Many chances came Neha Shetty's way. Luckily, the model, who won the 2014 Miss Mangalore pageant and was considering a career in Computer Science, grabbed hold of the right one. Mungaru Male 2 was hers and it won her the title of the ‘Male (rain) Girl’.
In 2006, Pooja Gandhi was the Mungaru Male Girl, after the film's 865-day run. The baton was passed to Neha, and she took it and ran.
Rarely does ambition meet luck, but it did, in Neha's life and career. After all, Mungaru Male is now a cult film and one that is praised for its excellence in filmmaking.
The film is certain to rake in profits, going by the buzz surrounding it. Neha is deliriously happy for it but also knows that the weight of expectations is heavy. “It is not easy for any heroine to have the ‘Male Girl’ title which has a huge following," she says. "Meeting expectations has been a challenge. Pooja (Gandhi) made a huge impact in the industry after Mungaru Male and the title which she carried has now been passed on to me. It is a huge responsibility because everybody has high expectations. Though it is not that I don't enjoy every moment of this. This sure feels good,” she says.
The budding actress says that she was fortunate to have bagged a film that people connected with so deeply. But, she asserts that, other than the title and lead actor Ganesh, there is not much that is similar. “Though the previous film saw fabulous success, people have always liked to watch something fresh. The new elements in this film have seen a warm welcome. Mungaru Male 2 is a new concept with a fresh feel,” she states.
Rain can trigger different kinds of emotions, be it happiness, sorrow or excitement. Neha says that while the prequel captured all of them, Mungaru Male 2 goes beyond that. “The film delves into all the feelings that were unexplored or merely broached by Mungaru Male,” she notes.
Sharing her experience as a debutant facing Ganesh whom she idolised during her younger days after watching the film a decade ago, Neha does not hide her initial nervousness. “It would have been different had it been just another debut, but it was not so. I was associating with a director like Shashank and an actor like Ganesh. So I was facing everything that was monumental,” she says and adds that the film was a good training ground with the good support from the movie team.
“I remember how much I loved Mungaru Male. I was in tears when Ganesh was left heartbroken. After 10 years, the film is still fresh in my head. Ganesh is still as powerful an actor, so much so that in one emotional scene for Mungaru Male 2, I broke down,” she recollects.
While the 2006 film cannot be forgotten, she wants people to go with an open mind and heart to watch the fresh rains in her upcoming film.