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Audience will see me in a variety of roles in 2018, says Divya Dutta

The actress has nearly 10 films in her kitty, including Fanne Khan, Manto, Nasik, Music Teacher, Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Ram Singh Charlie, among others.

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After sustaining a career of over two decades in the Hindi film industry, actress Divya Dutta feels encouraged for more with her National Award win. With nearly 10 films in the pipeline, she is counting her blessings and says it's a very special year for her as an artiste.

"This is a very special year for me. With all the films that are coming up, the audience will see me in a variety of roles. Each one is very different from another," Dutta told IANS, a news agency, in an interview.

While her performance in the latest release Blackmail has won her a lot of praise, it is for her role in the film Irada that she won a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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Dutta is excited about the series of films lined up in her kitty.

"I am doing Fanne Khan opposite Anil Kapoor, I am playing a part in Manto, there's Nasik opposite Arjun Rampal, then I am doing a film called Music Teacher opposite Manav Kaul, one untitled project opposite Arshad Warsi, a multi-starrer film Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Nitin Kakkar-directed Ram Singh Charlie.

"I will also be seen in a pivotal role in Malala Yousafzai," the actress said in one breath, promptly adding: "That's quite a fish tank, isn't it?"

Dutta is especially excited about the film Manto, a biopic on Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto. The Nandita Das directorial has been selected for the Un Certain Regard competition section of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

"Nandita is a very good and sensible filmmaker since she is an actress herself. I really liked her working style. I am playing a character in one of Manto's stories.

"My character is pretty intense, bold and the story is to an extent disturbing. I cannot name the story but that is a very interesting character I played," she added.

Having started her journey as an actress in 1994, Dutta is known for her fine performance in films like Veer-Zaara (2004), Aaja Nachle (2007), Welcome To Sajjanpur (2008), Delhi-6 (2009) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013).

She has had the good fortune to work with some celebrated filmmakers like Yash Chopra, Shyam Benegal and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra.

So, was becoming an actress a dream?

"Coming from a family of doctors, I never had any formal training in acting. I think I always wanted to be in performing art. In my school and college days, I used to be the best actress whenever I participated in drama and theatre," she recounted.

"When I started, I used to be a part of multi-starrer films which was good but I wanted to try something that is more worth my while. I was thinking of how will I tell the world that I am a good actor, that I used to be in my school days. My mother then advised me to take up roles that are meatier and make them my own.

"Perhaps that is how the process started where every character that came my way, I added something to make the character more memorable, and performed as I ‘own' the character," Dutta said.

Since the actress manages to portray all shades of emotions with a certain ease, asked about how she manages to keep the humane side alive within her, she said: "Well, there is always a vulnerable side to a strong-headed woman, and I am no exception.

"When I came into the film industry, I was not like the Divya I am today. I was young, innocent and grew up in a very protective atmosphere. But with time, I learnt to become a strong person, I learnt to handle the difficult situation without showing it to the world.

"So, whether I play any strong or vulnerable character, I am somewhere bringing that in my performance," Dutta said.

She believes that a strong portrayal of the woman in Indian cinema has been a constant process and not a new practice.

What's her opinion on ‘female-centric films'?

"Whether it is Nargisji, Madhubala, Meena Kumari, we have had many examples of strong women portrayals in our Indian cinema. With time, things have changed the way society did.

"So I think now when you watch a Ishqiya (2010), Kahaani (2012) or Queen (2014), those are the portrayal of today's women, because that is how young Indian women have changed."

Personally, she does not think too much about the category of women-centric films.

"I think of a good story. Because for me, in the end, the story is the winner. There is either a bad story or a good story and nothing else matters that much."