Sunny side up: Dhivyadharshini

It has been only a month since the second season of the TV show Enkitta Mothatha began airing and quite a few viewers are gratified to see Dhivyadharshini or DD as she’s popularly known, back on the silver screen with her unique brand of happy-go-lucky charm. Whether you remember her from her child-anchor days or from her widely popular show Koffee with DD, she is a familiar face across Tamil Nadu for the past two decades. DD is now completing 20 years in her career and it is a very special moment for a lot of people including those who have been following her since her childhood days. Here’s what this peppy, vivacious diva had to say, when we caught up with her, recently…

20 years of DD. How did it all begin?

I think I was in class 9 then – a mere 13-year-old. I got back from school and was told there was an audition. We got into an Ambassador car. We went to that place in Parrys; I changed from school uniform to Tshirt and jeans and gave the audition. They gave me six lines. I had no idea what was going on, or what I was about to do. I said those six lines and somebody said, “OK, our anchor is ready!” That is all I remember. Even this bit, I remember because the man who took the audition tape away is still working at Vijay TV. Shekhar anna still asks me, “Do you remember? I was the one who took the tape in.” I remember that my first salary was around Rs 1000.

You’ve been spreading positivity for so many years now. How do you do it?

We only have to look at it one day at a time and that would be enough. What do you have to do today? Decide and do it. That is important. Superstar Rajinikanth himself has said it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday as the industry only looks at what you are doing today. If people like him feel that way, then the likes of me needn’t worry about more. That’s how I get by. I do not plan ahead or work for a big goal or something… Every day, I keep it nice, simple and happy. That’s all.

If you see beautiful things, the world looks beautiful to you. If you speak charming words, you appear beautiful to the world! – I live by this maxim.

What has been the biggest learning for you? What is the difference between the little kid DD and the DD in front of the camera now?

There is this saying: ‘If you see beautiful things, the world looks beautiful to you. If you speak charming words, you appear beautiful to the world’. So I think one should say nice things to people. The world needs more of that kind of people. Isn’t that the reason why people like me? What else could the reason be… It is all in the attitude. Growing up, as a teenager, I used to have bad acne problems. I used to get messages on Orkut saying: “She looks bad! why is she still continuing!” I was also a child and this used to hurt me a lot. I remember thinking to myself, “Ok, they may not like how I look. I should learn to speak in a winning manner.” As for changes… I should have become wiser, but that never happened (laughs). Maybe, I’m more sensitive to other people now than I was as a child. Now I know to think of the next person more.

What is a memorable thing a fan has done for you?

There are many instances! When somebody says, ‘I would like to raise my child to be brave like you,’ it touches me every single time. They live so far away, but still, think well of me. A lot of people call me strong – fathers, mothers, young boys. It touches me emotional always. Somebody aspiring to be like me in itself is a huge thing. When mothers say, “I always tell my girl to be brave like you,” I think to myself, ‘am I really that brave?” I love fans like that. Some aunties pinch my cheeks hard! And sometimes people ask me for hugs; it never fails to melt my heart.

A moment when you felt a sense of accomplishment?

I think there have been moments that gave me satisfaction rather than a sense of accomplishment. When I am able to help support a child’s education without having to ask for help or permission from somebody else, that gives me satisfaction.

What do you think has been your best work so far?

All shows that I’ve done have a place in my heart and picking one is difficult. The advent of reality shows has changed TV a lot. After I began hosting reality shows, I would say Jodi No. 1 was really special. That was the first time people saw me really fool around and dance. It was a memorable show. Also, they trusted me enough to give me a show like Koffee with DD, and that was special. Koffee.. is irreplaceable. It was a boon, really. Once in a while, somebody asks me if Koffee with DD will be airing again? It makes me smile. Maybe we should look into the possibilities.

We only have to look at life one day at a time and that would be enough. Every day, I keep it nice, simple and happy. That is all.

If you had to thank three people, who would that be?

Other than my own family, who have been nothing but supportive, Pradeep Milroy Peter – my boss from Vijay TV. He has always looked after me as if I were his own child. From the age of 13, when we were out shooting in a different city, he would tuck me in at night and tell me, “don’t be wandering around in the night, you should be quietly sleeping here.” Back then I didn’t know why he was being that protective, now I realize I was blessed that way. There would always be a lady producer to stay in my room after shoots. He never yells at anybody – any star will tell you that. But I’ve gotten yelled at. I’ve written impositions – saying I won’t do this or that at shooting sets, and the like… I’ve written a letter to apologize once. He taught us discipline.  Then, there are some teachers who taught me my values. There was a Mrs. Dawson in class 12, to whom I’m eternally grateful. In class 12, I was too busy working. I wasn’t able to go to school mostly. One day, I got called to the staff room for lack of attendance. I was standing there all scared and thinking, “this is it. My school life is over.” Because I hardly went to school! And when I was at school, I would be too tired and sleep in class. So they called me in; Mrs. Dawson looked at me for a second – I was standing there with eyes already full and brimming with tears. Silence, for like two seconds, and then after a pause, she says, ‘go to your class.’ I didn’t get it at all. I was bracing myself for “Call your mother, go to the principal.” She came into the class a while later and announced the name of the kids who had to bring parents because of attendance shortage. But my name was not on the list! Years later I found out that it was because the school staff knew I had a valid reason for being absent. It wasn’t like I bunked classes. They knew my reason. And isn’t that a teacher’s priority anyway, knowing why a child is absent. If she wasn’t understanding and didn’t let me write my public exam back then, I couldn’t have studied as much as I have. My HOD at college, Jayashree Prabhakar, also used to look after me similarly.

The anchor remembers predecessors like James Vasanthan, Uma Padmanabhan, Pepsi Uma… and is happy to take life one day at a time. When asked who should act as DD, should a biopic be taken, she gushes Trisha! Because, Trisha can look like a 13-year-old, no problem, and then also play a 30-year-old with equal ease. With such quick reasoning being served with such happiness we can only wish that she would always remain the way she is – sunny side up!