Divya Dutta on playing Milkha Singh’s sister.

Divya Dutta is no stranger to Partition stories and “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” also opens the wounds that refuse to heal. From “Train to Pakistan” to “Veer Zara” she has been part of the painful past many times. “Destiny has given me a chance to be a part of many films that have portrayed the sad reality. My mother who lived this reality still compels me to feed the needy because she has seen people starving.” Divya says Ishar is crucial to the story. “She is Milkha’s sounding board. She pawned her jewellery to save his career. After winning every race he would come to her and show the medal.”

Divya and Rakeysh Mehra go back a long way. “He gave me a solid role in ‘Delhi 6’ and we have worked together in a couple of ad films. So when he offered me the role of Milkhaji’s sister, I accepted it immediately. For a long time we haven’t seen a film on brother-sister relationship. The only films that come to my mind are ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ and ‘Josh’. For a long time the role of a sister in Hindi film was to suffer or get molested so that the hero could play the guardian angel. Sister didn’t need to have an identity. Things are changing for better now. Here Prasoon has done elaborate research and as actors we just needed to follow the script.” She is full of praise for Farhan. “He has become Milkha Singh. It helped me a lot for the emotions would flow without any effort.”

Divya says there is nothing like a character artiste anymore. “The industry is looking for actors now for audiences don’t want cardboard characters anymore. Recently, my Twitter account was full of praise for my performance in “Special 26” when it was telecast on television. In terms of duration it was less than even a cameo. It shows the longest role in the film need not be the most impactful one. I am still remembered as Shabbo and Jalebi. It means people haven’t got tired of me and that’s a plus for a supporting actor.” The point is when a supporting actor tries to bite a little more, the media and the public doesn’t care to notice. It happened with Divya when her “Monica”, where she played the title role, went unnoticed. “The sad reality is you just don’t need a good role you also a need a banner which can take it to the people. If the same film was backed by somebody like Karan Johar, it would have made headlines,” reasons Divya.

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