'...changed my image, changed everything.'
'Now I make calls with great confidence.'
'Day before yesterday, I sent a message to a director that I heard you are making a film, is there any role for me?'
'I have confidence now. Earlier, I could never do.'
Neena Gupta has always been candid, and she remains so in a revealing chat with Neha Dhupia in the fifth season of her chat show, No Filter With Neha.
From discovering love at 50 to talking about why she always fails in her auditions, the actress doesn't hold back at all.
"Most of my auditions, main fail ho jati hoon. Kabhi nahi milta mujhe," she says.
On how she spent the lockdown
To tell you frankly, this has been the best four-and-a-half months of my life.
Beautiful place, lovely house, my own house so comfortable, staff, driver, no restriction, sit out, walk out because it's a gated thing and everybody inside is already quarantined for four months.
So we could meet them, we could eat with them, I could walk with them, so I found a new family and this is the first time, me and my husband stayed together for like four months.
Otherwise, he lives in Delhi, I live in Bombay.
So this was the first time I enjoyed being with somebody in the same house, although he was busy, I was busy.
On teething problems with her husband during the lockdown
Majorly, majorly! (laughs)
I've learned sign language because he is always busy on his conference calls.
The adjustment took some time, but it was very interesting that I let him be, he kind of tried to let me be, but he had no alternative.
In any case, he didn't have time to interfere in my life so it was fine, but whenever he got time, then he interfered which I decided I will not interfere.
It was very interesting, it was very calming.
On feeling out of place on a film set
I was doing Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan and my first day of shoot, I had this dialogue and I was saying realistically and talking to like that.
So our director Hitesh, he called me aside and he said, 'No, iska surr itna ocha hona chahiye. Oonche se shuru karna chahiye.'
Toh mene kaha, but why?
Then he explained me the reason. I understood the reason because I am talking to somebody who is in a place on phone jaha bohot shorr he. Toh shorr wali jagah agar app bhi bolenge toh ooncha bolenge na, which I understood the logic.
Jaisa unhone bola mene kara aur mein hotel wapas gayi and I said, 'Yeh level pe meko kaam karayenge, yeh level pe.'
I understood the whole film, so I read the script again, I understood that this film is going to be like this. It is not Badhaai Ho, you know what I mean.
So I understood because I trusted the director and I understood his logic.
Even if I had not understood, like there was a series called Srimaan Srimati, bohot pehle. Archana Puran Singh was pregnant, so they took me for some time.
Usme bhi director ne mujhe utna upar se shuru karwaya. It was that kind of comedy. Meko bohot taklif hoti thi, but I understood ki bhaiya yeh comedy aise hi karni he. Aise nahi phasi ki bohot bura director, koi logic nahi he aur mujhe karna pade.
Ha, phasi hu ek do baar shuru shuru mein when I had to do roles which had no beginning, no middle, nothing, which had no logic, which had no sense.
I have done many of those, but then you needed money, so it was okay.
On her love story at 50
We met on the plane. He was coming from London, I was coming from London to Bombay.
He's based in Delhi, but he was coming to Bombay for some work.
That is why I believe so much in destiny and fate. I was in business class, Air India, upstairs.
He was somewhere behind, but one lady wanted him to change his seat and that's how he came and sat beside me.
My life would have been so different. He keeps telling me all the time you are the one, you are the one, ab main ladti nahi hoon uske bare mein.
He says ki tune mujhe fasaya. Pehle main ladti thi, nahi maine kahan fasaya, tumne aisa kiya tumne aise kiya. Ab main ladti nahi, bola ha fasaya. Tum dukhi ho toh jao, tum sukhi ho toh raho.
On why she 'fails' in her auditions
Most of my auditions, main fail ho jati hoon. Kabhi nahi milta mujhe.
Badhaai Ho mein audition nahi diya tha. Shubh Mangal mein audition nahi diya tha.
Bahut si filmon ka, aur, especially the foreign productions, I never get in, never ever get in. I don't know why.
The Last Color -- uska audition nahi diya tha.
Ab kya bolu, ab jisko jo karna hai karega because abhi mera audition dekho acting toh dekh liya aapne, shakal roz dekhte rehte ho Instagram mein, aur kya dekhna hai?
When her mother was against her acting and wanted her to be an IAS officer
Ya, ya. They were very much against.
My mother used to look down upon Hindi cinema. She used to only watch English movies in the festivals and all.
They were very shocked because my mother wanted me to do IAS so ya, she was very much against.
But then, I said no I have to go, I have to go.
On her advice to daughter Masaba
So we have a big joke about it, these days, me and Masaba.
Obviously, because Masaba is surrounded by my friends who are connected to the film industry and all so, because you see the glamour na, so she also wanted to go into acting.
So I said dekh, tereko main yeh nahi keh rahi ki tu acting shayad achi kar paye, nahi kar paye, but because your face is not a very traditional Indian face, you will not get all the heroine parts, all the main parts.
Yeh tere ko hoga, ya toh phir tere ko karna hai toh you go abroad and you know struggle there and find some work there.
Finally, she understood.
I was very scared that she will say no. But she understood and she went into a different direction.
So now, this new series in which she's acting, it's about her. And, when I saw the edit, I am her best critic and her worst critic.
I mean, I toh criticise her all the time, which is very bad thing. But I was so impressed by her acting.
So, abhi hum jo karte hai Masaba and me ke how much I told her no, no, no and then whatever has to happen has happened.
On sharing screen space with Masaba in Masaba Masaba
I was a little hesitant.
I said I don't know, we both will be conscious doing a scene together, but she was so good.
She was so professional. Our scenes went off so well.
It is not the real thing, it's a little scripted thing, but it is so real like.
There's a scene you'll see in the trailer that when you see the scene, it's so real between the daughter and her mother.
So it is not that this had happened in our lives, it's not necessary, but it is very real.
On how Badhaai Ho was a game-changer
Badhaai Ho changed everything.
It changed my life because people couldn't imagine me because meriimage banayi thi media ne kuch aur, toh jaisi image hoti hai, wiase hi aapko acting assignment milte haina, yeh actor ko koi nahi samajhta.
So Badhaai Ho just changed my life, changed my image, changed everything.
Now I make calls with great confidence.
Day before yesterday, I sent a message to a director that I heard you are making a film, is there any role for me?
I have confidence now. Earlier, I could never do.
I tell Amit Sharma, who's the director, I said, aap jo bologe na, main aapke joote saaf karungi, kuch bhi karungi aapke liye because he has changed my life.
Woh bechara Neena Ma'am, Neena Ma'am karta hai aur main usko bolti hoon ki main kuch bhi karungi.
I have so much gratitude and so much love for him. Because I also love the film.
It's not that film hit ho gayi, no. I think, it's one of the best films I have ever done and seen.
Did she ever think Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro would become such a hit?
No, no, not at all. You know it was very gareebi mein bani hui film. There was no money.
I used to take an autorickshaw to go to the shoot, take my own food because I did not have a conveyance and NFDC ki film thi.
There was very little budget.
We had so much fun in the film.
I was so new, I was getting to work with such good actors, first film and all. When I see, we never expected this to become like this.
Is there a remake to Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro?
They were planning to make Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro 2. I read the script also.
It was a big, huge, script and they were saying we will come back to you for the dates par woh fizzle out ho gaya aur hua hi nahi. Kaafi saal pehle ki baat hai.
If she would recast the films she's been a part of:
Naseeruddin Shah in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Hrithik Roshan.
Gajraj Rao in Badhaai Ho: Hrithik Roshan.
Amar Akbar Anthony as three women: Alia, Kareena, maybe Vidya Balan.
Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff in Ram Lakhan: Jackie Shroff can still do it. For Anil Kapoor, I can't say Hrithik again na? Uh, Ayushmann.
Sonam Kapoor in Veere Di Wedding: Anushka.