Nimrat Kaur: ‘Turning tulsi into poison ivy’ in Dasvi

A leap of faith causes the actress to follow up her role in her home country with someone who makes her milk cows and conduct political meetings

A leap of faith causes the actor to follow her Homeland role with someone who makes her milk cows and conduct political meetings

From the global film festival’s favorite The lunch box and best-selling Bollywood Airlift to American TV series Homeland, Nimrat Kaur has a filmography that is rich and versatile. Mixing between productions in India and abroad, the actress says she often has to press a mental reset button. To behave in exactly the same way on a set in America and one in Lucknow would be a disservice to everyone, including herself.

Although it is easy to contrast the organized West with the random East (like an army looter, she is a “sucker” for the order and discipline you find in the former), Kaur thinks there are pros and cons to both. Things are carved in stone in the west, while at home there is more flexibility. And in the United States, people are not tolerated just because they are big stars. Still, she sees a change in the Indian film industry, with a steadily declining tolerance for mediocrity and substandard work ethic. “It’s no longer fashionable to show up late for work or be cool about being unprofessional.”

Beboer Bimmo

Speaking of her latest film Dasvi, she is all praise for the “safe, wonderful and graceful” environment of the recording, and gives most of the credit to her opponent Abhishek Bachchan, a “lovely, lively person”. She says he was paying attention to everyone on the recording and never let the energy go. Even during our interview, Bachchan looks past to make sure Kaur does not miss his lunch.

Nimrat Kaur as Bimla Devi Chaudhary | Photo: Kerry Monteen

Kaur, 40, thanks her “lucky stars” for being committed Dasvi. After Airlift, she was exhausted by the kind of offers that came her way. “Unfortunately, I belong to the race of people who can not just sign up for something, where you half love it,” she says. The actress was eager to do something in a genre she had not done before, and Dasvi was the perfect opportunity.

Producer Dinesh Vijan and director Tushar Jalota offered it for their pre-pandemic, in February 2020. She remembers Vijan’s one-line sketch of the character, Bimla Devi Chaudhary (aka Bimmo): a submissive, naive, simple girl who becomes a circumstantial politician and becomes power-hungry. “It was like tulsi will be poison ivy, ”she laughs. Kaur was sold on the “dream project”, a comedy that, among other things, required her to put on 15 kilos and train in a Haryanvi accent.

She describes Bimmo’s arch as “wonderful” – she goes through the opposite of what happens to her husband (Bachchan), a politician who ends up in prison. From someone who is cared for to get married and take care of the household (a common reality in the heart of India), Bimmo takes the reins of her husband’s political career and suddenly experiences freedom in a life of high power. She “goes to town and realizes that no one is coming between her and her chair”. Playing the role helped Kaur cross a two-part path: from himself to Bimmo and then to Bimla Devi Chaudhury. It helped her too own the weight and the accent, and not just “wear it”.

Although she does not compare the two roles, Kaur has been fascinated by Tabu’s role in Virasatwhich she describes as “funny and humble”, as well as Sridevi’s unintentional comic objection Sadma. Kaur remembers walking away from Maddock Film’s office after the story and feeling grateful. She compares the leap of faith to imagine her in a role similar to the one that got her Homeland (based on her performance in The lunch box).

Dasvi will be released on JioCinema and Netflix on April 7.

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