Simplicity is her middle name. Actor, producer, director and mother, the 36-year-old, Divya Khosla Kumar still has the girl-next-door charm. Dressed in a red outfit, the Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo actress visited Sakal Times office recently and she charmed us with her innocent laughter and candid answers.
Divya, who features in a short film titled Bulbul which released on December 7 on YouTube, was in the city to for Smile Foundation’s event where the Yaariyan director turned Santa for the foundation’s children. Currently, she is working on the script for her next film, and is also open to acting. The Sanam Re maker, who is married to Bhushan Kumar — the chairman and managing director of T-Series, tells us more about her projects, motherhood and how Bollywood has changed for the better. Excerpts:
From being a model to an actor, an ad filmmaker, a director — how would you describe your journey?
I came to Mumbai as a newcomer and whenever you come to a new city or enter a new industry, the only way to go about it is to start from scratch. I had no know idea about Bollywood, so my journey has been full of learning and growth. But as a creative person, I have still more to learn.
You have often said that filmmaking is not a cakewalk. Why do you say so?
There are times and situations, during the process of filmmaking, which are not favourable. On certain days, while you are shooting, the weather suddenly changes and you have to sit and wait for it to turn alright, while the production money just gets wasted. That said, as a director and captain of the ship, I have to ensure that everything is in sync and properly organised. If you don’t plan things properly, everything can go haywire — the budget can go for a toss, the shots may not turn out as you have visualised, so there is a lot of mental pressure involved in filmmaking. It is a tough job.
Which do you enjoy most — acting or direction?
It is very difficult for me to choose because direction is something that has given me an identity. Even before Yaariyan, which was my first film as a director, I had shot a lot TV commercials and music videos. But it was only after Yaariyan release and the appreciation it received that I gained recognition. Having said that I enjoy acting as well.
What are the experiences of motherhood that you bring to your work?
As a mother, you become more patient and begin to learn a lot about others, just the way you learn about your baby. It is no more just about you, yourself but more about others. Even as a director, you have to make sure that everybody in your team is fine. I think your ego takes a backseat and you feel more responsible towards others.
Motherhood teaches you a lot which cannot be described in words. Before you become a mother, you doubt your capabilities and wonder whether you’ll be able to strike a balance between work and family, but it all worked out fine for me. Motherhood is god’s way of balancing things in a woman’s life. Even when I was nine months pregnant and soon after childbirth, I was working for Yaariyan. I believe that every woman must work and stand on her feet, and that’s how she earns respect from her family.
With the increasing number of woman filmmakers and the sudden surge of strong female-oriented characters on screen, Bollywood seems more progressive now. Do you agree?
The audience today enjoys content-driven cinema — it is no more just about big stars. Also, it is great to see women venturing into direction which was once a male dominated industry. That said, I have never faced any bias for being a female director — none of my technicians have shown any kind of discrimination because of my gender. Women directors bring a different approach to films and they are also good planners.
Coming to strong female characters, suddenly there has been a nice change. Earlier, the limelight was on male actors, but now a lot of women-centric films are being made. I guess the change is happening because the audience is appreciating that kind of cinema. Also, in a way it is empowering women. The industry has turned for the better.
How do you define fashion?
I try to keep it simple and comfortable and I don’t like going overboard. I feel there should be only one statement piece whether it is your outfit or your jewellery or footwear.