'I was expecting to get calls after Laila Majnu because the reviews were really good...'
'But no calls came.'
'People always say the struggle begins after the first film... what you do next decides your future in the business.'
'Being an outsider, you don't know when the next opportunity will come.'
'There were days when I would feel I am just wasting time.
'I was in my 20s and I felt I was wasting away the prime years of my life.'
Tripti Dimri looks nothing like the titular thakurian character she played in Bulbbul.
Wearing an orange t-shirt, a smile constantly playing with her mouth, the 25-year-old actress is very friendly and opens up to you instantly.
This is Tripti's third film after Poster Boys and Laila Majnu, and the ride, she admits, and has seen its ups and downs.
Hailing from the scenic district of Chamoli in Uttrakhand, Tripti tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com how she changed from a terribly shy person to a movie star.
"When I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor, they were like, 'How can you be an actor? You have to go out and interact with people! You hardly talk to our relatives!'", she says with a laugh.
Bulbbul transforms from a gentle woman, caught in family politics, to a mature thakurian with a cold smile. How did you tackle that transformation?
I got selected in December and started shooting from February. So I had two months to prepare for the character.
We did a lot of background research and it really helps to understand how the character works and reacts to situations.
I spent a lot of time with Anvita (Dutt, director) to understand this girl and her relationship with the other characters, like her husband, Satya...
She wanted to make sure I knew the story really well.
We had an acting workshop with Atul Mongia.
But yes, it was difficult.
There were days when we had to shoot the 20-year-old character first and then do the transformed Bulbbul and then return to the 20 year old. Those days were difficult.
But Anvita is very good with actors.
There were days when I would say I am not getting it, and she would sit with me and get me in the mood anyhow.
To understand the transformed Bulbbul's mind and to play her was very tough. I am closer to the younger, confused, Bulbul.
The older one was very comfortable in her space, very calm. She was flawed and had made peace with it.
She was her own soulmate.
To understand all that was difficult for me.
My acting coach gave me a weird exercise. He told me to breathe differently when I played the older character. I wondered how it would make a difference, but it did.
SPOILER ALERT! The rape scene was very chilling.
It was difficult for me.
There was no rehearsal for that.
I knew how important that scene was from Day One because that's the changing point of her character. That's when she decided that she would not let anyone rule her life.
I was freaking out, but Rahul (Bose) sir was really supportive.
He called me before the shoot and said he would go all out during the shoot, but if at any point I felt uncomfortable, if I needed to someone to talk to, he was there.
I got a lot of sympathy on set.
People would check in on me after every cut.
Rahul sir would cover me up after every cut, sit and talk to me. That helped.
It gave me the confidence and strength.
These things can sometimes take a toll on you, but I was lucky enough to have Anvita as a director.
For a shy girl to becoming an actress, how did that transformation happen?
It took a lot of time.
I take a lot of time to open up to people, but with time, I have gotten comfortable on sets because there you are a different person. You are hiding behind a character.
I am three films old now.
I was extremely nervous during my first film, even my second film.
But here, I was comfortable because with experience, you learn.
But I still find it difficult to talk to you guys.
I am a very shy person, and when I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor, they were like, 'How can you be an actor? You have to go out and interact with people! You hardly talk to our relatives!'
Why did you want to become an actress?
I just wanted to avoid studies! (laughs)
It's something that happened by chance.
My brother's friend is a photographer and he asked if he could shoot me. I said okay.
He sent my pictures to this company called Images Bazaar in Delhi.
I got a call and went there for auditions.
I got selected and started doing print shoots.
Then I joined a YouTube channel for a year-and-a-half. That's where I got comfortable with the camera.
I remember my first day, it was difficult for me to even say my name in front of the camera.
I was literally shaking!
But that experience helped me face the camera.
After a year-and-a-half, I felt I was wasting my time and not doing anything productive. So I joined a modeling agency in Delhi and worked with them for two years.
That's when I decided to try acting, not just print shoots.
I was sent for an audition in Mumbai.
While I was here, I got a call from a casting director.
Initially, I felt I was not ready for films, but my agency pushed me to go ahead. I auditioned and to my surprise, I got selected.
And I thought, this is so easy. I hadn't even moved to Mumbai and I had already got a movie role!
But I was very nervous on the sets of Poster Boys.
My first shot was with Sunny Deol and I was shaking. Luckily, I didn't have any lines.
That experience helped me be around a lot of people and understand how films were made.
After that, I moved to Mumbai.
My parents were like, okay, she's done a film with Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol, then she can act!
In February 2017, I moved to Mumbai and in March, I auditioned for Laila Majnu.
How did that happen?
I had already auditioned for the film from Delhi in 2016, but it got shelved.
Then it started again, and my agency asked me to audition for it. But I said they had my audition, so I didn't want to do it again.
One day, I was doing a test for a TVC (television commercial) and my flatmate was testing for Laila Majnu. So she asked me to wait for her for 15 minutes so that we could go home together.
So I was waiting for her outside the casting director's office.
Then he came out and said, 'You look Kashmiri. Why aren't you auditioning?'
I said 'You have my test.'
So he said 'No, you look very different now, give it another try.'
So I did.
Then Sajid (Ali, Laila Majnu director) took my test again for seven-eight hours the next day.
Then we had a camera test, a look test and finally I got it.
But I didn't know anything about acting. They would be talking about back stories and I would be clueless, yeh back story kya hota hai?
Or, why do they have sessions for script reading?
After Laila Manju, I made sure to go to an acting workshop, and that's when I fell in love with the craft.
But you had didn't get any films after Laila Majnu released.
Honestly, I was expecting to get calls after Laila Majnu because the reviews were really good, including Avinash (Tiwary)'s performance, my performance...
But no calls came.
People always say that the struggle begins after the first film... first toh mil jaati hai, what you do next decides your future in the business.
And I wanted to do a nice story, play a nice character, something as good as Laila.
But after six-seven months of the film's release, I felt I could not sit around any longer. I needed to go out and audition. So I did.
I got some stories, but didn't like them, so I kept saying no.
It's very important to say no to stuff you don't like because then you won't be able to do justice to it.
It was risky.
Being an outsider, you don't know when the next opportunity will come.
But it is very important to trust yourself and have patience.
There were days when I would feel that I am just wasting time, I Am not working while my friends were.
I would just get up, cook and watch TV.
I was in my 20s and I felt that I was wasting away the prime years of my life.
So those things were on my mind, but I made sure to keep myself busy with workshops, talking to my parents, my school friends...
Financially, I was fine because I was doing print shoots.
Bulbbul released during the lockdown. Do you wish it had released at another time when you could enjoy the success better?
I Am very happy that it released now.
People have the time to watch these shows now.
People are waiting for new stories and films, so it's a good time.
If it released in normal times, we would not have got as many eyeballs as we did.