Being Neena Gupta: “Whether I’m a vampire, a sati savitri or a dharmic character, it doesn’t matter”
What can we say about Neena Gupta that has not already been said? Perhaps one of the most talented actors we have in the business today, the actor is a living example of how time or age doesn’t matter in the face of talent.
After his groundbreaking performance in Badhaai Ho !, Neenaji was part of several projects that made us think, laugh, cry or just marvel at his performance. But the Compose 100 trailer, in which she plays with Manoj Bajpayee, her character Seema Pallav was a revelation. Who would have thought that she could scare you or make you crawl?
Neena shares that she was thrilled to be offered a role with storylines and shades of gray, especially since she had already played quite a few roles where she was a housewife, mother or the like. But when asked if she needs to prepare differently to bring Seema to life, the actor gave a glimpse into her process.
“My approach is pretty much the same. For me two things are important. First of all, I have to watch the part with my costume, my hair and my makeup. Second, I have to think through what I’m saying; Whether I’m a vampire, a sati savitri, or a dharmic character, it doesn’t matter. In addition, I always listen to the other actors.
She has worked in theater, film, television and now works extensively in shows and movies for streaming platforms. But was she suspicious or hesitant to act for the web after so many years of working in more traditional media? “Mujhe koi fark nahin padta”, she jokes frankly.
“My role must be good. I have to act at the end of the day right, what difference does it make ki movie hain ya OTT hain? Think about it, at times like this in particular, if we had only relied on movies, what would have happened during the pandemic? », Says.
What then was the content gap that OTT platforms have, according to her, been filling? “See if you only give the audience dal chawal, voh vahin khate rahenge. Unko pata hi nahin chalega ki chicken bhi hota hain, meetha bhi hota hain, ”she explains with a fun food analogy, illustrating the wider options and diversity of storytelling that Indian audiences are now enjoying. With the opening of a whole new medium for storytelling, Neena adds that there is now a lot more work for artists at all levels.
Last year, she was part of Panchayat, where she played Manju Devi, who is the sarpanch on paper but an unconventional woman who manages to make the selfish or ignorant men around her understand.
In Masaba Masaba, she played a fictional version of herself in a series that gave us a glimpse into the world of Neena Gupta and her famous fashion designer daughter Masaba. She was also part of the beautiful short film Pinni directed by Tahira Kashyap.
This year, while theaters remain closed, his films Sardar Ka Grandson and Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar have been released on streaming platforms. Later this year, she will reprise her characters in the second seasons of Panchayat and Masaba Masaba. She’s also said yes to other web series and two movies, which makes her perhaps one of the busiest players in the business today.
But is it easy for an actor who has been part of eclectic films like Mandi, Utsav and Sooraj Ka Satva Ghoda, to let go and be part of a light song like “Aunt kisko bola be” in the series? Masaba Masaba? “I was waiting to shoot this song. It’s the pleasure of being an actor. If you are clumsy, the audience will sense it. If there is real unease about something, I discuss it with the creators. But if not, once you’ve accepted a role, you have to work with total conviction, ”she says.
As she shares genres or characters on her wishlist, Neena says, “This is just the start for me. There are so many things I want to do. I want to do the roles of Waheedaji, the Shabana roles, maybe playing a cop, or in my case a retired cop maybe, ”she adds with her wit that characterizes her videos and posts on her Instagram page.
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