Can’t sell a film on my name, says Neena Gupta

Veteran actor Neena Gupta talks about the second phase of her career, the roles  being offered and being a single mother to Masaba 

Published: 23rd February 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd February 2020 02:00 PM   |  A+A-

The femme fatale of the 90s, Neena Gupta

The femme fatale of the 90s, Neena Gupta

The femme fatale of the 90s, Neena Gupta says that life has come to a full circle as she is getting roles that she desires. “I am enjoying this phase as an actor. I am getting good roles, earning good money and positive reviews. Badhaai Ho was a turning point for my career. People are offering me good roles now. There are so many platforms to showcase your talents. When I came into the industry, there was only Doordarshan. Now platforms have increased. Content-based movies are being made and people are investing in such films. Smaller films are being made and everybody is getting a lot of work,” says the actor.

Neena, who started her career in 1982, has been on and off in front of the camera. “After a certain period art films were not being made. Television took over and I worked in over 100 shows. Too many ‘saas-bahu’ serials took over. People started offering me small roles in TV serials. Now, I am happy I am getting to work with filmmakers such as Anand L Rai, Nikhil Advani and Luv Ranjan. My next is a film with Arjun Kapoor, Rakulpreet, Kanwaljeet Singh, Divya Seth and Soni Razdan.”

But despite the work coming her way, pay parity has been an issue and Neena feels it’s a “global issue”. “It’s changing gradually now. But I am not jumping anywhere because I am not Akshay Kumar and I can’t sell a film on my name. I am only looking forward to good roles. I want Masaba to be happy and I want creative satisfaction when it comes to work. I want to do films like  Meryl Streep does in the West. There are so many characters I would love to play. I just hope our industry gets out of the age issue.”  

There was a buzz that she is doing  Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi next with Akshay Kumar. However, Neena says she is no longer doing the film. “I shot for three days but that track didn’t work out so I am no longer doing it. I have finished shooting for director Rajeev Barnwal’s Gwalior with Sanjay Mishra and then there’s a web series Masaba Masaba that will be released in March. Then, there’s a TVF web Also, Panchayat that will come out on Amazon. I also have a role in Chef Vikas Khanna’s directorial debut The Last Colour and I am doing Nikhil Advani’s untitled film,” she elaborates.

On the web series with her daughter, Neena says, “Masaba Masaba is based on my daughter Masaba’s life. She is making her acting debut. It will be produced by Ashwin Yardi and directed by Sonam Nair. I am playing her mother. Working with her in front of the camera gave me so much happiness. I am sure youngsters will love it.” On being a single mother, Neena says, “It was a difficult phase. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it. Practically, being a single mother is difficult.

When you are married you share a lot of responsibilities. My mother passed away early. She had done a double master’s degree in political science and Sanskrit. When she did her master’s degree, she was pregnant with me. She was idealistic and honest. And I think I have taken her idealism and my father’s practicality. My brother has also become idealistic like her. He is too emotional so the idealism troubled him. My father was more practical. He was the rock solid support in my life and the man of my life.  I took the best of both my parent and that helped me sail through.”

The 60-year-old, who is playing mother to Ayushmann Khurrana yet again in the recently released Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, says same-sex relationships are “normal”.  She further adds, “I hope people will open up to such relationship. In India it will take centuries to break the barrier. I have a lot of friends from the LGBT community. It’s a biological construct. I think God has made everyone differently and we have to just accept people for who they are,” she ends.


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