DEEKSHA JOSHI, who plays the lead in 376 D slated for beaming on ShemarooMeBox Office from October 9, tells JYOTHI VENKATESH that she does not wish to ever be shackled by geography or language but work in as diverse kinds of cinema as possible.
Isn’t it great that your film 376 D is finally being showcased to the world?
Yes, it is very elating that a platform as widespread as ShemarooMe has picked our film up for streaming it on ShemarooMe Box Office. The core subject is dealt with a lot of sensitivity and the film has its heart in the right place. It is also the first movie made by Gunveen and Robin, the immensely talented director duo, so I am glad the world can finally see it.
Is this your first film in Hindi?
Technically yes, this is my first Hindi film, although this isn’t a mainstream Bollywood film. In that zone, I have just shot for Jayeshbhai Jordaar with Ranveer Singh for Yashraj Films. I play his sister in the film, and that will mark my first big Bollywood break, so to speak.
You’re being called the “reigning queen” of Gujarati cinema. What is your take on that?
(Chuckles) I am very humbled, but I don’t put it or see it that way. I don’t think I am a queen, I am proud of being part of some significant projects in the past few years which have been lauded in Gujarat and other parts of the country as well. I am also thankful for the people of Gujarat for accepting a Pahadi girl from Uttarakhand, although my family has now been settled in this city for almost 25 years.
How would you describe your role in the film?
I have to keep a lot of details under the wraps till 376D doesn’t release, but in short, the film discusses the intricacies of Section 376D, and my character, Sandhya, is the protagonist Sanju’s partner. I play a very sensitive person who stands besides her boyfriend in a testing period in his life when he is absolutely shattered from inside. Sandhya is also very matured and responsible and always stands up for the right issues. I studied gender and literature in St.Xavier’s Ahmedabad which enhanced my understanding of this layered and complex story. The kind of scope that I got in this film as a performer is massive, which was a boon since I was relatively new to this field while working on 376 D four years ago, in 2016, to be precise.
Without divulging the story, what made you accept a role where you aren’t the focal point of the script?
I don’t necessarily look at projects that way. The message my character conveys is that you needn’t always be on the frontline to fight a battle. You could just lend unwavering support to the people actually fighting, and this is something I personally believe in too. I’ve always been there for my friends and family and hence I could identify with this role a lot. Take a look at film sets for example. As the entire crew including spot boys are pivotal for the film to be well made, more than the length of my role I rather look at what my character contributes to the story.
How many films have you worked on till date?
I think about eight films out of which six are in Gujarati and two are in Hindi, including 376D and Jayeshbhai Jordaar.
Which are the six Gujarati films you have worked on so far?
Karsandas Pay & Use, Dhunki, Shubh Aarambh, Sharato Lagu, Colorbaaj. The sixth one that I am working on is tentatively called Prem Prakra, starring Gaurav Paswala with music by Amit Trivedi. This one will release next year.
You play sister to Ranveer in the film Jayeshbhai Jordaar. Isn’t it considered a big no-no at this stage of your career?
As I said, I always look at the quality of the character, even if my presence is for just one scene. During my theatre days, I have worked on and off the stage with equal passion and love. In future, I don’t mind playing a character that just flits in for two minutes as long as she is adding something substantial to the final product.
Which actors do you admire?
Neeraj Kabi. Also Ratna Pathak Shah and Boman Irani, who play my parents in Jayeshbhai Jordaar. Boman sir made sure we were all happy and laughing on set and that too while staying in his character. Ratna ma’am is a delightful conversationalist who makes you feel comfortable in an instant despite her pedigree.
Why aren’t we seeing you in more films?
I honestly am not a very forward when it comes to hunting for roles. I think as my work gets out there, more films will eventually come my way.
How do you approach acting with new directors as opposed to seasoned ones?
I’ve mostly worked with debutant filmmakers in my career and the talents I have collaborated with have been quite sorted as creative individuals.
Which are the directors you wish to work with?
Shoojit Sircar, Anurag Kashyap, Mira Nair and Nandita Das. I would really like to work with some of the stalwarts of the Malayalam film industry. I recently saw C U Soon and was blown away. Fahad Faasil is brilliant.
Why aren’t we seeing you in more glamour based roles?
For now, I want to play roles that add value to the society although I will explore the glamour part too later on. Personally, glamour and fashion is not exactly my cup of tea. I am more excited when I get roles that challenge me enough to conduct a thorough research on them. Being an avid reader, I think that aspect comes in organically. I would prefer staying in my pyjamas and viewing a great film than stepping out all dolled up.
What kind of content do you personally like to consume?
I enjoy everything from a Priyadarshan comedy to something as intellectual as C U Soon. My point in cinema is, even if I play a love interest it shouldn’t be a chip of the same block where I am just present for songs.
A lot of facets of your character are very subtle in 376D, comment!
Something should be left to the viewer’s imagination, as when we create the character with the filmmakers, there are a lot of angles we weave into the individual, but in cinema, many things are better left unsaid for the viewers to discover those layers with the small hints the makers throw in. I decipher Sandhya as a very kind and caring person with an expansive heart.
How tough was it for you to get into Sandhya’s character?
Since I am very similar to her in real life, I didn’t find it that difficult to step into her shoes. Maybe that is why the directors chose me for this role. It was a lot of fun to uncover the hidden depths of my character along with the director duo Gunveen and Robin.
The songs of this film are very soothing too!
I think so but although I haven’t seen the film as yet, I haven’t been able to listen to the complete album.
Doodling is one of your hobbies, how did you develop a taste for the same?
I have been into doodling since childhood, I also was interested in writing, photography, and singing, I have received a Visharad in Sangeet. I was not even pushed into these activities. I have been genuinely a big fan of extracurricular activities since my younger days.
What is your view on OTT as a platform? Do you think that it is the future of Indian cinema?
I think this is absolutely going to a huge part of our consumption pattern in the future. I have been a member of Netflix since almost eight years, so OTT was an inseparable part of my life. Even a brand like Shemaroo, which entered our homes through VCD’s as well as DVD’s but now is a major part of our digital life with ShemarooMe Box Office, has been in my memories since times immemorial. The world becomes a smaller place with the presence of the web.
Which languages do you speak?
I am fluent in Hindi, English and Gujarati. I also know bits and pieces of Japanese that I had picked up in school.
How do you see the Gujarati film industry progressing over the years?
Hellaro is a prime example of how much we have grown, and I believe this is a golden period for Gujarat where its cinema is going to spread its wings and fly high. A lot of fresh and new minds are entering this space, the local audience now sees Gujarati cinema as their primary source of entertainment than Hindi, which is a new development.
What will be your main source of concentration in the coming years- Gujarati or Hindi cinema?
Any story that touches my heart, irrespective of its language, will always be accepted by me. I wish to never be shackled by geography or language and work in as diverse kinds of cinema as possible.