First role: An MLA’s son in Aaja Nachle (2007)
Standout act: Playing Munna Bhaiya on Mirzapur (2018-present) on Prime Video
As a child, Divyenndu loved it when his parents would ask him to recite a poem or sing for guests. “I would embellish it with some theatrics or other,” says the actor whose role as Munna Bhaiya in the web-series Mirzapur on Prime Video has been a hit. “When people ask when I was bitten by the acting bug, I say that I was born with it,” he says.
This bug kept him involved in extracurricular activities in school and, later, at Kirori Mal College, Delhi, where he pursued a degree in political science. “Those three years made me realise the depth of theatre. I decided to give it my all and joined the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune,” he says. Divyenndu’s next stop was Mumbai. After some struggle, he was cast in Aaja Nachle (2007). “It was a Yash Raj Films production and even though it was an insignificant role, they made me feel special,” he recalls. A few more years of struggle later, he was cast in Pyaar ka Punchnama (2011) to play Nishant “Liquid” Agarwal, a character that became an audience favourite.
David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor (2013) followed, leading many to see him as a rising star. Instead, there was a lull. “I think my real struggle started after these films. In this industry, when one arrives, one tries to consolidate one’s position. I said ‘no’ to big people and big projects. It dawned on me that I have no problem in rejecting the predictable path,” says the Delhi-bred actor, who dropped his second name, Sharma, a while back.
Divyenndu, 37, is aware of the pitfalls of his unconventional approach. “If Mirzapur hadn’t happened to me, I would have ended up as an example of how to wreck your career. I’m glad my instincts paid off,” he says. He will next appear in Mere Desh ki Dharti, Faraz Haider’s forthcoming film about the plight of farmers.
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