Bollywood actress Dipannita Sharma is best known for her roles in movies like 16 December and Ladies vs Ricky Behl. She recently won the first Best Actress Award at the Love International Film Festival in the United States for her Assamese debut Rainbow Fields. She speaks to Guardian 20 about her recent win, and reflects on the positive changes that have come about in the Hindi film industry over the past two decades.
Q. You won the best actress award at the third Love International Film Festival in the United States, for your role in the Assamese movie Rainbow Fields. How does that feel?
A. I’m just happy and grateful that my decision to do a feature film in my native language has been so rewarding. It has brought unexpected and beautiful accolades from across the world. It has reconfirmed my faith in the belief that if you are rooted you truly go places.
Q. How different is doing a mainstream Bollywood movie, as compared to working in a regional film?
A. In the larger picture, the main difference, of course, is in the whole scale and economics of it. But personally, for me, doing Rainbow Fields was a sort of giving back to my place of birth and my native state. So it was an emotional journey from the beginning. I think it really cannot be compared to any other work that I have done in the past because I did this film for a very different reason.
Q. A lot of regional movies are getting a remake in Hindi. What do you have to say about that trend?
A. I think that’s a very encouraging trend. Regional films have always been about content. And remaking such films in Hindi just makes them available to a wider audience, which they deserve. It also creates more commercial opportunities for regional content.
Q. You’ve been in the industry for almost two decades now. How has Bollywood transformed in your view over this span?
A. I think one amazing change is that now there is space for all kinds of cinema. A small independent film can also get a release and can do really well. It isn’t necessary, these days, to sign a big star. Although, of course, the star system will always remain and that’s fine, but there is also space for content-based cinema. I feel our audiences have changed and they are demanding better content. People seem to be getting tired of stars in films without content. This pushes even the biggest of stars to look for content and that is a great change.
Q. Audiences these days are welcoming web series with open arms. What are your thoughts on this medium?
A. The online platform for me is a very exciting one. I have been part of two series—Untagand Bewafa asii Wafaa. The best thing about the platform is that you get to push the envelope and the creators don’t have to constantly worry about “multiplex, single screen”. That gets everyone involved in the project and motivates them to create something that hasn’t been seen before. I feel that the medium has a sort of personal and real connect with the audience.
Q. If there a film of yours that has influenced you as a person? If so, how?
A. Well, I think I’ll pick three at least. My first film,16 December, for obvious reasons, it’ll always remain special. It opened up a whole new world for me and I realised that I actually enjoy acting. Then, Ladies vs Ricky Behl, because it garnered a lot of attention for me, there were a lot of people who noticed me thanks to that film, and it made me realise the fun of being recognised for a big studio film. And of course, my first Assamese feature film, Rainbow Fields, which has been an amazing journey emotionally and professionally. In all these, I had the opportunity to grow as a person and create lifelong personal connections, and I think that matters the most to me.
Q. You are from a non-acting background. So was it difficult for you to make it till here in your acting career?
A. Well, taking up acting as a career has been a rollercoaster ride. The first thing I realised is that being in the movies is a whole different ball game from just being talented. In the movies, I think it’s about perseverance. It’s about working at creating your own space, your path, and realising that as long as you keep at it without getting affected by what other people in the same profession are doing, you are going to be fine.
Q. You have recently won a best supporting actress award for your web series, Bewafaa Sii Wafaa. Do you approach acting in web series any differently from movies?
A. Actually, both the web series I was a part of were with movie directors, so the only difference for me was probably the fact that you have less luxury of time on a web series. Apart from the fact that one is big-screen content and the other mobile content, I felt no difference as such. As an actor, though, I feel it’s great that we have an additional platform to showcase our talent.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. Right now, I’m on vacation and want to enjoy my win. When I get back, I begin reading two scripts and also begin work on the first project under my company, North East Film Studio. I have also shot for a pilot of a web series and work on that will begin soon.