We’re big fans of Divya Dutta‘s work, and therefore have been especially excited to see her playing the role of a fun, single mother in Gippi. It releases on Friday so we don’t have to wait too much longer, but in the mean time we had a great chat with her about the film, her own mother, and even her upcoming book. Of course we’ve got the full transcript here for you, so read on!
Team MissMalini (Team MM): Tell us about your character in Gippi.
Divya Dutta (DD): My character in Gippi, I would say, is someone who is very close to my heart. She’s a very real mom; it’s not a stereotypical, cliche mom where you’d say, “I look up to ma.” She’s somebody who’s a friend, a buddy, who’s jhalli… as jhalli as Gippi. Vulnerable, and yet very strong when her daughter needs her. It’s a great combo, and there are some great moments that Gippi and I share in the film… be it mad or emotional. That’s the kind of bonding I’ve had with my mom, so that’s crazy. I don’t even call my mom mom, I call her Pari. It’s the same way Gippi behaved with me, so it was very beautiful, very relatable and it took me back to my teenage days. I’ve been just as crazy, as mad as Gippi in my teenage years.
Team MM: How difficult was it playing a single mother?
DD: I’ve seen my mother as a single mother all my life – she’s a widow. I’ve very closely seen something like that, so I could relate to it. But the kind of layers Sonam [Nair, director] has given, they’re beautiful. I have some of the nicest lines that I’ll probably remember for life, not just for this film. I can’t probably say it right now, but later when the film releases I’ll definitely say which were my favourites. But yeah, my favourite scene in this film is when she’s going through a conflict in her life and there’s no one she can share it with, so she finally opens up to her daughter. It’s a beautiful scene. I think I’ve been an anchor to my mom as a child, so I could feel how she could’ve been feeling, probably… you know, the vulnerability of a woman who wants to share but can’t, and who needs to keep up a strong front so that she’s not taken for granted. It’s not a very great place to be and I wonder sometimes why my mother didn’t get married again, because it is a lonely world out there. It’s a great sacrifice your parents make for you sometimes, and I could feel it while playing Gippi’s mom.
Team MM: Do you think that in real life you’d be a mother similar to your character in Gippi?
DD: Oh, totally! I wouldn’t want to be a single mother [laughs], I’d want my husband to be with me, but totally. As mad, as crazy, as nutty as that. That is actually me; I’ve added a lot of myself to the film. It’s great when your director allows you to be crazy, funky, mad. That’s nice.
Team MM: What we liked best about the Gippi promo is that it doesn’t shy away from talking about things that are still considered taboo. Do you think this is a new era for filmmaking, where movies like this can be made and accepted?
DD: Oh, yes. I remember, I was the first person to get my boobs in my class and I used to have all the guys looking at me and I’d wonder why, because I never knew. So that time, I was very conscious about sharing with people and asking what to do, until someone told you, “Listen, you need to go and get yourself a bra.” Those are ways you learned, but now times are different, and it’s great that people talk about something that happens in everyone’s life. It’s real, it’s not something vulgar. The film is like educating your child in a very entertaining way, like these are things you need to do. I think it’s a great thing to accomplish, and I remember Sonam was telling me that a mother had come to her and said, “You know, I’m so glad you showed this. My daughter doesn’t share with me, so I just told her to see the Gippi promo.” So I think people who are not open would open up a little more, and those who are already onto it are loving it.
Team MM: On that note, Gippi seems like a fairly female-centric film, and recently we’ve had a few of these. So do you think the trend of a male-dominated industry is shifting?
DD: The male dominance in the industry is here to stay. It is not going, period. You will always love to watch a Khan film, where you see a hero bashing up people. I’d love to see it as an audience myself, but having said that, people have definitely become more open to seeing female-centric movies. These kind of movies are becoming superhits, are being loved and acknowledged at the awards, so I think it’s a great sign. A good story, a good presentation is the most important things, regardless of whether it’s female-centric or male-centric. You give them a good film, and they’ll take it.
Team MM: What was it like for you, working with what is essentially a very young cast?
DD: I kind of fit in, because there’s a real mad side to me and I’m a bachcha at home myself. It was like going back to my childhood and being just the way I am, so there was no, like, “Madam ke liye chai lao.” I was just one amongst the kids, doing as much masti as they were. We used to play games on the set – the trio, me and my children, were totally not to be disturbed. Sonam used to join in as well, so it was a great, fun unit, and pata hi nahin chala picture khatam bhi ho gayi. I miss it. You don’t get this kind of stuff in every film.
Team MM: And what was it like working with a first-time director?
DD: I’ve worked with so many first-timer directors… there’s a certain energy, enthusiasm, belief that they bring with them. I would especially want to say something for Sonam – this is kind of a biographical film for her, and she’s been very true to it. I mean, jo jaisa tha woh waisa hi aaya hai. That’s very rare. Sometimes you read the script and something else comes out. She’s exactly churned out what she wanted, and she’s been true to it totally. I’m very happy to meet someone who is exactly what they are outside as they are inside.
Team MM: We also hear you’re writing a book. Can you tell us a little about that?
DD: I’m writing a novel, which should come out by the end of this year. I write my weekly columns for newspapers, and when I started writing I realized I have a readership where people look up to what you write and relate to you. I remember I had written something where I said that I went on a holiday with myself and it was great to have a friend in me. I met a middle-aged woman when I was performing, and I thought she had come up to hug me for my play, but she said, “I love your play, but I’m here to tell you that thanks to you, I had a holiday with myself.” And I was like, wow, so you relate to people with your writings, and that’s why I started writing more and more. Suddenly this story sort of came by and, yeah… should be out by the end of this year.
Team MM: One last message for your fans on MissMalini?
DD: MissMalini, I love the name. [laughs] Well… always come to me through MissMalini, I think it’s been a great way of interacting with people who want to connect with me. Just want to say, keep loving me the way you do and believing in me. I always like to churn out something new for them, and for me, every film is like a newcomer and I’m glad they treat me like one. Please keep that love going.