Divinaa Thackur, an actress who made her Bollywood debut with the film Veeram, was much praised for her performance. The actress, in the film, was playing the role of Kuttimani.
Veeram is an Indian historical drama based on William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth and Divina portrayed the role of Lady Macbeth. She says that she feels great after playing the role, because in India only Tabu has played that role before. The film was written and directed by Jayaraj.
We interviewed the actress and tried to know about her thoughts.
How does it feel to make your big screen debut with such a grand film?
-> It feels great! It feels like a perfect package of a debut for me, it has all the elements in it. I play Lady Macbeth in the film and it has JayRaj Sir as a director he not just a director but a critically acclaimed director internationally nationally both. Then I have DOP S. Kumar sir as he is a very senior Director of Photography in Malayalam. It has Kunal Kapoor. What else you ask for? He is such a handsome man with great acting skills. Then we have a team from Hollywood. We had Trefor Proud as a makeup artist. He is an Oscar winner for Gladiator. Then we have Allan Poppleton, who had done action choreography in the movie. He has done action choreography for Spartacus and Avatar. So, I am working with such great people now it feels a great package of the debut. As we have people from Bollywood, Hollywood, Tollywood and not only that they are so experienced in the field they are. I feel blessed working with them, as I am the only not so experienced person on the set.
How did you bag Veeram? Tell us about your experience when you are auditioning for films?
-> I give lots of auditions, even now. I think as an actor you should keep giving auditions. Especially, if you are not working on the films back to back that’s the different story. But, acting is again an art, how you paint, how you dance- Acting is also an art. So, you need to polish your art every day. If you are not polishing your art, then you will become like something in the corner. So, that’s the reason I go for the auditions every day. I used to go for commercial auditions, T.V auditions, short films, any auditions you name it I will just go. I believe you have a camera, a script, lights and it’s free of cost. You just have to go there and perform. So, Meera who is the casting girl of the company, I gave my auditions to her. She happens to show my tape to the director (JayRaj Sir). So, JayRaj Sir said, “Call this girl, she is good”. Then I met Sir we did a look test, a couple of readings and then he said so you will be playing Kuttimani i.e. a role of Lady Macbeth.
So, tell us something more about your character in the film?
-> So, Kuttimani is my character name which is Lady Macbeth and I think Lady Macbeth is one of the most inspired characters for an actor to perform. I feel really blessed because after Tabu in Bollywood I played Lady Macbeth in this country which feels great. So, Kuttimani has amazing layers to her as a character. She is more of a masculine as she suppresses things like motherhood and compassion, she is like that kind of woman. So, that’s very challenging as Kuttimani is more of a beautiful looking woman as she is hot, glamorous but she is not like a woman. So, this is Kuttimani which has different layers to her. She is not Black and White but she has a lot of gray shades. So, that’s the character Kuttimani (Lady Macbeth).
Can you tell us how did you prepare for this role? Did you refer the original Macbeth from Willams Shakespear for reference?
-> So the first I did was I read Macbeth the original play. Then I watched movies based on the play Macbeth. From all of them, Throne of Blood is my favorite. I love that I think that is the only best adaptation of the Macbeth when it comes to filmmaking. After I watched all these films, I have created a diary for myself in that I used to write my assumptions and imagination of how Kuttimani would be? So, I want to give her the blend of Kuttimani which is from Malayalam history and Lady Macbeth. So, I used to think like her like what kind of music she likes, what kind of people she likes around her, how she walks, how she talks, how she eats, what she eats, what she thinks. So, what I did I jotted down all the points in that diary and I bring that diary every day. I wanted to get that character in me. I have to put on weight for this character. I have to put on 10kgs of weight as she is bulbaceously hot and I am like very skinny. So, first thing sir told me that, You have to put on some weight madam because she is not skinny as you and I am like Ok. So, that was the another thing I did and the character brought in to me so much as in real life I am very positive, very outspoken, very talkative, very loving and very compassionate.But she is completely opposite to me. Like Kuttimani is completely opposite to Divina Thakur like we are two different poles. So, the character got into me so much that there are times that when I come back to my room I just cry for hours. I couldn’t find that what is happening to me because I am really got into it.
Did you improvise your own character i.e. Kuttimani?
-> As an actor I believe a lot in improvisation. I like to read as I told you that I maintain a dairy which I read every day because that character gets into your mind and that’s the point we start acting. It’s not like that you have your lines and you speak it in front of the camera that is not acting. Acting is when you actually gets into a character and then you know your lines and then you improvise it. If you watch the trailer there is a tiny shot where my eyes speak and it has to look real and that is acting and it only comes if you are into the character and that’s what I believe in. I do my lines thoroughly before the shoot it is like subconsciously fed in my mind I am not conscious about my lines while I am shooting and I am reading about the character every day so I become that. So what you will see in the movie is more of an improvised Kuttimani. So, how we are talking right now we can only talk like this once next time it will be different so that moment you live is only for once. So whenever I give my take I make sure I give that in one take because I feel that one moment can only be live once so that’s what I believe in.
As we know this movie is shot in three languages and you just said that a moment can be live once so is it difficult for you to shoot the same scene three times and then to in different languages? Is Language a barrier for you?
-> So when you look at the lines, English lines have more of drama because it is written by Shakespear and when you compare it to Malayalam lines, Malayalam lines are quite shorter. So, if you have five lines in English there will be two lines in Malayalam so this is the difference. When you look into English lines there is more of drama so it is very light performing it in English as there are lines like “ fill my breast with poison and not blood” there are so much of details when it comes to English. It was not challenging because like I said every language had a different parameter and different feel to it so Malayalam was short Hindi was slightly longer and English was a longest. So I would start my scene in Malayalam followed by English and then Hindi. All the scene has shot simultaneously. I really like challenges and doing a film in Malayalam is quite challenging as I never spoke Malayalam before. You talk in English and Hindi every day but if you are given a foreign language not an accent but a language like french or german so it’s a kinda challenge for me. But I felt very lucky that I get to speak a language and that too playing Lady Macbeth. So, that’s like a different level only I really loved it. As I look upon the actress like Meryl Streep and she has so done many accents so I always want to do what she has done. Speaking Malayalam was very exciting I really liked it.
Who is your current role model in this world of cinema?
-> In cinema world I really look up to Meryl Streep I really admire her work and If we talk about young lot Emma Stone. I love her, she is so good in what she is doing. So, Meryl Streep and Emma Stone are two ladies I look up to as they are brilliant in their own ways.
How was your experience working with Kunal Kapoor in the film?
-> I was very comfortable working with him before the movie we met a couple of times for readings or cup of coffee so you know we break the ice. So, it is great working with Kunal. I think he is very down to earth you don’t feel like you are sitting with Kunal Kapoor he is always on his phone doing something or the other like games. He is very sweet and humble person. Very few people know this I mean we have a common person who is the 20-year-old guy and he is an orphan and Kunal found him on the sets at Film City where he was shooting for one of his films. He was selling chai (tea) this guy when he was hardly five years old.He happens to talk to this child and he came to know he is an orphan he took care of him for 15 years. Kunal enrolled him in a hostel and paid his wages for education and because of Kunal now he is independent and can speak really good English and he says that Kunal is his Godfather. So, Kunal is a lot into charity and not into fake charity for publicity but a genuine one he does it from the heart.
What is your message for girls who are seeking out to be an actress?
-> There is no glamor when you get films or you get into the industry. But it takes a lot of hard work. I just want to convey one message and I genuinely feel it because I have seen people who look pretty, beautiful, handsome thinking of getting into acting. Acting is not that, acting is a form of art. Acting demands a lot it demands time, hard work, patience. But if you can give all of it and really passionate about being an actor then give it a try go give auditions meet people. Just keep your blinkers on and you will get it someday. But the thing is you have to be passionate about it. You can’t just opt out acting because you are pretty or beautiful but acting is way beyond that As Meryl Streep says – “The first thing I have to accept is I don’t have to look pretty I need to act”.
After Veeram, what’s next in your pipeline?
-> Simultaneously my Balaji web series is releasing and my character in the web series is opposite to my character in Veeram. I have to play a teen girl and that is another challenge for me as I am not a typical girl I am kinda Tom-Boy. Rosy is my name in the web series and she wears short clothes and talks like a typical girl like Kareena Kapoor played in K3G. So, that’s the another challenge for me as she is like a cute bubbly girl in college. So now I have to get the characteristics of that character like I have to get that body language as she always has two girlfriends around like Kareena has. I also did one short film with Rajshree productions with Sooraj Bharjatiya Sir.