Exclusive! Divyenndu On Shukranu: I’m Surprised This Topic Was Not Talked About More
Divyenndu discusses the forced sterilisations in the 70s and why it deserves to be addressed in a film. ZEE5 Original Shukranu released on 14 Feb 2020
Divyenndu is part of the new breed of actors who seek out unique roles and bring out stories that deserved to be heard. While his earlier ZEE5 Original ‘Badnaam Gali‘ raised awareness about surrogacy, his latest ZEE5 Original ‘Shukranu‘ sheds light on the forced sterilizations that happened during the Emergency period in India during 1975-77. While announcing film at the ZEE5 February calendar launch, Divyenndu mentioned that the name of the film means sperm and it is a light take on on man’s story who had to take these forced sterilizations. If the teaser of the film is anything to go by then the film is sure to be a sharp satire.
Watch the teaser for Shukranu here.
1. What were the initial reactions you received from the Shukranu teaser?
The reactions were amazing. We didn’t think it would receive such a big reaction. People on Twitter, and in general, were quite excited about it. On the other hand, it is only a teaser and we didn’t want to give too much away from the movie. While the real reviews will come in once the movie releases, the early reactions are promising.
2. Why did you choose to do this movie?
Well, firstly I had never done a period piece and Shukranu is set in the 70’s so it was a nice change. Then the subject was very interesting: the emergency era, forced sterilisation, all of this has the scope for so much drama as well as comedy. To play a new character like the one in this movie is always good.
3. You seem to have a liking for offbeat roles with strong subjects. Your earlier ZEE5 Original ‘Badnaam Gali‘ was about surrogacy and now ‘Shukranu’. Do you seek out such roles?
I read scripts and I obviously lean more towards the offbeat roles. Not the regular stories because for that there are films. In OTT, you can do something different and express in a different way. So definitely I look out for these different roles and that’s the fun of it. To play different character, explore different emotions. There’s not fun in following a formula.
4. Did you know about the forced sterilisations in the 70’s?
Yes I already knew about it and I was surprised that it was something people did not talk about. It was almost out of the public consciousness for years now. While doing the movie I felt the emergency was not that long back. People from that era might very well be alive still. My greatest hope from this movie is that it reaches those people as an acknowledgement of their pain and helps them come to terms with it.
5. Do you feel like the humour makes light of this loaded issue? Or it helps the film reach a wider audience?
The emergency era is like the backdrop of the story. At it’s core, the film is about one man who is forced to get the nasbandi and the movie is then about how it affects his personal life, his relationships and from those situations we were able to find some comedy. At the same time we needed to be sensitive because like I said there must be people who went through that and are still living with us.
6. Since the movie is set in the 1970’s what did you do to make it feel like it is set in that time period?
It’s completely 70’s with a mustache, bellbottoms and everything. My only input was to make it caricature-ish, not make it too disco. Because not everyone was leaving the house to be in a film that day. I wanted it to look real and authentic to the time they were living in. Apart from the costume, there’s a lot of things to remind you of the 70’s. The props were from that time, we will be seen riding bicycles. You will see how cheap you could get everything for that time and curse inflation.
7. Apart from Shukranu and Badnaam Galli you have another short film ‘Fatafat‘ on ZEE5. So how has your experience been working with ZEE5?
It’s been quite great so far. Whatever I have done, people have enjoyed it, I’ve won awards for it and I really couldn’t ask for more. I hope this continues and people like Shukranu too. ZEE5 is constantly coming out with new stories and new concepts and as an actor I really like to explore new themes. I think we’ve developed a sync now because they understand what kind of characters I go for like the slightly offbeat and unusual. So I hope this this run continues.
Watch him discuss the movie Shukranu with co-stars Shweta Basu Prasad and Sheetal Thakur here.
8. How much of a coincidence is it that a movie about sterilisation is releasing on Valentine’s Day?
I don’t know because I was not part of of the decision making process. I feel it definitely adds the humour element of the show and I think it is smart decision for sure.
9. If you had to describe your co-actor Shweta Basu Prasad in one word what would it be?
10. And one word to describe Sheetal Thankur?
I mean they are both talented, but maybe… Pretty.
11. What was one fashion trend from the 70’s that you really like?
The big eyeglasses. They are classics.
12. Name one myth about Vasectomy that you find really funny?
I think there’s one common one that is people people in vasectomy they cut the testicles off. I find it funny because that is not the case at all. They just block a nerve to stop your from reproducing but otherwise everything else is perfectly normal.
What were some other myths that you heard about sterilisation? Let us know in the comments below. Watch Divyendu in the edgy comedy drama Shukranu releasing on 14 December on ZEE5.