Neena Gupta has kicked off her second innings in Bollywood with two hit films this year — Veere di Wedding and the more recent Mulk. She also has some rather interesting projects lined up ahead — viz. Badhiya, which is all set to be released in 2019, the Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra-starrer Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, and Last Colour, in which she plays the lead role.
Neena tells she’s extremely happy, on the personal front as well as the professional front. “I experienced tough times and wonderful times in my first innings, and that’s repeating itself in my second innings too. I am very satisfied in life,” she says.
Reminiscing on her early days in the industry, she says, “In my first film, I played a simpleton, and I was tagged with that image thereafter. After doing choli ke peeche, only those kinds of roles started coming to me.”
“I started getting good offers to work in television shows, and those roles seemed more alluring,” she adds.
The actress who’s often perceived to be ferociously strong says that the façade that she had to put up during trying circumstances coloured people’s perception of her. “I had to be strong and fight against my personal setbacks while keeping my professional career afloat. That strong woman image also stopped me from getting good roles. Even recently, I was offered the chance to play a strong woman in a film. When I asked if I could play another character, I was told, ‘Woh ek bechari ka role hai’ (That’s the role of a helpless woman),” Neena says.
Talking about her daughter, the hugely successful fashion designer Masaba, she says, “She is very hard working and strong-willed girl. We’ve become friends now — we share clothes, jewellery, we shop together, and most importantly, we discuss everything and are on the same page.”
“Masaba is honest, like me. She can mock herself, like I do. And she is strong-willed like her father (Vivian Richards). She’s a great businesswoman and she has made an identity for herself in the fashion world,” the proud mother adds.
Talking about her brief relationship with cricketer Viv Richards, which Masaba is a product of, the actress says, “Basically, a very long distance relationship does not work. He lived saat saumundar paar (across the seven seas), and he agrees that that’s the reason our relationship didn’t work out.”
Today, the two share an amicable relationship, and Viv continues to be a presence in Masaba’s life. “Masaba and Vivian regularly discuss their personal and professional lives. He has a woman in his life, and I’m good friends with his girlfriend. There’s no bad blood between us,” she says.
Meanwhile, Neena has also found love again. “Yes, I am married. It’s been 10 years now. We met on a flight — I think we were destined to meet. A woman exchanged her seat with him, and he ended up sitting next to me. He pretended not to recognise me and flirted away to glory. We dated for a few years, and then we got married. He’s a nice man, lives in Delhi, and has two daughters. Maintaining a relationship is tough, but I am learning to manage, and I’m happy. We visit one another frequently,” she says.
The actress signs off with a message to all women — “Never show a man that he is indispensable, or he will start taking advantage of you. Be financially independent, work hard, and love yourself or you will lose your identity.”