‘As artists, we want to work with like-minded people’

Deabarati Palit Singh
Friday, 22 June 2018

Dia Mirza got busy with her production house, but at many levels, felt helpless with the kind of work she was being offered and then Sanju happened

We last saw the beautiful Dia Mirza on the big screen in Love Breakups Zindagi, post which she took a long break. The actress now is gearing up for her comeback, playing a pivotal role in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju, based on the life of actor-producer Sanjay Dutt. Dia, who is playing the role of Manyata Dutt, Sanjay’s wife, sounds excited to reunite with Rajkumar Hirani with whom she has worked in Lage Raho Munna Bhai. “This is the third time I am getting a credit in his films,” she says with a smile. 

The Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge and Tumsa Nahin Dekha actress will share screen space with Ranbir Kapoor (who plays the title role), Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Anushka Sharma and others in Sanju. 

While the 2011 film Love Breakups Zindagi was her own production, the 2016 film Salaam Mumbai in which Dia worked was an Indo-Iranian co-production. The reason she stayed away from mainstream Bollywood films was because she wanted to be a part of quality cinema. 

“I wanted to work with credible filmmakers, and be a part of films which will reach the audience. As we mature and gain experience, our priorities change. It’s true that I was also running my production house, but while I was doing everything else, my priorities in acting never shifted. However, at many levels, I felt helpless with the kind of work I was being offered. I felt that maybe taking a step back for a while and re-channelising my efforts would lead to the kind of work I believed in and wanted to be a part of,” says the pretty actress.  

It took almost four-and-a-half years for such a project to come her way. “I was excited when Raju Hirani called and offered me the role,” she says adding that after having done the film and spending a year and a half with the team, she realised that she made a good decision. “As artists, we want to work with like-minded people and work in an environment where you will feel safe and respected. I experienced all this and more,” she adds. 

Not just Sanjay, but his wife too was embroiled in controversies. Before marrying the actor, Manyata had done an item number in Prakash Jha’s hit film Gangaajal and also acted in Mere Baap Pehle Aap. Ask Dia how much research did she have to do and how much did the team help her to understand the character and she says, “There is always a desire to understand the emotional arc of the character. It specially holds true when the person is real and what they have gone through is actual. The main priority was to understand the entire emotional journey and circumstances, and acquire the ability to empathise with that situation and express it honestly in front of the camera.” Dia adds that Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi had made it a lot more easier for her because they had done detailed research on every aspect of the story. 

“I also went back to that phase of Manyata’s life to observe her body language, how she dressed etc. That said, the costume and make-up department also did a great job,” quips Dia. Ask the actress, whether there were any conflicts in her mind during the shooting of the film which she took home and she says, “I would always come back home thinking, ‘I have no idea how to deal with such tough situations that life throws at you. It really tests the strength of an individual. I just came away every day feeling amazed by her (Manyata). She grappled with the situation  and was such a fierce source of strength and support and continues to do so,” says Dia. 

In the trailer, in one of the scenes, Ranbir tells that he has slept with around 350 women while Dia’s character looks on. How did she react to that scene? “When you watch the film, you will realise that my character responds with an unflinching reaction, with a half-smile-half-annoying look. In my character’s mind, none of this matters, what matters is that they stand by each other. She knows the truth and that matters the most,” says Dia adding, “Every single man in this country would have a serious complex if they know this and they would want to live half of his life. In our modest country, if a person has two-four relationships, we would raise eyebrows. To say something like this would be crazy. Every time Abhijat and Raju would come back after listening to Sanju’s story, they would check facts because it was too unreal to be true.” 

Dia, who has worked with Sanjay in films like Parineeta, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Shootout at Lokhandwala, says that there are several moments in the film which will leave the audience thinking, ‘Is this true’? Does it happen to a person? That’s why it intrigued the makers so much and they had to tell the story. It’s crazier than fiction in so many ways.” 

The actress says that her production house will soon start working on a web series and they have also worked on three scripts, writing them for more than two-and-a-half years. “We will start choosing the cast for the projects soon,” Dia says before heading to another interview to promote Sanju, which is releasing on June 29. 

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