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Spotlight > Divya Spandana
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Destiny’s Child

Brutal honesty, flamboyant personality and admirable talent aside, Divya Spandana aka Ramya is truly a livewire. With a title ‘Sandalwood Queen’, her entry into politics and a successful stint in Kollywood, she has done quite a bit and in very little time that too. When you look at her, she reminds you of Thumbelina, but as she begins to speak, you realize that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her tongue-in-cheek responses to questions, sarcasm interspersed with notoriety and a nonchalant attitude about most things in life are all extremely endearing. In a chitchat with Chandini K, Divya Spandana talks about her childhood, entry into films, dabbling with politics, love life and more.

Back in Karnataka she is called the ‘Golden girl of Cinema’ and for K-Town she is simply ‘Kuththu Ramya’. Divya Spandana made her debut in Abhi and has more than 30 successful films in her kitty since 2003. She is one of the most sought after actresses in the South and has acted in several Tamil movies like Vaaranam Ayiram, Polladhavan, Singam Puli and the much awaited ‘Vada Chennai’. Battling the rumours of her being married, her sudden foray into politics and her relationship with a Portugal man, her life has certainly been an eventful one over the last few years but one thing about Divya – she is least scared to rise up every time she falls.

“Childhood just passed in a flash”

Contrary to what most people think, Divya is not a complete ‘Kannadiga’. Born in Bangalore, her parents hailed from Mandya and settled in the city but she hardly spent time growing up there. “Most of my childhood was spent in a boarding school, St.Hilda’s in Ooty. I was made to join a boarding school when I was just 3 years old! I missed my mother a lot but time just passed by with friends around.” Though she did not spend much time in the garden city, she does love it for all its beauty and landscape. “What I remember and adore is the beautiful weather, smooth and quiet roads as well as playing badminton in the evenings. I do not have siblings. I am the only daughter and since my parents were separated, it was just my mother and I. We lived in an apartment so it was one giant neighbour family actually. I have always been extremely friendly and approachable, so I used to play a lot with the other kids in the society.”

“Things I love - my mom and Kannada”
Since Divya had always been in and out of Bangalore, fluency in Kannada did not just happen over a day; she had to learn it on her mother’s orders. “My mother insisted that I take up learning Kannada via tuitions. I used to protest a lot stating that I had enough to study and was never interested in learning the language, besides having extra homework to do during the holidays. But now I am so grateful that she made me learn Kannada, because at the end of the day, you are who you are, and your roots will never fade away.” Divya attributes her good education to her mother’s motivation. Even as a child, she was very creative, participating in dance rehearsals and stage shows. “Back in Bangalore it was just mom and I alone in a big house, so we didn’t speak much. I spent most of my time cooking and cleaning, but my mom and I, we did do a lot of activities together which were enjoyable”.

“Chennai was out of my comfort zone”
Divya soon moved to Singara Chennai to join Sacred Heart School aka Church Park where she finished high school. “I studied only for two years in Chennai but I vividly remember them. It was again boarding school so I didn’t get the chance to move out much. It was fun at school because I participated in a lot of activities like fashion shows etc. But compared to how I was in Ooty, I was shy and an introvert! Chennai was the first place out of my comfort zone and among new school and new friends, it was a task to settle in. But all in all they were fun filled years so life in Chennai was good!”

“Both my parents were against me acting”

Divya started her graduation in St. Joseph’s College of Commerce in Bangalore but she had to discontinue when she got her first offer in films. “Both my parents were completely against me taking up acting. My dad tried a lot to convince me that I didn’t have to choose this path and I can study well to make a good future for myself. My mother on the other hand was even stricter and she downright rejected the idea. She still hasn’t given up though.” Divya was offered admissions in colleges in London for higher education, but she was quite stubborn about what she wanted to do. “It’s been 10 years since I joined the film industry! Yet my mom tries to talk me out of it and insists that I go back to studying. There came a point when she sort of just accepted what is happening and stopped trying to make me get back to education. Now she pesters me to get married! It has been so many years since I began acting and my mom hasn’t watched a single movie of mine! My dad is now more supportive. He joins me occasionally when I go to premiers and launch functions. It is not like my mom doesn’t think I have talent, but she never really cared for cinema. “

“There are more ups than downs”
10 years of cinema and Divya has never looked back even once. “I love the independence that this career gives, the adulation that follows. I love the hundreds of fictional characters I get to play on the screen. What interests me most in this field is the chance I get, to study other people, their behaviour and understand their character. I love how I have come to a state where I can read a person thoroughly and predict their next move, a talent I have inculcated over the years in this industry.” Known for her brutal honesty, she is also quite charming she admits. “I know that I can make someone smile despite having a bad day myself, something that I learnt in this profession which I am sure you cannot find anywhere else. And of course, being appreciated for your work and earning that recognition is great! Which other profession offers diehard fans that stick by you at all times? I love my profession and like in any other profession there are downs too but I have to admit there are more ups!”

“Puneeth Rajkumar is very professional”

Divya made her debut in the Kannada film ‘Abhi’ with Puneeth Rajkumar, the second son of legendary Rajkumar. Starting off her first movie with a Rajkumar heir was exhilarating she says. “Puneeth is very professional. He is very talented and an amazing dancer. He is also very easy to work with so my first movie experience was a breeze. He never interfered with my work and does his job to perfection. He was so approachable when I met him so we used to chat a lot and we had a good rapport going; which is why producers cast us together in a lot of ventures.” The off screen friendship, created a lot of good onscreen chemistry. Since Abhi was the first venture, Divya still had a lot to learn. “Now I don’t believe that you need to be good friends with your co-stars to produce a good performance, you just have to be a good actor. What happens off screen really doesn’t matter to me anymore now. Back then though, being friends was so important for me because I was new to movies and I didn’t know anything, and I needed that rapport to exist.” Following the success of ‘Abhi’, the Puneeth-Divya formula has worked off in more than 7 movies. She admits that she has never worked with Shivarajkumar yet but waiting for the opportunity to.

“Simbu and I were a riot in the Kuththu sets. We didn’t get along initially”
Kuththu with Simbhu was not that easy, Divya says. “When Simbhu and I worked together we were still kids and both of us were really hot-headed and quite stubborn. We are sure we gave the director hell!” Directed by A.Venkatesh, it is the Telugu remake of the movie Dil. “We have however grown over the years, things changed and so do people so if I had a chance to work with Simbu again, I surely would. Now, every time we meet we do bond a lot.”

“As a friend, Dhanush has always been there for me. I don’t think I have been there for him as much”

The success of Polladhavan 2007 was so huge that the movie was remade in Kannada as well as Telugu. It was director Vetrimaran who found the jackpot when he paired Dhanush and Dhivya, who ended up being best friends later on. “Polladhavan was a good learning experience, basically because Vetrimaran is so well read and so knowledgeable especially when it comes to movies. Acting with Dhanush was fun too. He would always teach me how to make different facial expressions.”The Divya-Dhanush friendship sprung somewhere by the end of Polladhavan. With constant tweeting back and forth the ‘paling’ was out there for everyone to see. “During the shooting, we weren’t actually friends. We actually did not have a good working experience at all at first. It was later, almost towards the end of the film that we started talking and became really good friends, lasting more than 6 years till date. It is not like we talk everyday or anything but every time we meet or when I pick up the phone and give him a ring, we start from where we left off last. Dhanush always knows everything that is happening in my life, and we never missed out on sharing any major news or happenings concerned us.

“Friendship in the film industry is not the same as one perceives”
Talking about lasting friendships in the film industry, Divya confesses that it’s not the same as what people make it out to be. “Whether it is cinema or anywhere else, friendship is pretty much the same. The only difference in Cinema is that people do not value real friendships as much. There is so much competition going on and all that everyone thinks off is to outdo one another. The real meaning of friendship is lost somewhere, and it is all superficial in the end. End of the day though, we are not really here to make friends! Friendship happens when it happens; you just click with someone you connect. It is just natural that when you are working in this industry, you tend to have trust issues because you meet thousands of people from different walks of life and you would have different experiences with each one of them; so everybody gets their share of hurt. I have made friends and burnt my fingers but now I just keep to myself. When the camera goes off, I have my friends waiting for me back home, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t make friends in the industry; we all just need good friends.”

“I don’t think I want to get married at all!”
Back in 2008 a fast spreading rumor about Divya getting married was all over the Internet. It was believed that she went on twitter to announce her singledom status, much to the joy of her fans. “I don’t remember the marriage rumor at all! According to papers, I have heard of myself committing suicide three times, but I don’t recollect the rumour about me being married! People have been debating though about me getting married but obviously the rumor is not true.” Divya switches to settling and she says, marriage is not her cup of tea.

“In real life, I am not Padmavathy”
Her item number Padmavathy was the song of 2011 filling all radio stations and television channels in Bangalore when it first came out. Somewhere in the lines of ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ and ‘Chikni chameli’ it was actually shot to be a parody says Divya. “Honestly the movie ‘Johnny mera naam’ was a full on comedy film and the producers wanted to include this item number in a dream sequence as more of a spoof of ‘Sheila ki Jawani’. It was meant to be funny and I had a blast shooting for it. Talking about how much Padmavathy is in her she quips, “I am nothing like her! I don’t wear clothes like that and really don’t have that kind of attitude.”

“I am single right now. I don’t think anything lasts forever. I live in the moment and my motto is carpe diem.”
Tabloids were filled with news on Divya’s relationship with the Portugal businessman last year. When asked about Raphael she says, “He exists in his corner of the world and I, in mine.” Talking about whether or not the hatchet has been buried she says, “The friendship is always there. Raphael and I are friends!” Although media speculated that the tattoo on her back spells Raphael in Latin, she says it actually means ‘this body is blessed!’When asked if those are the words from a broken heart, Divya says, “You have to go for whatever makes you happy and if love makes you happy, if you can define it that is, you should go for it.”

“Politics was an obvious move. The youth has to get involved in politics as it is their country and their future.”
Divya joins the long list of actors who have turned politicians but with a difference because of her age. She is now part of the Youth congress party, a move she has never regretted. “The move was obvious. We all crib about corrupt politicians, when we ourselves are a corrupt society. Each one of us has paid bribes too! Nothing is going to come out of whining about it. I believe that the youth of India have a huge responsibility when it comes to being active in politics; we have opinions and we know the value of income, so we need to speak up! We can’t say we have jobs to do and care less about voting. These are the issues I wanted to sort out when I entered politics.”

“Politics is a great platform for making a difference”
Divya is overwhelmed by the exposure she has received ever since she joined the political scenario. “I think politics is a great platform and if you love your country, this is the only platform to make a country better and bring about change. In America they choose sides from either being a republican or democrat and here we are not even sure what we believe in.” Talking about her future plans, Divya says she has not decided anything as yet. “I have not planned anything right now and I am not a person who plans my future either. I let others plan for me.”

“I never plan my future and I am more of a go with the flow person.”
Politics apart, for now, it is just flying back and forth from Bangalore to Chennai and back again. “It’s always been like that. Except that I have done more movies in Kannada because I live there. I enjoy doing Tamil movies but I am just waiting for some good scripts. The progress is slow in Tamil but the so far it has been a good ride. I like travelling and as a hardcore Sagittarian I can’t complain about the shuttling.” The vision ahead looks more or less clear for Divya as of now. “Honestly I never thought I would get into films and I did. Life is so uncertain. You live a moment and that is the only guarantee. No one can see the future. I do not see the larger picture; I am just keen on living life. Nothing comes easy in life and nothing should too, we should earn it! Life is all about living.” For a while though, Divya will be spending time on the sets of Karnataka for her upcoming film. “I have this very interesting socio-fantasy film that is yet to be named, directed by Kodi Ramakrishna, his first in Kannada. It has gotten all my attention now.”

Rapid fire with Dhivya

Favorite holiday destinations
Portugal and Istanbul

Favorite Brand

Love to me is...
A happy state of mind

My favorite Diwali Sweet
Kaju Kathli

My most memorable Diwali
My dog getting scared when we burst crackers

Diwali is...

Lighting a lot of diyas and eating a lot of sweets. I strictly don’t burst crackers.

One thing you would like to say this Diwali…
I am an avid animal lover so I request all my fans not to burst loud crackers, especially when stray animals are nearby!

Diwali on sets is…
Like any other working day except that the lunch is special and filled with goodies!

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