Actress Divya Dutta, who has completed 26 years in the entertainment industry, celebrated her birthday quietly with loved ones at home on September 25. Divya started out as a mainstream Bollywood actress in the mid-nineties but made heads turn for the first time with a small but impactful role in Pamela Rooks' 1998 screen adaptation of Khushwant Singh's novel, "Train To Pakistan". Over the years, she has carved a niche as a vesatile performer who can impress in commercial as well as arthouse cinema.
In conversation with IANS, the 2018 National Award (Best Supporting Actress) winner for her role in "Irada" looks back at the films that changed her career completely.
Veer Zaara (2004)
Recalling the Yash Chopra film, Divya said: "By that time I had worked in a few films but the amount of recognition that I got because of 'Veer Zaara', never happened before. Like many others, I have grown up watching Yash Chopra's iconic films and in my dreams, I also wanted to be a YRF heroine! Of course, that did not happen with 'Veer Zaara' but the way Yash Chopra ji introduced me to the commercial cinema space and the recognition I got was surreal!"
"These days, everyone is doing substantial roles that are not so-called 'lead roles', nowadays the word 'character actor' is outdated. But 15 years ago, it was a risk for me -- what if I get typecast? Everyone remembered Shabbo, though there were three superstars in the film."
Delhi 6 (2009)
"That was the first time I have got a chance to work with Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra and it was a completely different character from Shabbo. My look, my dialogues, the section of society that the character represents -- everything was an integral part of the story. It was so satisfactory," recalled Divya. In the film, she played a sweeper named Jalebi, who comes from a lower caste and is untouchable.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
"It was such a well-written character. It was the biopic on one man but the character of his sister and her contribution in his journey is so intertwined that it became a brother-sister story! I not only got positive reviews for that role but love, admiration and reverence."
"The character graph of Shobha that I had in the film, some of the crucial scenes with Varun (Dhawan) in the story, and the way the equation between the two changes, was all so deliciously written! (Director) Sriram (Raghavan) is such a brilliant filmmaker. I think that film was also very important in my career because, again, with a superstar like Varun Dhawan in a film, we reached out to a different set of audience that otherwise I do not get a chance to with films that are close to my heart," said the actress.
"Badlapur" also featured Yami Gautam, Radhika Apte, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vinay Pathak.
"Special 26" (2013) and "Ramsingh Charlie" (2020)
Apart from these films that gave her a wide exposure to the mainstream audience, Divya cites two films that are very close to her heart -- "Special 26" (2013) and "Ramsingh Charlie", which dropped digitally a few weeks ago.
"During the shoot of both these films I had to unlearn a lot in order to play these characters. Neeraj Pandey (director of 'Special 26') and Nitin Kakkar ('Ramsingh Charlie') have very different styles of working, and I had nervous energy on the first day of shoot. I think that is good energy, which made me push to an extent to bring out my best. So, these two films are very very special!" said Divya.