Triptii Dimri’s 10-minute role in Animal has invited a fair bit of chatter. While her acting talent has never been in doubt, the deeply misogynistic treatment Triptii’s Zoya is made to experience in the Sandeep Reddy Vanga film has polarised audiences. In this chat with t2, the Bulbbul actress clears the air.
Animal is raking in a couple of hundred crores even as we speak. Did you expect it to get so big so soon?
I did know that since it’s a Ranbir Kapoor and a Sandeep Reddy Vanga film, it will be good. But I didn’t expect it to be this big. I also didn’t expect so much talk about my part, especially because I am on screen for only 10 minutes. I didn’t expect to be receiving the amount of love that I am getting. I thought it will come and go. Yes, a few people may notice it but that’s about it. But it’s turned out really well.
I am very excited and very happy that I could connect with people, that my character could strike a chord. During the process of signing the film I had a chat with my director and he said: ‘I want people to see innocence in her (Triptii’s character Zoya) eyes.’ He told me that even though it is a negative character and has a certain template, he didn’t want the audience to see me like that at all. He told me: ‘I don’t want people to see that you have this intention in your heart. I want them to see innocence on your face.’
She’s a girl who is under a lot of pressure to do what she’s doing. Sandeep sir told me that he wanted the viewer to see love in Zoya’s eyes for Ranvijay (played by Ranbir).
I am glad that people are talking about it and they can see that in Zoya. While shooting, I told myself that I am doing what I feel is right. But I really didn’t know if the audience would be able to connect with it. But seeing that people have managed to connect with Zoya and her love for Ranvijay feels amazing.
The dynamic between Ranvijay and Zoya is far from ideal and his treatment of her is deeply problematic and misogynistic. Didn’t you have any trepidation in doing some of those scenes that your character has to do in the film?
Not really. When I started out as an actor, I had a clean slate. Very initially in my career, I was given a negative character and I couldn’t perform it. It was then that my acting coach told me that if I start judging my characters, I will not be able to play them.
He told me that I have to believe in my character, that I have to be the defense lawyer for my character. Even if one is doing something wrong, one has to do it with complete honesty. That’s because there is always a reason behind why you do what you do and the day you start judging your character, you will fall flat and people will see through it. People will see that you are not being honest, that you are not convinced with what you are doing.
When I play someone, I have to keep in mind that it is their life that I am portraying. Triptii’s opinion doesn’t matter in the situation the character is in. It’s what the character is going through that matters, and as an artiste, you should always remember that. Otherwise, you end up playing only certain kinds of roles, you don’t challenge yourself as an actor.
This is something that has stayed with me. Yes, there are times when I don’t agree with certain things. I had a rape scene in Bulbbul and that was far more challenging for me than anything I had to do in Animal. What I did in Bulbbul, no girl would want to go through that feeling or that experience. But I had to put Triptii aside and say: ‘This is not my story, this is her story and this person is going through that.’ Similarly, in Animal, Zoya lives in a world like this. I had to believe in the world that the director and the writer had created and just do my job.
Somewhere we need to humanise our characters. We put our heroes and heroines on a pedestal and we tell them that they have to do everything right. But we forget that they are also humans, that they are also experiencing life for the first time. You make mistakes, you do wrong things... some people grow out of it, some people don’t, but everyone should be allowed to make mistakes. Everyone should be allowed to have an opinion, we should all be allowed to do what we feel like doing in the moment. That is how I justify my characters in my head every time I have to play something that I don’t agree with as a person. I try and humanise the person and say: ‘Maybe something that I have done has hurt someone but I was just safeguarding myself and I can make a mistake.’
Are you and Zoya similar in any way?
Triptii with Ranbir Kapoor in Animal
As a human being, you have all the emotions inside you. Even a character like Bulbbul came from somewhere inside me. It’s just that I don’t explore that side of me on a daily basis. I keep that aside, I am not even aware of it maybe. I am me when I am not acting. But when you are given a character and when you live with the character for so long, you start finding those beliefs inside you.
What was the atmosphere like on set and what were your biggest learnings from being on it?
It was a magical experience because I have always been a fan of Ranbir’s work. Ever since I became an actor, I have wanted to share screen space with him. There is so much to learn from that man, and not just in terms of acting, but also how he is as a person off screen. In front of him, I am a newcomer. He really didn’t need to stand and give me cues but he did that with utmost honesty every single time, all day long. He would make sure that I was comfortable on set. He could see that I was nervous — anyone would obviously be acting in front of their idol — and he would try to divert me and make sure that I was comfortable.
Every actor will have a few bad days on set and that happened to me on the day that we were shooting the ‘confession’ scene. For some reason, I could not memorise my lines and everything was going wrong. Usually, I am quick with crying, but on that day, it just wasn’t happening. I was anyway nervous and all that was adding to my nervousness. Both Ranbir and Sandeep sir sensed it. We had to finish that scene in half a day, but they didn’t rush me at all. They said: ‘This is your scene, you tell us how you want it to be done. You tell us whether you want us to take your close-up shots first.’ Everything was done according to how I wanted it and that made me feel so special.
There is so much passion for his work in Sandeep sir. He had the whole BGM (background music) ready on set. Whatever you have seen in the film, that is the BGM that played on set while we were performing. After every take, he would call us, play the BGM and the clip and he would match it and show us how he wanted to use it. He would take everyone’s opinion into consideration. It makes you feel involved and makes you want to give your 100 per cent.
You were the centrepiece of both Bulbbul and Qala. A 10-minute role in Animal got you noticed. What’s the mindspace like going into your next few films?
It’s always been to consciously do different kinds of roles because I get comfortable easily. If I find my comfort zone, I will say: ‘This is my space, I want to keep doing it.’ But very soon, it becomes boring and then you are left with no motivation, and that is the space that I want to avoid.
At first, I never expected Zoya in Animal to challenge me as an actor because I thought it’s a straight-up negative character. But when I was told that the audience shouldn’t see her negative side, then it became challenging and interesting. These are the kind of quirks I am looking for in the characters I play in the future.
You are doing a film with Rajkummar Rao and another with Vicky Kaushal. How are these parts different from anything that you have done so far?
People will see me in a very different light. Mostly, the audience has seen me in very dramatic, crying roles. In these films, they will see the fun side of me.
Is there a certain kind of role you want to play?
I am a fan of Killing Eve and I love the negative character (Villanelle), played by Jodie Comer. I am not sure if we will make something like Killing Eve here, but I would love to be a part of it.