With famous grandparents like Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt, it was natural for Gouri Dutt to discover that she too has the ‘creative bug’ inside her, finds Deepali Dhingra
When Gouri Dutt arrived in Mumbai five years ago from Pune, the 20-year-old interior designer joined Prithvi Theatre as a volunteer — doing bit roles in plays, handling backstage work, assisting in production and designing posters. It was only a year or so later, that her colleagues came to know that she is the granddaughter of the legendary filmmaker and actor Guru Dutt and songstress Geeta Dutt. “They were quite surprised,” smiles Gouri. Five years later, she made her directorial debut with the play Outsider, that was staged as part of the Hindi Ananda Festival at NCPA yesterday.
Gouri Dutt’s first play, Outsider, is an adaptation of Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
Growing up in Pune, young Gouri was always surrounded by movies. Coming to Mumbai and becoming part of the acting world would seem like an obvious choice. But not before she made a slight detour towards interior designing. “I am a certified interior designer but somehow, a nine-to-five job was not working out for me,” she recalls. The ‘keeda’ of doing something creative drove her to come and try her luck here. “Films are what I grew up with, but theatre was new and I wanted to see what it was all about,” she says.
A still from the play
On an candid note, Gouri adds that she had not thought she would enjoy theatre so much. “I just thought I would act in one play and that would be it, but working with theatre veterans such as Manav Kaul, who I consider my mentor, changed my life,” she says. The 25-year-old has, since then, acted in a couple of plays and done roles in movies such as Peddlers and Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming Ugly. “They are not major roles but everyone has to start somewhere,” she smiles.
It’s impossible to speak to Gouri and not mention her famous grandparents. Unfortunately, she could never meet them as both of them passed away before she was born. When she was growing up, Gouri says that she did not realise the importance of their legacy. “For me, they were just my grandparents. It’s only later that I discovered him as an actor and filmmaker,” she says. And now, that she herself is part of the creative process, she understands the complex techniques that the filmmaker was known for. “One of the major things that strikes me now is that he could do those things technically, that we sometimes can’t achieve with the technology available today,” she says.
Comparisons with her grandparents is something Gouri has learnt to take in her stride. “Initially, I would get bogged down by them, but then I realised, that it’s only natural for people to compare,” she says. Not wanting to limit herself, now that she’s found her calling, Gouri says she is open to all creative pursuits. “I want to act and I want to direct. I want to be all over the place,” she laughs. Well, who can blame her? Just look at her legacy!