Dia Mirza was 19-year-old when she made her big Bollywood debut in ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’, opposite R Madhavan. The young actress, who did not have any prior aspirations of becoming a Bollywood actress, went on to do films like, ‘Deewanapan’, ‘Parineeta’, ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’, ‘Dus’, ‘Sanju’, ‘Thappad’ and others.
Today, on the occasion of her birthday, ETimes got in touch with her for an exclusive interview where she opened up about being a movie buff, her films, and her journey in Bollywood so far. Excerpts…
You recently completed 19 glorious years in Bollywood. How did that happen?
Interestingly, it happened within the same year (2000) of me winning Miss Asia Pacific International. I had started getting offers of films while I was Miss India. I was turning them all down because I was preparing for the international contest.
Mr Anupam Kher met my parents and convinced them that Bollywood is not a big bad world. He told them that there are good and kind human beings there too. I think my parents were just petrified that they did not know anybody from the industry and that I would be all alone. It is the same kind of trepidation that I think any parents would have. Finally, Anupam sir convinced my parents and they accepted. I moved to Bombay in 2001. And before the end of the year, I already had three releases. It was a roller-coaster year.
How was your experience shooting for a film?
It was amazing. I was filming for four films. It was really hard work. I was travelling from one film’s set to another, jumping flights to promote a film and then coming back to shoot for another. All this set me up for life. After that, everything I did felt very easy. A lot was going on.
The first film that I signed was ‘Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein’, my second film was with Salman Khan and the third with Arjun Rampal, then the fourth was with Vivek Oberoi. I worked with some of the best producers in the country. And tragically, all those films bombed. Yes, ‘Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein’ went on to become a cult film.
What was your parents’ reaction after the release of your films?
My parents were just stunned. Everything just kept happening. They couldn’t believe that their baby had found her own space. My mother realised how emotionally daunting this can be and that I needed her support. She was shuttling between Hyderabad and Mumbai. I was 21-year-old when I lost my father. It was a very hard blow for me. I remember the moment when my father felt the proudest about what I was doing. He visited me in Mumbai to spend time with me and he stopped outside the front door of my house that I had bought when I was all of 19. He saw his name on the nameplate of the door and that is when it sort of hit.
How has your journey been in the industry so far?
I had to give myself some hard grinding halts because I wasn’t raised to be competitive or to be a part of a group. Every time I felt overwhelmed with what was happening around me, I took a step back and internalized what to do next and how to move forward. And both the times that I did this, it really helped me tremendously.
The first time I did it, I decided to start my production company and focus on making films. It was fantastic because it allowed me to learn the nuance of filmmaking and I realised how passionate I was towards the craft of storytelling.
The second time I did was when I realised the kind of films I wanted to do weren’t coming my way and because of the setbacks that some of the films failing had caused in my career, I tended to find whatever was the best. I was basically doing whatever made the best sense at the time. I realised I should offer more so I took a step back, I took a break. I took acting workshops and spent a lot of time on the ground and interacting with people. I do know that it made a difference to my craft and my ability to understand and respond to the characters.
Were you a movie buff during your childhood?
I absolutely loved the movies. My naani (maternal grandmother) was actually a true movie buff. She would complete all her house chores and on Sundays, she would go to the cinema house and watch a movie. When I was growing up, my mother would tell me about my grandma and she would make it a point to watch films.
I grew up watching classic black and white movies, and films at Hyderabad Children’s film festivals. So I was exposed to a variety of cinema. I started watching the commercial cinema when I was 13 or 14 with my friends. We watched films like, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!’, ‘Rangeela’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’. I used to come back from films and dance on Sridevi‘s ‘Mere Haatho Mein Nau Nau Chudiya Hai’ and all of Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla songs. I used to entertain our staff with my dance on Bollywood numbers. My big dream as a child was to dance on a stage. I never imagined that I would be dancing on the screen.
You are an actor, a producer, a social activist, environmentalist… What’s next on your bucket list?
I would say, more of all of this. I really consider it my privilege for having this opportunity to use my voice and advocate for positive change. If I had to count my biggest accomplishments in the past 20 years, it would be this platform where it all started. I have done my best to continue to use that to make a difference.
Source From : Times Of India