Embracing self-love is among many things that have changed for actor Tripti Dimri after she played a woman who grows from innocence to strength in the recently released Bulbbul, in which her performance soars like the bird the film draws its title from.
Set in Bengal of the late 19th century, the Netflix film follows a young girl’s journey from innocence to strength as the legend of a witch casts a shadow over her world.
The 26-year-old actor said she initially felt suffocated playing the younger Bulbbul as she herself was a “people pleaser”.
“My character was always thinking about others and what others think about her, and that was something I wanted to change about myself. I used to do that without even knowing it. I used to be a people pleaser, always have a smile on my face,” Dimri told PTI over a Zoom call.
That was the first thing Atul Mongia, her acting coach for the film also noticed.
“He said ‘Why are you smiling so much? You don’t have to impress me’. That’s when I realised that by not trusting ourselves, by giving importance to other people, we give them power to rule our lives. I have started to respect myself and my decisions a little more, love myself a little more because I think self love is the most important form of love.” The actor, who hails from Uttarakhand, said there were a lot of restrictions on her when she used to live with her family in Delhi.
“The society in which we live in Delhi is conservative. My sister still does not go out post 7 in the night. Even now when I go back home, I don’t go out post 8 or 9 pm. People believe we aren’t safe because we are girls. They think because a woman is out at night on her own, they have a right to harass her as it is their time to be out and about,” she said.
Dimri admitted she too used to harbour this mentality, but it changed after she moved to Mumbai for work.“When I was living with those people, my thinking was also like that. Even after moving to Mumbai, I used to follow that. But then I realised it’s not our fault.”
The actor, who is receiving rave reviews for her performance in the film from fans, critics as well as people within the industry, credits director Anvita Dutt whom she “followed blindly” from day one. Bulbbul marks the feature directorial debut of lyricist-dialogue writer Dutt, who has worked on films like Bachna Ae Haseeno, Dostana, Patiala House and Queen.
“From day one she placed her trust in me and I did the same. It’s really important for an actor to be in sync with the vision of the director and writer,” said Dimri. The actor said she did a lot of workshops and had a two months to prepare for the part before they started shooting in February 2019.
“Prepping for any character is the most important thing because if you don’t know how she walks, talks or thinks, you can’t do justice to it. For me, it was difficult to enter the headspace of the other Bulbbul who is very calm and quiet because she as a person is complete in herself.” The term “complete” is how Dutt described the character, said Dimri, who has previously worked in Laila Majnu and Poster Boyz.
“She does not need a soulmate. Atul Mongia and Anvita asked me to just focus on myself. They said, ‘Just believe that you are a powerful creature’ and that’s what worked.” Dutt said she wrote the script of the film, produced by actor Anushka Sharma and her brother Karnesh Ssharma’s Clean Slate Filmz, years ago and the project could never have taken flight if not for Dimri.
“One day, I told Tripti that how could I have made Bulbbul those many years ago because she was in the 8th standard when I wrote the film. I had to wait for this girl. So the universe said ‘Hang on, you want to make the film but she is only 13. You have to wait for her to grow up, finish college and decide to become an actor and come to Bombay and audition for it’,” the director recalled. “She is brilliant in the film. You cannot take your eyes off her. And she worked so hard for it,” Dutt added.
Even before Bulbbul transforms into an enigmatic matriarch of the ‘haveli’ after being abandoned by her husband (Rahul Bose), the character has a mind of her own, Dimri said.
“The 20-year-old one may come across as underconfident but she was already strong. It takes a strong person like her to keep her desires and wants under the carpet just to make other people happy. I drew inspiration from my mother for that portion because I’ve seen her sacrifice so much for us. We’ve seen our mothers and grandmothers do that. They have lived their lives for the family,” she said.
Overwhelmed with the praise coming her way, Dimri said the sad part was that all this will end in a while as the movie is out.
“Earlier there was a wait for the film, people were talking about it. Now, after a point they will stop. I’m happy that people are liking our work. I’m really happy for all of us.” Asked about her future projects, the actor quipped, “Right now, I’m just reading comments on Twitter and feeling happy about it.” Also starring Avinash Tiwary, Paoli Dam and Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Bulbbul started streaming from June 24.
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