Neena Gupta: Not been even a year and I’ve already done five films
Actor Neena Gupta says that past nine months have been a great experience as she shot for not one but five films back to back. She adds that she doesn’t care whether a role is commercial or artistic and that it has to get her excited.Updated: May 29, 2018 17:45 IST
Last July, veteran actor Neena Gupta took to social media and wrote, “I live in Mumbai and working. I’m a good actor and looking for good parts to play.” It was pretty shocking to see such a seasoned actor asking for work like this. But almost a year later, the actor has her schedule packed with not just one, but five films in her kitty. In a freewheeling conversation, Neena talks about being in a “happy space”, kind of films she’d like to do and reveals the one she’ll always regret not doing.
How would you describe these nine months since you started shooting again?
It’s been a great experience and I’ve had the best time of my life. Ek saal bhi nahi hua aur mene paanch films kar li. Kisi ki nazar na lag jaaye mujhe (laughs). I hope people still like me. I’m now waiting for more films. You see, I’ve become very greedy.
Would you credit your Instagram post for all this work you’ve got?
It did push things to a great extent. The first person, who offered me a film (Mulk) after this post was Anubhav Sinha, and it was a great role. Then Rhea [Kapoor] came home and since she is Masaba’s (Fashion designer; Neena Gupta’s daughter) friend, so when she told me about Veere Di Wedding, I accepted. After that came Dibakar Banerjee for Sandeep and Pinky Faraar and then a very beautiful film, Amit Sharma’s Badhaai Ho came my way. I have also done a very special film, The Last Color, directed by Vikas Khanna.
Was it difficult to switch between characters one after the other?
I’m shocked that I got to do such varieties of roles in a short span of time. Also, it’s unbelievable that at my age, I got a chance to play all these substantial and solid parts. You’ll be nicely shocked to see me in some of the films, especially Badhaai Ho.
Did you ever feel that you should have put up that post much earlier?
I wish I did that. But har cheez ka time hota hai. All you can do is keep working hard. People often used to ask when did I come to Mumbai and if I was still working and I used to get angry but I didn’t share with anyone. It reached to a point where I couldn’t take it, and I decided to take it to social media.
Would you now stick to commercial cinema or explore offbeat roles as well?
Commercial or artistic, if it’s a good role, I’m good to go. When I read the script, it either excites me or it doesn’t excite me — simple! And then, if you’re in a mood to compromise or if you need money that you have to do something, then you explain yourself the logic — ‘it’s fine, so what if the film isn’t that great, at least my part is good. Let’s do it, maybe it’ll benefit me.’ There was a stage when I also used to think like that, as I needed money, but fortunately, that’s not the case now and I can live comfortably.
Do you feel that if you turn down a film, it’ll backfire in any way?
It backfired once, and very badly. It was an Aparna Sen film, which I said no to, after saying yes and she never cast me again despite there being roles that I could have fit in. I think she got very upset and it was actually my fault. I agreed but then started with my dance practice and then went to America… I don’t remember what exactly happened — mera dimaag kharab ho gaya tha. I said no and that was it. That’s one film I’ll always regret not doing, but you learn from your mistakes.
After that, how did you ensure that you refuse an offer in the best way?
I never make bahanas or excuses or say main busy hoon, ya focus nahi kar sakti and all that. I just say it has not excited me enough, because what’s the point of working if it’s not challenging or exciting. How you say no is very important and I don’t think that people get nasty; they respect your decision.
Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal