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Thursday, January 21, 2021

‘The 20-year-old Bulbbul is a lot like me: clumsy and indecisive’

Tripti Dimri on trying to move on from the role that brought her acclaim

Written by Alaka Sahani | New Delhi | Updated: December 20, 2020 3:33:26 pm
Bulbbul is a fablesque drama, set in early 20th-century Bengal. Portraying two stages of Bulbbul’s life

First Role: Playing Sita’s friend as a child during Ramlila in Vasant Vihar, Delhi, where her brother was cast as Sita

Standout act: Playing the lead in Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul, that released on Netflix in June this year

Have you come out of the character of Bulbbul yet? Tripti Dimri, 26, has fielded this question several times since Anvita Dutt’s compelling directorial debut Bulbbul premiered on Netflix on June 24. Wrapped in resplendent Banarasis and an air of enigma, Dimri owned the titular lead with ease. It’s not easy to outgrow such a powerful character, but Dimri has tried her best.

Bulbbul is a fablesque drama, set in early 20th-century Bengal. Portraying two stages of Bulbbul’s life — when she is a fidgety 20-year-old, and her transformation into the self-assured head of the household at 25 — was a challenge as Dimri had to inhabit two different characters. “The 20-year-old Bulbbul is a lot like me: clumsy and indecisive. But the other Bulbbul is something else altogether; she doesn’t even blink much,” says Dimri.

Her two-month preparation involved attending extensive workshops. The most useful tip to play the older Bulbbul came from acting coach Atul Mongia, who suggested “focussing on breathing”. To ease the pressure on her, before rolling the camera, Dutt would allow Dimri to take her position and keep her eyes shut till she was ready. Then, for a crucial scene, as she sat on the spacious staircase of Rajbari Bawali on the outskirts of Kolkata, fanning herself with a peacock-father fan, a classical vocalist performing nearby, Dimri realised she had finally managed to get into Bulbbul’s skin. “That’s when I thought I’ve got it,” she recalls. That scene establishes Bulbbul’s authority in the zamindar household even as certain forces continue to undermine her position.

Dimri, whose family is originally from Uttarakhand, grew up in Delhi. She had been an introvert as a child, but in college, she realised that she would have to overcome her shyness. That’s when she started modelling, eventually pushing herself to audition for what was to become her film debut, Poster Boys (2017).

Acting built her confidence and Dimri hoped to make heads turn with her next film, Sajid Ali’s Laila Majnu (2018), a modern-day interpretation of the classic tale of doomed lovers. However, the film sank at the box office. Has Bulbbul given her the instant recall she had craved? The mask is a dampener but “recently, I was doing a shoot in a restaurant where people knew me,” she says.

January marks a new beginning for Dimri, who is in the process of finalising her next project. The actor, who used to live in shared accommodation, will shift to a rented apartment next month. “My family now has no excuse but to visit me every month,” she says, with a laugh.

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