She is as unfazed by the summer heat as by the dearth of good roles coming her way. In fact, Dia Mirza is confident that she has found a winner in Hum Tum Aur Ghost. As she steps into Arshad Warsi’s office in suburban Bombay, looking petite and beautiful, I cannot help but start by congratulating her.
First of all, you are looking very gorgeous. You must be used to hearing this all the time.
No, I am not. I don’t know why but people just assume that I am complimented so much that they don’t say anything at all. Thank you.
What character do you play in HUM TUM AUR GHOST?
My character is called Gehna, who is an independent, working, educated woman, one of those rare characters in Hindi cinema that are not one-dimensional. I really feel like people are going to see me on the screen for the first time.
Arshad singled you out for his film on the sets of LAGE RAHO MUNNA BHAI?
I remember Arshad telling me after Lage Raho… that he believed that I was one of the most under-utilised actors and that one day, he would offer me a role that was worthy of me. And with Hum Tum Aur Ghost, he’s done just that.
This film means a lot to you?
I was happy when Arshad kept his word and offered me the film, because at a time when I was quite convinced that I would never be offered a role like this. I was in a zone in my career where I was being offered guest appearances or parts which were not wholesome. Even if it was a lead role, it was an apology of a lead.
We heard, you had lots of fun while shooting with Boman Irani for HUM TUM AUR GHOST?
Boman would do this gay act in the middle of the streets, and every passerby was convinced that he was gay. And I would cook some delicious biryani for the whole cast.
And how is Arshad as a producer?
Nuts. When you work with friends, you start looking out for them. And Arshad being the writer, actor and producer, had a lot to worry about. He never said “no” to any of his director’s demands, at the risk of spending more money than he must have bargained for. His friends would tell him that by the end of the film, he’d be holding a begging bowl on the streets of New Castle because we shot there!
Arshad’s character sees ghosts in the film. Have you had any supernatural experience in real-life?
(Gets emotional) For a long time now, I have felt that maybe, I should be able to contact my father, whom I lost at the age of 9. I still feel his presence around me. You lose the physical touch but you never lose the feeling. I don’t understand why people get scared of ghosts. I know so many people who will identify what’s happening in this film.
You’ve done a lot of multi-starrers recently… but not many leads.
My talent has been recognised in a few films that have been critically appreciated. What really works in the Hindi film industry is the success of the film. You could be a bloody good actor and do very good films but still not become a star. Instead of grudging it, you have to accept the reality and move on.
But there are moments of absolute frustration, when I feel like packing my bags and leaving. You have your highs and lows; we are human beings at the end of the day.
How do you deal with the frustration?
I keep my life simple. You will always feel inconsequential if you compare yourself to others. I came to Bombay with nothing, no filmi connections, no real training in acting. I was this 18-year-old kid scrubbing my own floor, cooking my own food and then I found work. The very fact that at my age, I am in a position to help people, is something that I am proud of.
What’s in the film for the audience?
It’s a very moral film like Lage Raho Munna Bhai and 3 Idiots. Somewhere, Arshad picked that up from (director) Raju (Rajkumar Hirani), the ability to make people laugh while giving them a message. It’s a film that you will love, or really like. You won’t leave the theatre saying, ‘What the hell was that man?’ I’ve been a part of a few of those films but fortunately this is not one of them.