An actor, producer and a conservationist, Dia Mirza wears many hats. With an acting career spanning 53 films, she shot to fame with the success of her debut movie Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein opposite R Madhavan, in 2001.
Born in a creative family, the Paanch Adhyay girl is categorically against the idea of censorship. She believes that fame has not spoiled her and that the star system needs to be less prominent for young actors to get their due. Earlier, the on-screen Kaveri made her directorial debut with a film on tiger and nature conservation in the voices of children.
Intelligent and incisive, Dia Mirza opens up with Trujetter about her chequered film journey.
Dia The Producer
Challenges of being a producer
The job of an actor is to perform only a specific character, but as a producer one has to perform many roles! Beginning with the script to facilitating the entire filmmaking and release process and simultaneously managing the economics of the film. Being a producer gives me the satisfaction of essaying collective vision. The biggest challenge is managing egos and finances, while trying to ensure one remains true to the intent and purpose of a film.
Lessons from Bobby Jasoos
That good intention is always triumphant!
Censorship in films
Film censorship validates the opinion that film-makers and audiences do not have the maturity to exercise free choice responsibly. Censorship strips film-makers of their creative freedom. We have a film certification board that determines certification of films. When a film is certified based on the global parameters of certification, the film-makers and audiences must be respected for their maturity and intelligence to determine what content they believe is appropriate.
Regional cinema vs. Bollywood
Bollywood is struggling to make films economically viable. The cost of exhibition is high, cost of making is also high with absolutely no incentives or benefits for the industry, especially due to misplaced perception that the industry is rich. Whereas, regional films are benefitted by tax rebates, compulsory show timings and reduced price on tickets. All of this combined with the quality of story telling that regional films are delivering is making it a winning situation for regional cinema.
Dia The Actor
Was becoming an actress your dream from day one?
I was born into a very creative environment. Both my parents were artists. My father amongst many things believed in the power of creativity and encouraged a model of education that stimulated the imagination and spirit of enquiry. At my school, emphasis was given to participate in the performing arts. I revelled in my time on stage as a child. I have always loved the performing arts, but growing up, I never consciously aspired to be an actor. Looking back now I see all the signs, but perhaps because I belonged to a world that was so far removed from film-making, it never occurred to me that I could pursue a career in film.
What is an important quality for an actor?
An actor must be able to surrender to the process of filmmaking completely and have an understanding of the process. Acting on stage is very different from acting for the camera. The perspective widens when an individual understands the approach holistically. It improves one’s ability to study the character in context to narrative. Actors will only be as good as the film.
You will be seen next in Iranian film Salaam Mumbai. How was the experience?
It was a truly unique experience because it was my first English speaking part; their style of story telling is very different from ours. The way the scenes are staged, the meter of performance is very honest and organic in its approach. While we tend to heighten experiences, they choose to underplay them.
How important are critics for you?
It depends on the critic! Constructive critique is always welcome and they play a big part in influencing audience choice.
’Real Talent is not getting its due’. What’s your take on it?
It really depends on what ‘due’ means. Talented actors don’t always frontline projects because there is a star system in place that is determined by the box office revenue that certain actors deliver. This exists world over. What remains unfortunate in our system is that good actors don’t get the attention or respect that must be accorded to them whether or not they frontline films. That is the ‘due’ they don’t get.
Has fame changed you as a person?
Yes and no. I believe I have managed to remain grounded and unspoilt, I live a very simple life, managing my time and expectations just as anyone else my age would. Fame has certainly made me a stronger, and a far more motivated individual. Your television debut show, Ganga-The soul of India continues to get rave reviews.
Would you continue to experiment with this medium?
The feedback has been incredibly gratifying, especially because the show is so removed from the regular mainstream format, it explores aspects of life that I am personally so connected to. I strongly believe in Baba Dioum’s quote, “In the end we will conserve only that what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”
Film, television, radio and other platforms can play a part in helping people to learn to love.
Dia The Conservationist
Why did you direct the Kids for Tigers film?
I really wanted to convey the message of Sanctuary Asia ‘Kids For Tigers’ programme. We must learn to live in harmony with nature and that all life is connected. The ‘tiger’ is the metaphor for all life. Polluting our natural resources will eventually harm everyone on earth.
Written by : Jaideep Pandey