Veteran actor Neena Gupta claims that four decades after beginning her career, she has now reached a point where producers see her as a bankable performance. After the box office success of her 2018 film Badhaai Ho, Gupta's career took a turn for the better.
Neena Gupta reveals her objective to act as a bridge between mainstream and independent cinema; says, “I say no to stereotypical roles. And no mother roles”
In a recent interview Neena spoke about getting leading lady roles in her sixties being a huge thing for her. Neena told PTI, “This is a big deal for me. This is what I wanted throughout my career. You need that break where your film, in which you have a pivotal role, becomes a hit. That never happened to me in films, it happened on TV. When Badhaai Ho, in which I had a solid role, became successful, things changed. Then suddenly I became a very good actor. My market value rose. It is a business... If your market value is good then you will get lead roles.”
After making her film debut in 1982 with Saath Saath, starring Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval, Gupta claimed she had expected filmmakers to line up outside her home. However, fate had different ideas for her. She didn't achieve her goal of being a heroine, and for the majority of her career, she was cast in minor parts. She said, “There was a desire and dream... Like in Saath Saath, although I had a small comic role, I would think I have done such a good job that people would queue up outside my house (to work with me). But it is a different business. You cannot do a small comedy part in a film and expect to become a heroine because there is a thappa (tag) on you for small parts. We would yearn to get a good part and I never got it.”
Gupta claimed that, whether in commercial or independent film, it was challenging to land main roles during the 1980s and 1990s based only on talent. She thinks the majority of the directors sought out saleable faces when casting. “There was no chance of meeting the producer and director in commercial cinema. There was this parallel cinema and there again the main roles were going to Shabana (Azmi), Smita (Patil) and if it's a small (film), then Deepti (Naval). We had no chance in these films also. Shyam (Benegal) never gave me a major role. I have always played smaller parts in his films. So, the situation was similar in commercial cinema. It is a business, they want to take a saleable face," said the actor.
Gupta stated that as an actor, her current objective is to act as a bridge between mainstream and independent cinema. She makes it clear that she is not choosing any conventional mother roles. “I say no to stereotypical roles. And no mother roles. It is good that people are looking at women in different spaces," she said.
Meanwhile, on the professional front, Neena last appeared in Shiv Shastri Balboa starring alongside Anupam Kher in the lead role. It also featured actors like Jugal Hansraj, Nargis Fakhri, and Sharib Hashmi. The film hit the theatres on February 10.
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