“When I step into the sets as an actor, I forget that I am also a director” DIVYA KHOSLA KUMAR tells JYOTHI VENKATESH a day after the release of her film Satyameva Jayate 2 directed by Milap Zhaveri in which she is playing the leading lady of John Abraham.
How would you evaluate your growth as an actor from then and now?
When I shifted to Mumbai all the way from Delhi, as a model, I was just a 17 year old young kid on the block.
I shifted because I thought that Mumbai will get me better offers as a model. And hey Presto, in just around six months, I bagged the offer to play the main lead along with Amitabh Bachchan, Bobby Deol and Akshay Kumar in Anil Sharma’s film Ab Tumhare Hawale Wattan Saathiyon.
After Ab Tumhare Hawale Wattan Saathiyon, why did you stop chasing acting offers and take up direction?
Basically I was a very creative person. After my marriage to Bhushan Kumar, to be frank, I did not at all get good opportunities as an actress, since I was not well connected to the film industry as such and was considered small fry.
I decided to step behind the cameras and wield the megaphone for the film Yaariyan which was my debut as a director.
It turned out to be a super duper hit though it comprised rank newcomers and then I followed it up with a film called Sanam Re. I felt raw and decided to be part of music videos and keep myself busy 24/7.
After Yaariyaan and Sanam Re, why did you stop directing films?
After Sanam Re which was released way back in 2016, it is true that I decided enough is enough and not to direct a film once again and tried to look out for acting offers and thankfully Milap Zaveri approached me in 2019 with the offer to cast me in his film Satyameva Jayate 2.
I told him that I would be only too glad to be part of his film as a leading lady, if it is a strong woman oriented role since I really felt that my destiny had not given me the right opportunity to prove my mettle as an actor in films.
Do you feel that Satyamev Jayate 2 is actually a big turning point in your career?
You can say that, because real opportunities started only after I signed the film. John Abraham is a huge brand today and Milap Zhaveri is a talented director
What is your approach as an actor when a director on the sets?
When I step into the film sets as an actor, I automatically step into the world as well as the vision of the director of the film.
I make it a point to leave the director inside me outside the sets and go with full trust as well as faith in my director or else I will not be able to give my best as an actor for the film. I could not at all have envisioned a role like Milap has done in the film as the director.
Can you please elucidate?
You see both the mindsets are totally different. As the director of a film, on the sets the responsibility of the entire unit vests with you and it is essential that you have to be readily giving and you have to bring all together in the budget allotted to you as a director whereas as an actor you need not bear the responsibility of the unit on your shoulders
How is Milap Zhaveri as a director?
I am extremely glad that I am the only leading lady in a film like Satyameva Jayate 2 which has not one or two but three John Abrahams.
Milap has presented me with really strong and impactful dialogues. Even while working on the sets just as an actor, if I start thinking even in my mind , I would not be able to even act because on the sets I have to follow as an actor what my director tells me.
After your marriage to T Series Head Honcho Bhuhan Kumar, you are an actor-director and also a producer. How do you manage to strike the right balance between the three jobs as an actor, director and producer?
Look here. I am not either the producer or for that matter the co-producer of Satyameva Jayate 2 though I concede that I was the producer and director of both Yaariaan and Sanam Re.
Emmay Entertainment has produced Satyameva Jayate 2. As an actor I am primarily charting out my career path which is quite separate from what T Series is doing.
Only then will justice be done amply not only to me as an actor but also the character that I am portraying in my films as I am of the opinion that I should be held accountable individually as an actor in films in which I am an actor.
I only wish that people see me individually and realize my potential and capacity as an actor, because in 2016, I never got an opportunity. It took me three years to get an offer as an actress since people were reluctant initially.
How did you set out to tackle your character in Satyameva Jayate 2?
I play the character of Vidya who is a hardcore political activist in the film. I have never had any political background as a person and I have never closely interacted with any politician till date but I guarantee you that you will not be able to see Divya Khosla Kumar in my character Vidya in the film.
Vidya is so strong and not only does she wield a lot of power but also commands a lot of power. That precisely was what my challenge was while acting the part in the film.
Do you feel that there is a preconceived notion among the producers that they should approach you only through Bhushan for an acting role?
Till date no one has approached me with a role through Bhushan. In any case, let me tell you that though Bhushanji asks me for feedback if I am part of any production, these days I am not sitting in the office every day.
I’d say that being on the sets is the happiest thing for me because I feel that it is the place where I really belong and there is absolutely no pressure as an actor at all being a part of T Series because you just cannot work with pressure especially when you are in the creative business.
Do you think it would have been different if your late father in law Gulshan Kumar had continued to rule the music industry with his vision today?
Gulshan ji was a genius but unluckily for me I was not at all fortunate to meet him in my life. I feel it would have been amazing if only he were alive today.
Unlike in 2003 when you had made your debut with Ab Tumhare Hawale Wattan Saathiyon, there are a lot of females on the sets. How do you feel?
In the past there were three or four girls on the sets whereas today there are only three or four boys because the film industry has opened so much. It is great and amazing. I’d really say that things have really changed for women.
Whereas earlier girls did not have substantial role s to play, it is indeed a good sign that I am playing a power packed role in Satyameva Jayate 2 in spite of the fact that John Abraham is essaying three different roles in the film that today females are working in different capacities