Dia Mirza's journey from India's very first Miss Asia Pacific International in 2000 to an acclaimed actor, producer, nature champion, eco-entrepreneur, and the UN Secretary General's Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals with a global platform is path-breaking, to say the least. Today, as a doting mother, she is leading a very satisfying personal and creative life.
Talking about how her career has charted out, she says, "When I look back, I realise that I have taken every big and small decision with complete conviction and never let circumstances or societal pressures change my trajectory. There is great joy in carving your own path and in exercising agency in every aspect of your life."
Dia Mirza continues to display the same mindful decision-making in the roles she is choosing today and says, "Yes, I tend to gravitate towards characters that do their bit to break gender stereotypes. Over the years, I have come to see a bit of me in them and a bit of them in myself because regardless of their circumstances, they have held on to a certain point of view and a very clear idea of who they are. "
Her recent work in Sakshi Gurnani's short film 'Gray,' in Anubhav Sinha's feature 'Thappad' and her award-winning portrayal of Kainaaz in the Zee5 series 'Kaafir' encompassed diverse female characters who had something important to say. Says Dia Mirza, "I played a therapist in 'Gray' who simplifies the meaning of consent for a survivor of forced intimacy. In 'Thappad,' my character Shivani Fonseca, was a strong, independent, single woman who refuses to gaslight a victim of domestic abuse and very firmly articulates her take on the matter. Kainaaz of course was a deep dive into a woman's trauma whose humanity has been brutalised by border politics. Yet, her resilience, grace and dignity are phenomenal."
Dia Mirza is also very excited about her forthcoming film 'Dhak Dhak'. This is a road movie about the journey of a lifetime where she plays a hijab-clad biker. "She demolishes preconceived notions about her identity to join three women on a trip to the highest motorable pass in the world," says Dia Mirza.
Directed by Tarun Dudeja, the film also features Fatima Sana Sheikh, Ratna Pathak and Sanjana Sanghi. Adding about her character, Dia Mirza says, "The character I am playing in 'Dhak Dhak' demonstrates that a woman's identity can transcend her name and she gets to define who she is. She reminded me of countless women who quietly and courageously go beyond unimaginable odds every day to realise their dreams."
She hopes, such stories will spark conversations about gender and identity and pave the way for more clutter-breaking stories. "As a producer too, I am looking for stories that will not just entertain but provoke thought and will make a difference in the way people think about vital issues that concern all of us," concludes Dia Mirza.