Neena Gupta on playing Kangana Ranaut’s mother in Panga: ‘I make a difference and have a distinct colour to my character’
Neena Gupta, the actor who defied all norms to play a middle-aged pregnant housewife in Badhaai Ho, is ready to win hearts with new performances now. With a 38-year-long career to boast of, Neena remains significant and irreplaceable even today. The actor has not just bounced back with tailor-made roles but is hungry for more challenging offers. The actor spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times about her desire to play an action role, motherhood and her next film with Kangana Ranaut. Excerpts:
Was it fun to shoot with a baby bump on sets of Badhaai Ho?
I had a lot of fun working on the film because the combination of actors, directors and unit people was amazing. Ayushmann (Khurrana) has a great sense of humour. We used to laugh at ourselves and really enjoy during the shoot.
Have you got your due in the film industry?
The dues are starting to come out but it will still take some time. There is a lot inside me that is yet to come out.
You take all as a tight-lipped daughter-in-law in Badhaai Ho. Would you have done the same in real life?
This is the reality; most of our women do the same. About 85-90% of Indian women are like this. You and me are the minority of 1%. It’s very natural, you don’t know what to do if you are married.
You played Sonam Kapoor’s mother in Veere Di Wedding who was always worried about her marriage despite her doing well in her profession. Are you the same in real life?
Yes. Like all mothers, I will also be worried about my daughter for everything. That’s in my DNA. Even when she will be 40, I would be worried about her. That’s normal.
You played Kunti in Mama’s Boys and a middle-aged wife in Khujli? Do you think middle-aged actors are getting the work they deserve? Are you open to experimentation?
Absolutely, anything that excites me. I didn’t quit, I didn’t get very good work. I think the time has come when things are changing. More and more good roles are coming up for my age. I am hoping to do some good work now.
Is there anything on your bucket list?
I want to do comedy and an action role. I want to play the main lead again.
Are you ready to play a negative role?
No, I am not.
If you are asked about your own personal preferences, what type of role do you prefer the most -- your role in Veere Di Wedding, Badhaai Ho or the one in Saans?
I think Saans, because it had a lot of shades. It had lighter moments, emotional moments, serious and sensitive moments.
Have you ever felt attached to any role?
As an actor I am prepared for every role, that’s my profession. My profession is to change myself according to my role and I work hard on it. It’s not that I am like the character in real life so I can do that role. I have done a variety of roles on TV also.
Have you noticed a major change in the industry since you started 38 years ago?
It has changed a lot. Things have become more professional. People come on time and all the actors are very disciplined. The younger generation is very hard working.
Have you noticed any of your co-stars who you think can go far in their careers.
Ayushmann has already gone far in his career, he is a great guy. Sanya Malhotra also has a lot inside her. She is a dancer, a good actor and is very pleasant. She is very sweet and a very nice person. I think she will go far.
Like it happens between mothers and daughters, does Masaba Gupta influence your fashion sense? Do you also exchange career advices?
We both are very normal mother and daughter. We advise each other most of the time. But are we are our own persons and decide what we want to do on our own. But we are always open to each other’s thoughts.
You are working in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s Panga, which stars Kangana Ranaut as a kabaddi player? Tell us more.
I have a very small role but whatever it is, it’s very nice. I have a distinct colour to my character. I play Kangana’s mother but I make a difference. It’s a very interesting role.
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