No Love Only Lust Between Men & Women — Does Neena Gupta Speak The Truth For Us?

Neena Gupta’s take on love between a man and woman opens a can of worms. She’s speaking her truth, which is a reality for so many people, but is it universal?

Neena Gupta made a statement in her interview with Humans of Bombay that she doesn’t believe love exists between a man and a woman. She said it starts off with lust, which then changes into affection, and becomes a habit. The only love she’s ever known and felt is for her daughter, Masaba.

Neena is married to Vivek Mehra, a chartered accountant who she first met on a flight. Vivek Mehra has two children, and it’s his second marriage. It’s Neena’s second marriage too. She was earlier married at an early age of 20. She has one child, Masaba, from her previous relationship with the now retired West Indian cricketer, Vivian Richards.

Her statement about love evoked some vehement reactions ranging from she’s not met the right man to “blood runs thicker than water”.

Are lust and love elusive for the Indian woman?

I’ve always thought of Neena Gupta as someone being brutally honest. It’s not easy to live like that in our cloaked and judgemental world.

She said in the interview“Ye sab wo lust hota hai shuru me, uske baad (there is lust in the beginning, but after that) it can take any direction, you marry or you go to somebody else. It’s only with a child – that love I feel that I can do anything for her. For my husband I will do, I do a lot, but I will not do anything for him like I will do for Masaba. I don’t know; other people might have felt, but mujhe nahi love samajh mein aata (I don’t understand that love).

Neena Gupta’s take on love between a man and woman opens a can of worms. She’s speaking her truth, which is a reality for so many people.

It’s interesting how Neena Gupta touched upon the aspect of lust as the first element that attracts and bonds a man and woman. Yet 70% of Indian women have not experienced an orgasm according to a survey by Durex Condom.

For the Indian woman, lust and love are a ‘duty’ to fulfil her man’s needs and desires with no expectations in return, other than the social respect owing to her marital status.

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When the basic needs of lust are not fulfilled for most Indian women yet, it’s pointless to sermonise about love (which lies in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs triangle) between a man and woman now. While some might criticise Neena Gupta’s cynical opinion on love based on her lived experiences, she’s close to the practical truth in the Indian society.

What’s love got to do with it

Neena Gupta also said in another interview how money is the greatest thing in the world and it can even buy you love.

Her statement reminded me of Mahesh Bhatt’s interview on the Rendezvous with Simi Garewal show. He shared a similar outlook, albeit a tad more radical and brutal. He said money is the only thing that matters in the world. And family is the most exploitative unit in society devised to control the free human spirit. He added that his family wouldn’t be bothered about him if he didn’t have money and he cannot rely on anybody. He was confident that his family would be happy when he died to inherit his fortunes.

I’ve had committed and married men hit on me, despite my marital status. I find their outlook on love similar to Neena Gupta. Almost all of them sing the same tune. How they ‘care’ about their wives but don’t love them. Or that the relationship with their wife is more ‘brother-sister’ now. But they all seem to love their children unconditionally. I’ve also had women confide they are okay with physical infidelity in their marriage, but would be worried if their husband were emotionally cheating on them.

To each their own.

Love means different things to different people

Neena Gupta, Mahesh Bhatt, or anyone else’s take on love is their truth and reality.

While they speak for so many people, I don’t think it’s the absolute truth. We have some beautiful love stories in the world that are as pure, fervent, and unconditional as the love between a mother or father, and child. It’s also true that not all biological parents are loving towards their children, and some can be negligent or abusive to them.

In a contrast to Neena Gupta’s take on love, her husband Vivek Mehra has spoken about their marriage – “It has been outstanding. No politics, no conspiracies, just love.”

My idea of love swings between idealism and practicality. I’m a die-hard romantic and optimist at heart. I believe love makes the world go around. It’s the oxygen that keeps us going. For me, both physical and emotional fidelity are important and it’s a deal breaker if either doesn’t exist in the relationship. I refuse to be an option in anyone’s life.

I don’t consider money as the most important thing in the world. While there’s no denying the importance of money, I’d place connections, health, and personal growth rooted in purpose and character far above it any day.

The best thing about love, like intelligence, is that it’s versatile and multifaceted. May we all find love, in whatever form—in us and around us.

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Tina Sequeira

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