An actor is an observer
Indian born, New York based actress Dipti Mehta wears many hats – a theater artist, television & film actress, a filmmaker and more. As her acclaimed film Life! Camera Action…, which won her several awards for the Best Actress, recently became available on Fliqvine (a digital platform for indie films), we spoke to the pretty actress about her role, association with Director Rohit Gupta and other facets of her acting journey.
You started your acting career with theatre and then moved on to films. Has your theatre background contributed to your film journey?
Absolutely. Theater taught me discipline and listening, which I believe is crucial for any actor. I am fortunate to have worked with some great directors and actors when I was really young; it was like going to acting school.
Your profile says that you love drawing inspiration from the environment and people around. How does this inspiration help you as an actor?
I love observing people, if I am walking I am observing how others walk, on a train I shamelessly watch others having conversations. That honestly is my acting school. I will sit in a park for hours watching people walking by, kids playing, vendors selling stuff, women talking, grandmas knitting; I think they are so interesting. I love learning from my surroundings. I think an actor is an observer. Most of the characters I play are drawn from people I observed.
Coming to Life! Camera Action.., how did this role happen to you? Apparently Director Rohit Gupta initially thought you weren’t fit for the role. What made him change his mind?
I think only Rohit can really answer why he changed his mind. When I first met him I was dressed like an actor, make up and the whole deal. He said I was not a good fit for this particular character and I said alright. So when I later got a call for an audition, I went after my Bikram Yoga Class, no makeup and all worked up. I had prepared for the character and since I already knew I was not getting the part, I just thought of it as a great acting exercise. I had fun auditioning, and perhaps that made him change his mind but you ought to ask him. And do tell me what he says (laughs).
As an actor in general and to play the role of Reina in particular, was there a particular preparation method involved? Any workshops with the cast?
Rohit and I had many conversations, he is a wonderful director to work with, and gives you a lot of freedom to play around. Mostly for me as an actor I start relating to people on set with the energy of the character and that produces a certain truth for the character I am playing.
How did Rohit help you understand this character? And how would you define Rohit as a director?
SPONTANEOUS should be Rohit’s middle name (laughs). He is definitely spontaneous and comes up with ideas based on what he sees the actors doing; I know there were times he was filming and we had no clue. His expectation from me was to keep it simple, real and follow Reina’s heart.
On the face of it, Reina seems to be like any other girl of today, who wants to pursue her dreams. But the character has several layers. What was the toughest aspect about playing Reina? Was it easy for you to identify with the character?
I think the toughest layer for Reina was that she never makes her family appear wrong. And it would be very easy for a young girl to make her parents look wrong for not supporting her choices. She still misses them and loves them just the same. I think Reina lives in each one of us, there is a part of us that wants to rebel at some point in our lives about something, and that is Reina. I had to struggle with my family to have them see my passion, so yes, on that level I identified with Reina.
You received several accolades for the film. What according to you worked for you and the film?
I think it was the way we worked. We really had fun filming the scenes. Even when the scenes were heavy the process was fulfilling. I think when you are in the moment and give yourself 100% to something, the results follow.
How have things changed post all the universal adulation?
That is a very interesting question. I think given that the film has done so well, I do get certain amount of respect from my fellow industry mates. I think they get that I am a serious actor and am serious about the work. But for me personally I am just doing what I love to do, adulation or not, I am an actor because there is nothing else that gives me more joy than giving life to different characters.
You have also directed two short films. How do your sensibilities as a director and an actor influence each other?
Having been on the other side of the camera, I am able to appreciate the people involved on both sides of the process. It definitely makes me humble and understanding of the demands of a production. It has made me much more patient and compassionate as an actor.
The film recently released on Fliqvine and is now more easily accessible. How important is Fliqvine as a medium in today’s times? Have you received any feedback from Fliqvine users on the film yet?
I am so excited that we have Fliqvine as a platform. I think we need platforms like Fliqvine in today’s age where everything is becoming digital, super fast and everything is available at the tip of your fingers. One swipe and you have access to most things today. I am looking forward to the feedback on Fliqvine, perhaps talk to me in the future and we can discuss that (smiles).