Trust Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya to light up with television screens with her infectious smile, grace and unparalleled talent. Being in the industry for 16 years, the actress has impressed all with her acting chops and roles that relate to every heart. Call her Yeh Hai Mohabbatein's affectionate and strong-headed Ishita Bhalla aka Ishima or the simple Vidya from Banoo Main Teri Dulhann, she has left a lasting impression on people of all age groups. Not to forget, Divyanka has won Nach Baliye 8 and has anchored The Voice 3 too. Phew, what a multi-talented person! Hail Woman Power! Not just this, Divyanka has never shied away from taking a stand for women, raise her voice on social issues and puts forth her opinion with clarity.
Today, as we celebrate International Women's Day 2021, PeepingMoon.com got in touch with Divyanka for an interview. Talking to us, the lovely actress shed light on her journey in the television industry. She also spoke about male dominance within the circle and whether men can tolerate strong women sharing the same platform with them.
Excerpts from the interview:
Miss Bhopal to one of TV’s biggest actresses, was your journey in the industry sans obstacles?
I don’t think anybody’s journey is ever sans obstacles. We take birth and the struggle starts and that’s life. In fact, these obstacles make your journey so exciting, eventful and worth remembering. There have been many phases, up and downs, moments when I felt I have taken the wrong decision to become an actor. Sometimes I felt I should go back to Bhopal. There have been periods- days and months of various injuries, pains, heartaches; heartaches when I’m saying, it refers to professional people who do not really abide by rules, respect one’s work and efforts. At times they are rude. That’s how we grow. I’ve become a better person, maybe a better actor because of all these experiences.
From Banoo Main Teri Dulhann to Yeh Hai Mohabbatein, you’ve played characters that have various shades. Do you consciously choose stories?
Yes, I absolutely consciously choose all the projects I do. Of course, there is a variety that comes my way but not all appeal to me. I always want to do something different. Challenges are important and when it comes to daily soaps, monotony seeps in. You tend to get bored doing a certain project for a certain period of time may be months or years at a stretch. So it is important to love and constantly being attracted to what you do. That’s how I choose my characters. Also I like to do things in variety. At the time when I started, I was never aware of how far will I go. I didn’t know whether I will be able to do comedy or not. I wasn’t sure whether I will be able to do serious stuff like Adaalat or Ssshhhh...Koi Hai. I didn’t know whether I’ll be able to dance on stage for Nach Baliye 8, anchor for The Voice 3 or Crime Patrol Women Against Crime for that sake, I was never sure of how far I can go. But I tried. I never said no to new projects that came my way. Sometimes I say only if they don't appeal to me. But if they are new and exciting, giving me an adrenaline rush then I choose them. That brings a variety to my work profile.
Being in the industry for many years, have you ever experience the ills of patriarchy?
Yes, we do see patriarchy in bits and pieces. But I think it is more of the normal social status of men vs women in India. There are certain norms through which a woman is gazed. People want women to work in a particular manner or behave in a certain way. These expectations continue in our industry. Women need to be excellent in their work. One has to constantly work really hard towards it. It is challenging but again it is fun. This patriarchy will go away hopefully someday once things normalise and equalise in our society as well.
Men can’t tolerate strong women- myth or fact
Men may be able to tolerate strong women but it is just a matter of time and habit. They are not used to seeing strong women. It may change very soon.
If you were given a chance, what new policies would you frame for women in the industry?
Equal pay for men and women technicians. There is clearly a bias when it comes to the payment structures of hairdressers and makeup artists. I think even women accept it because they feel they can’t really change society. This can change consciously and constantly.
You are the face of change in Indian television. What are the changes you want to bring with your shows?
On Indian television, a woman’s coyness, her submissiveness, her being a good bahu image is celebrated constantly. I think with time that needs to go. These are false notions. Being perfect as a bahu is not really how a woman should be looked at. Homemakers, women working from home and also those who go outside to work should be given equal respect. In our TV shows, even housewives, who are also doing a job, aren't respected. There are men and women working in kitchens and households, but their equal participation isn’t shown. That is something that should start happening now.
Are women finally getting their dues in terms of paycheques?
In the TV industry, women do get fat paycheques depending on how important they are for the show. But in films, I’m not sure. I’ve never been a part of films but I’ve heard there is a bias. But yes, things have improved on TV.