‘Didn’t get the kind of work I wanted’
Her performances across television and films have brought her critical acclaim, but actor Neena Gupta says that except for a few projects, she was not offered the kind of roles she wanted to do on the big screen.
Neena has been in films like Gandhi, Mandi, and the 1994 release Woh Chikri, which won her a National Award for Best Supporting Actress. Even so, “there are a lot of regrets”, she says.
“I understood [that] it’s not just because of me, but also that this medium (cinema) needs a lot of other things besides talent,” adds Neena. “It’s your PR, your destiny to choose the right projects.”
On one occasion, she herself pushed away a plum project. “Once, I said no to a very good project because I didn’t believe in that story. But, if I had worked with that person, things would’ve been different,” she says ruefully.
Another reason why she may have lost out on the roles she deserved is her shyness, Neena feels. “[Bagging a role] depends on how pushy you are, and I’m basically a very shy person. I cannot go to somebody and say I want work,” she says.
The actor did work with the best of arthouse directors, such as G Aravindan and Shyam Benegal. Now she has ventured into the digital space for the second time, with the recently released short film Khujli. Directed by Sonam Nair, the 15-minute film narrates the story of a middle-aged couple who try to rekindle their sex life. Neena stars opposite Jackie Shroff.
“Web series is kind of liberating,” she says. “The results are immediate, you don’t have to wait. I really enjoy this space.”