. It has gone to the Toronto Film Festival. There is Anubhav Sinha’s film, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. It is a brilliant satire. Then I am doing a biopic on Malala called Gul Makai. Then there is beautiful love story called Music Teacher opposite Manav Kaul. It has Panchamda’s (RD Burman) music from all his films. Then there Ramsingh Charlie, a film based on the circus directed by Nitin Kakkar. There is also a psychological thriller with Arshad Warsi.