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Updated: September 17, 2010 18:53 IST

Divya decoded

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Divya Dutta. Photo: Special Arrangement.
The Hindu Divya Dutta. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Divya Dutta on her role in “Life Express” and more

When the ‘Dhak Dhak' girl Madhuri Dixit and then the Kapoor Gen Next Karisma ruled the hearts of millions and dominated Bollywood, an unknown girl, an unknown name, had already started her silent journey towards stardom, a journey that began in a Punjabi family of doctors and took her to a niche as a reputed actor.

We are talking about Divya Dutta, the little girl who shines big time in small roles. This week she will be seen as a surrogate mother in Life Express. “I am still a very simple person,” says Divya over phone from Mumbai. Talking about the role, Divya says, “I am playing an earthy village woman who rents her womb to a rich and busy couple.” Yashpal Sharma plays her husband and Rituparna Sengupta plays the busy girl whom she helps. “Yashpal is a dear friend and I had a great time working in it. The role of a surrogate mother was challenging. I went through a lot of data to understand the character better.”

A graduate (in English honours) from Panjab University, Divya, the first in her family to join films, came into the picture as a chirpy television host on Doordarshan. Soon she was noticed by Bollywood directors and she started with multi-starrers like Suraksha and Veergati. The films failed and as Divya didn't fit in the frame of the lissom Bollywood heroine, she was sidelined to the supporting cast. Divya has a great voice and she proved it when she dubbed for Lisa Ray in Kasoor. Soon she began to make her presence felt from the sidelines as her performance in Joggers' Park and Baghban were appreciated. Then came Veer Zara. The Yash Chopra film brought her critical acclaim as she won the Filmfare Award for the best actor in a supporting role. It was followed by Umrao Jaan, Delhi 6 and Morning Walk, where she was noticed despite the presence of big stars. In fact, this has become Divya's USP.

It seems her girl-next-door looks have limited her options. The actor, however, insists on her versatility, saying she has tried to break free of her straight-laced image with “some bold photo shoots for magazine covers” and in her upcoming project Monica, she plays a glamorous girl with lesbian orientation.

Divya, who has just signed her third English film, Heart Land, finds no big difference working in Hollywood productions and calls it just an “extension” of her job. She, however, agrees that “it increases one's audience base.”

She also has a long experience of acting in television and theatre. Divya calls theatre her “food for creative appetite” as she finds the “immediate audience response very heartening and encouraging.” During her student days, she was an active member of her college theatre society. For the time being though, she is trying to match the demands of new-age Bollywood and avoid getting typecast by shedding her extra weight.

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