Divya Dutta’s Jhalki is based on the issue of child labour and human trafficking. In this exclusive conversation, the actor talks about her upcoming film Jhalki and how her life has changed after winning the coveted National Award.
Excerpts from a conversation:
Jhalki looks like a gripping tale. What made you choose the film?
The script and the intent of the film is very important for me. Brahma came to me with the script saying this is the film he wants to make. Also, I loved the documentaries he had made earlier on Pancham Da (RD Burman) and Jagjit Singh.
When he came to narrate the script, he had the poster which instantly attracted me to it. I am somebody who follows her gut feeling. I just know I will have a blast. This film is extremely relevant and something that is needed at this point. It is the most enduring film that you will see through the eyes of a child. Also, it is such a simply told film. There is no drama. When you will watch it, you will feel it is happening around you, which makes it very impactful. That’s why I agreed to do the film.
Also, it is important to have good actors around because I am one of those who react to their co-actors. With Sanjay and Tannishtha, I had a blast.
How was it to work with the child actors?
Normally when you work with kids, they might not be good with lines but they are amazing in giving impromptu reactions. What was excellent about Aarti was that she was so consistent with her character Jhalki’s dialect. She knew her dialogues by heart. She had this raw energy to do something else on the sets. So, that was a rare combo that surprised me.
It is such a hard-hitting subject. And this continues to be a reality. Do you think the country needs to get better for children in every way?
There is a lot to be desired in the system in general, especially when it comes to kids. I think the visual medium helps in bringing the point home. It says that for a better future, things have to be done today. We have had a normal childhood but some kids are bread earners of the house. They don’t know what childhood is. They live with the trauma of going away or being separated from their families. So, if we sensitise people to stop, look around and bring about a change in one life or save a life, the job is done. I feel you have to take it upon yourself. We did a bit by making a film but the job is not done here. If I am in a position to change something, I rather do it.
I was fortunate to have watched the documentary The Price of Free with Kailash Sathyarthi. I cannot express or ever forget the expression on the kid’s face when he was reunited with his family. They did not know how to react to each other. It was not normal.
Such films mostly get limited to film festivals. Does this make you sad?
There is a film called Boot Polish. It became a cult film, followed by many other movies. They (kid’s movies) come in phases but what you need is the visibility for people to not take it as a kid’s film but a regular film that can be watched with the family. In recent times, there have been films like that and Jhalki is another film in the same league.
You recently won the National Award for Best Supporting Actress. Has life changed because of the honour?
Life goes on but what changed for me after winning the National Award is the fact that I am no more considered an ‘underrated actor.’ I think people were happier than I was for myself. As an actor, you remain the same.