Divyenndu recalls fans in Kanpur vandalised store when he didn't meet them, says people in Mumbai are more 'civil'
Actor Divyenndu talks about his short film 1800 LIFE, the fame Mirzapur has given him, and how he feel blessed to have explored multiple genres so early in his acting career.
Actor Divyenndu has come a long way from his Pyaar Ka Punchnama days. These days, he is Munna Bhaiya (see Mirzapur) and also much more. In fact, in between new films and new seasons of old shows, he even found time to work on a short film. In a candid chat with Hindustan Times, the actor talks about his new short film 1800 LIFE, how he finds his fame puzzling, and why he felt like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in Bollywood. Also read: Divyenndu aka Munna Bhaiya from Mirzapur: OTT is a much more happier space for every artiste
1800 LIFE is Amazon miniTV’s sci-fi thriller, which deals with the camouflaged aspects of technology, that is part of almost every aspect of daily life in today’s day and age. The film, directed by Maanavi Bedi, also features Shruthy Menon, and released on April 22. Talking about his decision to do a short film in between other projects, Divyenndu says, “It’s fun to do a short film in between because it takes me back to my roots in film school and theatre days in Delhi. You get to express yourself without worrying too much about the financial things. There are no boundaries here.”
He says that apart from the creative satisfaction, the film’s ‘unique’ theme also drew him towards the project. “The theme is pretty unique. We are talking about AI in the film and we haven’t had too many stories talking about AI interference in our life and in a very dark way. It’s a solo act by myself with just a voice. So, a lot of new things to experiment,” he elaborates.
Over the last few years, even as Divyenndu has done diverse roles, a lot of his projects have been dark, action-packed, and gritty. It is in complete contrast with some of his first roles, which were in comedies like Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Chashme Baddoor. Calling this graduation his ‘natural calling,’ Divyenndu says, “The funny boy-next-door, happy-go-lucky guy was an accident for me. Coming from a film school, I always thought of doing parallel cinema and indie stuff but there I was with my first film Pyaar Ka Punchnama a commercial success, second film with David Dhawan (Chashme Baddoor) and it just happened. I was Alice in Wonderland or Candyland. It was a different experience for me. That’s where you thank your training as an artiste because it came really handy.”
But the actor feels fortunate that he got to display his acting chops in diverse genres so early in his career. He tells us, “With Pyaar Ka Punchnama on one side and Mirzapur one the other, it gave people more horizon to look into my world. I could show my artillery to the directors or the audiences. It helped me a lot in getting me recognition as a more complete artiste and maybe and not as someone who is only good at one thing.”
Although he found fame early, as his character Liquid in Pyaar Ka Punchnama was appreciated by fans, it was Mirzapur that made him a household name. The Prime Video web series saw him cast as a murderous son of a local strongman and won him a legion of fans. And Divyenndu says he sometimes finds it hard to digest that love. “Mirzapur took it to a different level only. The craze, specially in the heartland as you call it, people really love Munna (his character in the show) and they really express themselves. You always meet a lot of people whenever I’m shooting in UP or MP. Whenever I’m coming out of my vanity, boys go ‘Bhaiya me bhaiya Munna Bhaiya!’ I have heard chants at airports,” he says.
He has found that it is in the northern part of India where this love for Munna is the most intense. He recounts an incident, “One time I was shooting for this show called Kanpuriye in Kanpur in a cyber café. There were hordes of people outside so the production asked me to leave via the back door since it was really crowded. These guys really got angry so they broke the glass of the shop. In those parts, it gets really intense also. In Mumbai, when I step out, people recognise me but they are more civil and don’t really encroach in your territory. In other places, it’s fascinating.” But the actor isn’t complaining. He adds after a pause, “When you see someone loving a character so much, I myself feel how. It’s a blessed feeling to have because the guy does not exist. The pure suspension of disbelief is amazing.”
While his short film 1800 LIFE is currently streaming on Amazon MiniTV, the actor is currently awaiting the release of his upcoming film Mere Desh Ki Dharti. Directed by Faraz Haider, the film also stars Anupriya Goenka and Anant Vidhaat, and is releasing on May 6. And while the third season of Mirzapur has officially been announced, it remains unclear whether Divyenndu will be seen in it. In the second season’s finale, his character was shown to be fatally wounded and his track ended on a cliffhanger. He also has a supporting role in Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra, which stars Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.