“When you express gratitude, it helps you to lead a bharpur (plentiful) life that radiates positivity,” says National Award-winning actor Divya Dutta, whose recently-released book The Stars In My Sky: Those Who Brightened My Film Journey is receiving appreciation from Bollywood biggies. Not because she has featured 30 of them but the book is like the person she is — simple, honest and unflinching in acknowledging all those who supported her in her early days.
Also Read | Get ‘First Day First Show’, our weekly newsletter from the world of cinema, in your inbox . You can subscribe for free here
In the book, Divya recounts her association with some of the biggest names in the film industry such as Gulzar, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Salman Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Yash Chopra, Sonu Nigam, Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, Gurdas Maan and many others.
(Stay up to date on new book releases, reviews, and more with The Hindu On Books newsletter. Subscribe here. )
“It is not important where and how you start. What matters is the end,” she says, over a phone call from Mumbai. “This is the best tribute I could pay to all those I grew up watching and admired; they were my pillars of support and are an integral part of my life’s journey today.”
From timid and immersive interactions with cine stalwarts who shed their celebritydom and welcomed the newcomer, Divya talks about the impact it had on her and what she learnt from them. She also gives a peek into the other side of the filmi personalities whom audiences watch only on the silver screen and often wonder about their aura. “I have not forgotten anybody who helped me but I may have to write a sequel because 32 chapters are not enough,” says the actor, who has done 100-plus movies in her two-decade career and penned two books in five years.
Dutta says ever since she made her breakthrough in Hindi films with Yash Chopra's Veer Zara , the roles she has done have fetched her appreciation, critical acclaim and awards. "To play a memorable role is more important that playing the lead," says Divya, who played vital roles in films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag , The Forgotten Hero, Kargil War and Delhi-6 .
In her latest short film Sheer Qorma, she essays the part of a non-binary who has to deal with her mother’s disbelief and non-acceptance of her sexuality. Yet to be released in India, the film has picked up awards for best director/actor/short film in the international film festival circuit in the US recently.
“I am thrilled that I have been accepted and noticed by audiences in my small but diverse roles,” she says . Up next, Divya has films with Dibakar Banerjee and Rakesh Sharma. But she is still most excited with her latest book, in which she narrates anecdotes from her shooting sets and vanity vans of superstars . From the anxiety of facing legendary actors to matching the cool confidence of superstars, the experiences have been varied and unexpected for her. “I am living the life of my dreams,” she admits candidly.
(The Stars in My Sky: Those Who Brightened My Film Journey is published by Penguin Random House India)