Divya Dutta on completing 30 years in films: ‘I still feel like a newcomer’

She was last seen in Tahira Kashyap Khurrana’s Hindi film debut Sharmajee Ki Beti
Divya Dutta
Divya Dutta

“If you are passionate about something, you will be energetic about it," says actor Divya Dutta, who still feels like a newcomer after spending 30 years in the film industry.

The actor, known for films such as Veer-Zaara (2004), Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), Delhi-6 (2009), Special 26 (2013), Badlapur (2015), and Irada (2017), made her debut in 1994 with Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna when she was just 17.

It feels like yesterday that she started her journey in films, she said.

Speaking to PTI in an interview, she said, “I still feel like a newcomer. I didn't even know it's been 30 years. The experience is so fresh in my mind. When you are passionate about something then you are always energetic about it. I still feel like a child that I came here when I was 17-year-old. I feel the same. Have the same excitement.”

She added, “I am blessed that these 30 years have been beautiful. It was not conventional. It was the road I built on my own. I am happy the road I carved is followed by many co-actors or juniors. I met so many people and had so many experiences through which I became what I wanted to become today. I am very happy and proud.”

As an outsider, you come with stars in your eyes, recalled the actor, whose latest film release is Sharmajee Ki Beti.

"That when I come (into the industry), I will take it by storm. I will do this and that and people will know who Divya is. The thing about the industry is they never say ‘no’ to anyone as it is a business. Today you might not need this person for help but tomorrow you might. Everyone is very sweet to you. But most of the time wherever I go people keep telling me that we will work in the film together but later I realised none of this happened." Divya, who received a lot of acclaim and accolades for playing the role of the loveable Shabbo in Yash Chopra's 2004 romance drama Veer-Zaara, said she was sceptical about taking up the project.

"When I took on Veer-Zaara which was an unconventional role at that time, I received so much love. Yash uncle and Aditya (Chopra) told me that 'if the role was not special, we wouldn't have asked you to do it'. I was scared I did not want to be stuck in one image that I have come to become a heroine. If I do something different like this, I would be stuck there but I realised that gave me commercial success,” she said.

Veer-Zaara proved to be a career breakthrough for the actor who went on a signing spree after its critical and commercial success. It was producer Aditya Chopra, who served as writer and producer on the Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta-starrer, who asked her to create a legacy for herself in the industry while they were working on Yash Raj Films' Aaja Nachle (2007).

“I was sitting with him and he asked me 'What are you up to?' I said 'I signed 20 films' very proudly. What happens is with lots of difficulty you set yourself in the industry you just want to get busy. The feeling of being busy is very nice. So, he asked me, 'Well, you need money or something? ‘I said 'No. Why?’ He says, 'Why are you signing so many films? You are a good actor and you should leave a legacy behind’. So that really struck a chord with me,” she said.

She added, "I decided I will only do films that make my heart flutter. I left many big films and did small films. I love doing that because I feel the journey of a film is very important. I really like the fact that someone meets and tells me that 'If you are doing the film, it means it will be different'. I like my choices and I am glad my audience does too.”

In Sharmajee Ki Beti, Divya plays Kiran Sharma, a happy-go-lucky Patiala woman who feels lost after relocating to Mumbai and tries to find her individuality.

“There's a lot of relatability with Kiran's character and the love this character is receiving I'm really touched. Someone told me this is by far your finest performance. I was like the relatability the people have found with the character is how Tahira has written it,” she said.

Directed by Tahira Kashyap Khurana, the film is streaming on Prime Video.

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