In this candid chat, anchor and actor Dhivyadarshini opens up about getting into television as a child, how she responds to trolls on social media, her films and more.

Child star Ulaviravu and online abuse Anchor Dhivyadharshini opens upFacebook/ Dhivyadharshini
Flix Interview Tuesday, March 06, 2018 - 16:45

For someone who has interviewed quite a number of people on TV shows like Koffee with DD and Anbudan DD, television show host and actor Dhivyadharshini is quite elusive when it comes to her being the interviewee.

The popular anchor was recently seen in Gautham Vasudev Menon’s single, Ulaviravu, opposite Malayalam star Tovino Thomas and is quite busy shuttling between sets. DD has also made a few brief appearances on the big screen in films like Nala Damayanti and Whistle. Her comeback last year in Dhanush’s Pa Paandi was well received as well.

Having entered television very young, DD has grown to become a household name today in Tamil Nadu. From sharing that she was ten when she hosted her first programme to having jitters before every show even today, the anchor and actor opens up to TNM in this interview over a cup of tea.

You stared your career pretty young. Tell us about the early days.

I started anchoring with Vijay TV when I was in 9th standard. My very first show with them was Nutrine Maha Lacto Ungal Theerpu. The makers wanted an adolescent anchor, so I auditioned. From there I went on to host Kollywood Show, Superhit Songs etc. I also remember going to Hyderabad for a Filmfare curtain raiser when I was in the 12th standard. Red carpets and curtain raisers are pretty common now but those were the times when nobody knew how to do it. We had to figure it out as a team.

But to be very honest, my very first TV show was for Sun TV. It was called Siruvar Nigazhchi and I was ten years old. I had actually gone to the studio to meet my sister who was hosting shows for Sun TV and they wanted a kid to host the show. It was a quiz programme and I had to ask the questions. From then on, I’ve only been asking the questions; I don't like answering them [laughs]. But I remember the show was very taxing for me as a kid. I had to memorise lines and my director used to write the lines in Tamil very fast. I don't know if Sun TV will have those videos but I did about 25 episodes for that show.

You’ve also acted in TV soaps...

I haven't done many serials, I just did two. One was Balachander Sir’s Rekkai Kattiya Manasu and the other was Radhika Ma’am's Selvi. I was 18 when I did Rekkai Kattiya Manasu and that was a very nice experience for me. All the actors were very experienced and the roles were all pretty serious, too. That was also the time when we had live recordings. I remember memorising huge lines and we rarely went for dubbing. So this one time when we had to dub, I remember Balachander Sir was also present and when I finished, he came up to me and said 'Very good Very Good' - seven times. That remains a very special compliment for me on my work which I’ll always cherish. But eventually, I had to give up doing TV serials because I also wanted to concentrate on my studies.

From there you went to reality TV? 

The change came in 2006 and the first show that brought it in was Vijay TV’s Jodi No 1. That's when everyone had a nice changeover in TV. I did Jodi No 1 and then the other reality shows.

But previously, before this, I was in radio for a short while. I was an RJ with Radio One and briefly with Big FM but I gave up because I felt I wasn't a great RJ. It might be surprising, but just because you’ve had lot of experience in TV doesn't mean you can be good in radio. I gave up because I felt I wasn't able give my 100%.

But with TV, it has been a great experience for me. I did everything... right from cookery shows and almost every show that Vijay TV has had, I would’ve hosted. So it is very sentimental for me in that sense.

You were a contestant yourself in one of the shows, weren't you?

Yes! I love dancing. Even in school, I’d always sign up for dance competitions. Dancing is my way of venting out. With just orange juice, I could keep dancing all night. So I did Jodi season four with choreographer/actor Sathish.

Having started that young, you were balancing studies and TV shows. How did you manage? 

My teachers in school were very understanding. When I was in college, sometimes I’d sleep in class because I’d be tired from the shoots but my teachers were always very understanding. It was also the time when I had lost my father so I took pretty much everything that came my way. I was constantly working very hard and trying to catch up with studies.

I also gave a lot of importance to my studies. I did my masters and M.Phil in travel and tourism and I’m also doing my PhD. So when I was teaching, I briefly took a break. This was perhaps in 2012 - I can’t recall - but during the time when I was a teacher, I never did stage shows. I never went overseas because I was a young teacher and I was very invested in my job.

Your sister is also an anchor. Has she influenced your style? Where do you take your inspirations from?

I grew up watching my sister host shows. Even today, she gives me lines. Sometimes, the lines I say on TV might sound like mine but they’re actually hers. She’s an extremely good anchor.

I take inspirations from everywhere and I also try to keep it real. The thing about being a television show host is that you reach people’s homes - not just their houses. They invite you to their sofa. It’s actually a blessing to be able to gain such love from people.

I look up to my senior hosts like Vijay Aadhiraj, James Vasanthan, Pepsi Uma. I've seen them working and they’ve been doing it very respectfully.

You’ve interviewed a number of celebrities and you’re well known for being a very cheerful host. Were you always an outgoing person as a child?

Actually, on the contrary, I’m a very silent person in real life. I’ve got about six friends who’ve known me for a long time and it’s always with them that I go out. In fact, when I'm home, people sometimes do not know that I’m there. I wouldn't call myself an extrovert.

Do you ever feel nervous before an interview or a show?

Always! Even before shooting for Ulaviravu, I was so nervous that I threw up in the morning. I always get jitters before hosting any show.

Tell us about your re-entry into cinema

I was still studying when I did films like Whistle and Nala Damayanthi and I knew I wasn't very involved in doing films back then. So when Dhanush Sir called me to do Pa Paandi I was a little doubtful. But he was so sure that I’d be able to do the character best. He said, “Every mother and every household will relate to it if you do it, DD” and I just didn't think twice after that.

In recent times, you’ve had people discussing your personal life on social media. How do you handle such attention and comments as a woman?

Mine was not overnight stardom. It was very gradual, so I was able to get accustomed to the attention I received in public spaces. Most times, I only look at the positive things people have to say to me. The negative comments that you get are all from social media. With about two million followers, there are probably like 20 negative comments. But why give them importance? I wouldn't shut myself up in a room just because 20 people have bad things to talk about me.

Having entered the media world very young, what do you think about movements like 'Me Too' and forums like the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) that has been started in Malayalam cinema?

I stared working in Vijay TV when I was 14 and I've always felt that I’ve been in a very protected environment. When I was in my teens, I used to go to parties where people used to drink and smoke but I also had good people around me like my boss, my earlier directors, who wouldn’t let anyone offer me a drink. Until today, I've remained a teetotaler. I also think that it’s up to individual experiences.

But I think the 'Me Too' campaign is good for people who are timid. People also have to understand that there are no shortcuts to success. There’s only the long, hard way. All women who have achieved today are here only because they’ve worked hard. One should always stay strong and be firm in saying 'No' when required.

Tell us about your experience in shooting for Ulaviravu and your upcoming projects.

Ulaviravu is a very nice experience for me and the response has been overwhelming. Gautham Sir is one of my favourite directors and to be able to work with him was a dream come true for me. Tovino, too, is a very sweet and kind co-star.

I have currently signed up with Gautham Sir for his upcoming Dhuruva Nakshatiram. It is a small role but a unique one and I loved playing it. I’ve also got Sarvam Taala Mayam with Rajiv Sir. As soon as I heard that legends like Nedumudi Venu Sir and Vineeth Sir are in it, I immediately signed up.

Now that you’ve got films coming your way, will you give up anchoring TV shows?

Never! I will always anchor. I think we’ve now reached the space where we can do both. Why would I give up anchoring which has helped me win so many hearts?

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