Dia Mirza has never been content to be ‘just an actress’. She passionately promotes various causes that are close to her heart, including water conservation, education of the girl child, save the tiger, fighting the plastic menace, working in the field of cancer and HIV or animal rights. In an interview to Hi! Blitz magazine, she speaks about how she wants to use her pedestal as a celebrity to promote greater good. “I think popularity can also lead you inward. When you feel loved by so many people and people are actually listening to what you say, then you can do something wonderful.” She admits that this gives her a deeper sense of purpose and believes that if she didn’t use the position she has been blessed to have she would feel ‘wasted as an entity’.
While the causes she supports appear diverse, Diya reasons that they are actually inter-linked, a full circle when one joins the dots. She avers, “Without trying to be very philosophical, I feel very connected to the world and I think my existence is deeply connected with everything. And I really live by this line that says, ‘What you do to the world in fact you do to yourself and what you do to yourself you are doing to the world’. And while I work mostly within the field of conservation, I understand how connected conservation is with health, education, social awareness…so how can I separate one from the other?”
Her own not-so-rosy-childhood could be a reason for her increased sensitivity to the less fortunate. She shares frankly that she has had a rough life. Her parents divorced when she was five and they both went on to marry different spouses. This created a childhood and upbringing that was unsettling. “But I’ve always been very optimistic and positive and I think that it is that very optimism that helps me to do the work that I do with various causes. I’ve tried so hard to initiate people that I love into the work I do, but sometimes they find it so hard. Like, I work with the Cancer Patients Association and I’ve been trying to get my mum to work with them but she says that she cannot deal with seeing those children so helpless; it guts her. And I think there has to be an inherent strength and optimism within that allows you to look beyond.”
It goes without saying that Dia, with her sensibilities, is not too similar to the popular perception of the Hindi film actress. Being forced to fit in, she admits, was stifling! “As a female actress especially you’re not expected to be intelligent, you’re not expected to question – if you do, you’re insulted. The industry finds it irritating when you ask questions. They’d rather you just look pretty and do your job,” she points out. “It has taken a lot of women writers, women directors and producers to change the attitude with which the industry operates with women. Fact of the matter is, there is a huge gender bias in our industry; it’s also very skewed-if you have eight per cent representation of women on a film set it’s abysmal! And then you also have women who are happy doing just that-mute spectators who look pretty and just smile.”
Dia Mirza would never fall in that category.