Dimple Kapadia is a legend and her journey through cinema has been nothing short of incredible.
She was discovered at age 14 by the visionary filmmaker Raj Kapoor, who cast her in the title role of his teen romance Bobby (1973), to commercial success and wide public recognition.
After a brief break due to marriage and settling down, Kapadia has since essayed roles which have never conformed to a set image or stereotype.
Recently, the veteran actor forayed into the West with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, in a significant role as a mastermind by the name of Priya.
Filme Shilmy speaks with Dimple in more detail about this new venture and here’s an excerpt of the conversation.
From Raj Kapoor to Christopher Nolan, it’s been a magnificent journey for you in cinema. What has doing Tenet meant for you as an artist?
I would say it’s a culmination of my entire career and it is mind-blowing. Totally unexpected and never dreamt of it.
I haven’t said a word till now but the press has been asking for interviews (because I don’t really do them). The entire unbelievable experience has been tremendous.
It’s always been like this with me. I worked with Raj Saab when I was very young and didn’t know the magnitude of the man I was working. That hasn’t changed today.
After so many years I have realised it and thought “this is what has happened with me” so it’s lovely!
What was your approach to playing a grey character and mastermind like Priya and how did Nolan guide you throughout the journey?
The moment he took my audition, I said I want to work on it, do some workshops and other preparations, but I didn’t because he knew exactly what he wanted.
Honestly, I didn’t have to do a thing as it’s his baby. He just adopted me, that’s it.
As an actor, surrendering to your director is the only way. He’s a visionary so whom am I to really say anything.
Nolan knew what he wanted and got it.
It’s amazing to see legends like yourself gaining international recognition. What do you think is attracting Hollywood’s attention towards actors from India and why?
Specifically, I think it’s the casting. It plays a big role and has a major influence. If you’ve got your cast right then half the battle is won.
What is lovely about this character is that it’s not a typical Indian caricature with the way they speak and their mannerisms. I’m sure Christopher Nolan didn’t want that.
It’s great to see different talents from around the world and in different places. This lends a lot of credibility to the characters and places they shoot.
I think it’s great that it opens up opportunities for actors across the globe.
You’ve always done films which were different. At a time when female parts were mostly that of a damsel in distress. How difficult was it for you to break out of that mould to stand out?
I think I attribute this to my Convent education. I was always a rebel without a cause, from a very young age.
I always believed in equality and wouldn’t buy the nonsense of a woman being inferior.
If there was a script presented to me like that, I would look into it and see where she was coming from and concentrate more on her strengths rather than weaknesses.
As an actor, I would enhance that. These characters would be more appealing to play rather than a ‘bechari’ (pitiable) one.
I could never play that – a person wallowing in self-pity. No.
Women are now in power and taking centre stage. Today, they can live their own lives which are not dependent on a man.
That gives them the inner-strength to come out and be themselves.
Listen to our full podcast with Dimple Kapadia here:
Many of your recent and contemporary works (including Tenet) have been impressive and unconventional. Going forward, what style of work do you hope to pursue now? What will be your focus?
I really don’t take myself so seriously (laughs). If something good happens along the way, I’ll do it.
For me, it’s just about the passion and dedication towards the craft.
In life, we think we have a choice but really, we don’t. The best thing is to always go with the flow.
Backed by Warner Bros Studios, Tenet is now out in cinemas.