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An extremely talented but under-appreciated actor, Neena Gupta is now being discovered by younger viewers, thanks to Badhaai Ho. An interview with the actor that is all at once frank, easy, and strangely funny.
When Neena Gupta entered our daily lives through Saans, Kamzor Kadi Kaun, and Ladies Special in the late 90, many of us never realized that she was a prolific actor with a huge body of work.
If you think of it she was the silent fifth side of the quartet (Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Naseerudin Shah and Om Puri) that formed the core of the parallel cinema in India in the 70s. She starred in legendary movies such as Gandhi, Mandi, Rihaee, Woh Chokri, Trikal, Suraj ka Satvan Ghoda and so many more. Neena Gupta’s talent unfortunately could not be tapped very well and recently, it was Badhaai Ho that really catapulted her to the attention of many younger viewers.
In an endearing interview with Film Critic Rajeev Masand rightfully part of the series ‘Women We love’ she expresses the joy of finding success at the age of 60. To be pitted against Alia Bhatt for the Filmfare Best Actress award was a dream come true for the talented artist.
In this interview, Neena Gupta talks about various milestones in her career and the difficult phases as well. Frank, easy and also strangely funny Neena was very candid when she spoke about how she posted on Instagram that she was living in Mumbai and looking for a good acting gig. For someone who has been a prolific artist and notable achiever, this was inspiring. In a culture where even new actors hesitate to publicly ask for work, Neena openly admitted to not having good work and wanting more.
If we look at her filmography she has starred in many path-breaking films and television series in the 70s and 80s that changed the narrative drastically. Be it her role in Buniyaad, or her National Award winning performance in Woh Chokri she really has been the catalyst in this period of Parallel cinema. And yet she confesses to wanting all of Shabana’s roles if given a chance. How refreshing and honest was that!
She also spoke about her single motherhood which of course has become her first line of introduction for so many years. After dating Sir Viv Richards, the cricketer, Neena raised their daughter Masaba all by herself with her dad and brother being her pillars of support. Despite the controversy and finger pointing, she raised her daughter with all grace and grit. While she lost out on potential work, her just being herself and not trying to make a statement, gave hope to a lot of women that it was ok to falter but it’s important to your own decisions.
Neena is also is an amusing dichotomy of a personality. On the one hand, she is unabashed about life, about not being employed by her close friends. And on the other end she is also conventional about how life should be lead or being shy of asking for work when she was considered for some interesting films. For example, she lost out on a film with Shekhar kapur because she was expecting him to call as he had mentioned to her on a flight.
Her life has been a creative journey which was perhaps not appreciated enough in her earlier years but is now being lauded for her new innings that began at 60 and how. And all that what I want to say to her is: Badhaai Ho!
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I am the quintessential ya-ya girl, but also the silent rebel. I love fiction,
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