Dia Mirza: Living in a world polarised in its views
Dia Mirza talks about why Kashmir-set drama Kaafir is relevant today
While she has been a vocal social activist off-screen, Dia Mirza's on-screen works have largely been restricted to playing the girl-next-door. As she makes her web debut with Kaafir, the actor takes on her bravest role to date. The Zee 5 show, inspired by a true story, sees her play a Pakistani woman who accidentally crosses the Indian border and is mistaken for a militant. In a chat with mid-day, she explains why the human drama is pivotal in today's times.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Kaafir is based on a true story. Can you shed some light on that?
Bhavani Iyer, who has written Raazi (2018), wrote this story 13 years ago. She met the woman whose story Kaafir was inspired by and the journalist. Often, we don't understand what it is for a human being to live in conflict, or what it is to be labelled a militant and be put behind bars. It's an extraordinary human story. The timing of the story couldn't have been more perfect. We are experiencing a world that is polarised in its views, where prejudices are being reinforced every day.
In your 16-year-long career, Kaafir is your first bold project. Did this decision stem from a need to challenge yourself?
As an artiste, I have always been hungry for a part like this. When I was offered the role of Kainaaz, I felt immense gratitude that I would live a part that resonated so strongly with me. It has not only been written and directed sharply, but also gave me the opportunity to work with actors like Mohit Raina and the child actor [Dishita Jain]. She was extraordinary, so intuitive to every moment.
Did the show help you gain a clearer perspective of the conflict-ridden areas?
Since I do [social work] outside cinema, I have seen reality from a close range — be it the lives of children living in human conflict, or environmental degradation. Telling a story like Kaafir requires empathy and the ability to abandon any kind of reservation. As human beings, we tend to protect ourselves from going into emotional experiences that can cause anguish and pain. Kaafir compels you to face them.
Your production, Mind The Malhotras, is a comedy. How does it feel telling two diverse stories simultaneously?
The OTT platform has opened up a democratic and even-playing field. It has given artistes the opportunity to speak to audiences with honesty and without censorship or the pressure of box office.
What's in the pipeline?
I have signed two assignments and will start filming an ambitious project directed by Nikkhil Advani and written by Bhavani. It will take me to a lighter head space.
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