Four years is a long time to be waiting in the aisles. Yet in terms of the film industry its just another four years.

And these four years haven't changed actress Neha one bit.

"I'm still the same. I keep asking my friends, whether they think I'll ever grow up?"

Rahul and Fiza didn't exactly work wonders for her career but Neha's has her fingers crossed for Mahesh Manjrekar's Ehsaas co-starring Sunil Shetty. She's hoping that this one will break the spell and do the trick at the BO.

Pratiksha Arora in conversation with the budding actress.

Ehsaas centers on a father-son relationship. Where do you fit in?

I play Antra, a widow. A confident working woman. She's not a caricature, she's very real person.

She is not bitter about life, not the typical bahu who's always at loggerheads with the mother-in-law.

There is no breeze blowing with a sad song in the background with me dressed in a white sari.

Shot against a Goan backdrop, I am Sunil Shetty's neighbour and share a great equation with him and his ten-year-old son.

In fact, my character and Sunil's son are great friends. He talks to me about everything under the sun and is not in awe of me. He even calls me by name.

What was the experience working with Mahesh Manjrekar like?

I was thrilled when I was asked to meet him.

It wasn't the way he narrated a scene that made me jump up and say yes. It was the script in its entirety that was so emotional, it really had me excited.

As a director, he is great fun to work with -- always upbeat, on the go. He knows exactly how to motivate you and how to make even difficult things look easy.

He won't go on and on-- "We are doing a different kind of film. You have to give your best." No chest pumping dialogues.

He just lets you approach the scene, the way you like it and knows how to extract what he wants out of you.

What makes him different is that he makes the whole process of filmmaking look very simple. He is always focused at the film on hand, despite working on so many projects.

Also, he is continuously buzzing with great story ideas.

Your hopes must be pinned on Ehsaas, especially after Fiza and Rahul?

There is a lot of speculation about Ehsaas, because it is Mahesh Manjrekar's next film.

As for me, I am sitting pretty. I don't have any expectations from the film, but from myself.

At the end of the day, if I know I have done a good job, satisfied my director and grown as an actress then I have met my expectations.

Of course, if the film is successful, then there is more work at the helm. If there isn't I am willing to wait for films and good scripts to happen to me.

I have always taken long breaks in my career and I would rather not get swayed into doing a commercial project with three heroes, two songs and four scenes.

I want to make an impact-- something I learnt playing Shehnaz in Fiza. I accepted the role knowing that it was a short, yet, well defined.

All the films I have done so far have been different and have given me an opportunity to grow as an actress.

Like they say if you do your role right, you are bound to get noticed irrespective of whether your film does well or not.

Your films have not fared well at the Box office.

Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet was successful, but since it didn't do well in Bombay, it was shrugged off by the industry.

Rahul, in my view, suffered from a bad promotion strategy. When the film was not doing well, we all just gave up on it, washed our hands off the film very early.

Yash Pathak was the center of the entire attention in the film. Sure, it was a story from his perspective, but the film didn't focus enough on the adult issues. We came across as a bunch of jerks.

Personally, I wasn't convinced about the reasons why a mother would leave her 8-month-old son and walk out of his life like my character did. To me it seemed very trivial, but then today things break for the smallest of reasons.

I worked very hard on my role in the film. In fact that scene where she is supposed to meet him after four years gave me sleepless nights. I wondered how she would feel when she holds him for the first time. I wondered where do I draw the experiences. Somehow we managed to pull it off.

How does criticism affect you? There has been a fair bit coming your way with Rahul?

I don't think critics were harsh about my performance. I think the biggest reason for criticism is that the film does not do well. Someone has to bear the brunt of the failure.

I'm not cynical about the industry, it is very transparent. What we don't like, we chuck it out.

Despite my films not doing well, if I was appreciated and haven't been shown the door. That says a lot about the expectations that people have from me.

How would you compare Vidhu Vinod Chopra with Mahesh Manjrekar or Prakash Jha?

Each director has his own vision. Each sees something new in you. If David Dhawan thought I was capable of delivering perfect comic timing to suit his films, he would cast me. Besides, I don't think cliques or groups work.

I wasn't upset when VVC (Vidhu Vinod Chopra) decided to cast someone else in Mission Kashmir. After Kareeb, Vidhuji wanted to work with a more established actress.

Unlike other actresses' one never sees you in the spotlight? Any reason for staying low profile.

I would like my work to speak for me. And when I haven't done anything that I need to talk about, I don't need to keep the media interest alive by making nasty comments.

I don't want to be a sensation queen, a page 3 item. I do not want the media to say, "Haan, ek comment chaiye, Neha ko phone karo!" (We need a quote, let's call Neha).

I like to begin work early. I prefer going to bed early. Even if I attend a party, I don't hang around for too long.

I love rehearsing… I usually end my day thinking about my work.

Looking back at the last four years, what do you see?

Ten films I am very proud of.

I see co-actors whom I have enjoyed working with. Like Hrithik and me had a blast when we were working on the Aaja Mahiya song. We connected as actors, having trained together in Namit Kapoor's classes.

Fiza was also special because of Santosh Sivan, who behind the camera would got out of his way to make you look so beautiful, describing exactly what he wanted to capture on film.

Ajay Devgan, unlike the broody, introverted person that he comes off on screen is great fun to be with. Always playing pranks and is so much fun to be with on the sets. Arshad and Chandrachur are always clowning around.

But once, its pack up, then I have flown away. I have memories of Panchgani, where we shot Rahul for two months and I was terribly bored.

Or even those of Goa, where we shot Ehsaas. After pack up, I would be on the beaches, in the markets and tasting prawn curry!

None of this would have been possible without my parents, who have been a huge support.

My mother loves me completely and unconditionally. My dad who grew up on Guru Dutt's films criticises my performance. My sister, on the other hand, will crib about my dancing, my makeup, my clothes.

The first year was especially tough on me. I was determined to travel on my own. I'd get lost. I had a very sheltered childhood. No college treks, no school camps.

Very often, I'd end up calling Vidhuji's house asking him to send someone to help me get back home!

What does the future hold?

I am working on Akashdeep's Aur Phir Ek Din, with Chandrachur and Arshad Warsi, which is a murder mystery. Shot in Alfred Hitchcockian style, this one has the entire scene shot in one camera movement.

The only problem is that this kind of filming exposes everybody's weaknesses as an actor. Hence, we all have to work very hard at it. I am also in the process of signing two films that should happen till November.

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