'Once you become a mother, you can win the big wars at work and you can win the big wars in your life.
'But, sometimes, you lose the small battles at home and lose the small battles with your children.'
Neha Dhupia's always chosen to walk off the beaten path.
She's done off-beat films. Been a gangleader on MTV Roadies. Has an eclectic sense of style. Holds fierce individualistic opinions and has never been scared to air them.
Most recently, she has chosen to shoot for the recently released Amazon Mini TV’s short film, Good Morning, soon after the birth of her son, Guriq.
Director Jyoti Kapur Das and producer Guneet Monga were, she says, very accommodating of her needs as a new mum.
In a candid chat with Rediff.com Contributor Namrata Thakker, Neha reveals why she said yes to Good Morning and why she wants to work with her husband Angad Bedi.
Your short film Good Morning, which released recently, is about women balancing their personal and professional lives.
Whether you’re a daughter, wife or a mother, the subject is very relatable and relevant even in 2022.
Is that the reason you agreed to do this project?
I think the relevance of the subject is that, no matter what kind of a mother you are, once you become one, you can win the big wars at work and you can win the big wars in your life.
But, sometimes, you lose the small battles at home and lose the small battles with your children. That’s what Good Morning is about.
I thought the message was loaded and important. It’s the need of the hour.
You started shooting for the film after giving birth to your second child. Did it make it easy for you to get into the character and feel the emotions?
I had this huge understanding of the character because I have become a mother now.
I had just given birth to my son so it was actually hard for me to the do the film.
What helped was the fact that I was working with two women -- director Jyoti Kumar Das and producer Guneet Monga -- who understood that getting my baby to work every day was natural for me. I was breastfeeding my son so I had to keep going back into the trailer between shots.
They created a very friendly environment because they knew they had cast someone who was a new mum; they created a warm, cushioned atmosphere for me and were so welcoming.
I was never made to feel that my breaks weren’t relevant. They accommodated everything.
Would your experience of returning to the sets as a mother with a young baby have been different if the movie was helmed by a male director?
Well, I have worked with men in the business as well, who hired me to work on a film like A Thursday.
I had started shooting for the movie and, soon, I was seven to eight months pregnant. It wasn’t like they told me, ‘Hey it’s not going to work.’ They said just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t play a cop. Instead, they added that extra layer to my character.
They were a bunch of boys and they made me extremely comfortable.
To differentiate just because the people hiring you are men isn’t fair. But to say that Jyoti and Guneet understood what the need of the hour was... I have to say that maybe they had little more sense of realisation.
Having said that, I have come across men in the business who have been very nice and accommodating while working with me when it comes to my need as mother or a new mom.
Does being a mother weigh in when you choose your projects now because you maybe don’t want your children to watch certain type of content?
I don’t think that weighs in as much as my time commitment does.
If somebody’s asking me for a long chunk of time, it should be worth my while as opposed to my being on the sets for endless number of hours and not making any headway.
That’s one thing that I am extremely concerned about at all times.
Apart from that, my children need to know that if you’re a good actor, you need to have colour, you need to have layers and you will do different things. So that's not something that affects my decision when it comes to choosing a film.
Short films are a growing business and you've acted in and produced them as well. What’s best part about making a short film as a producer and as an actor?
The truth is that when you have a low budget and want to tell an impactful story, short films are the best medium.
As an actor, you’re not at high risk and so you can take chances while doing short films.
Also, the best part of short films is that sometimes you leave a mark. People consume your content and realise that you have an extra layer, an extra shade that you can put out as an actor.
Will we see you and your husband, Angad Bedim in a movie or a web show anytime soon?
There's nothing in the pipeline yet.
I am hoping that I get more days at work with my husband because it’s always fun to work with him.
When we work together, we have the ability to attach and detach from our personal issues.
When we go to work together, it's fun. We dive into it and we work hard towards getting the job done. It will be nice to work with him.
A short film that you watched recently and loved...
I saw Shimmy and I really liked it. I also liked Angad's The List.
What you’re currently binge-watching on OTT?
I saw Jennifer Anniston’s old movie Friends With Money and Thirteen Lives recently.
It's a bit late in the day, but I just saw Gangubai Kathiawadi and loved it.
As for binge-watching, I am loving all the episodes of Koffee With Karan.
Anything you recently saw on OTT and didn’t like?
There was something that I didn’t like but I am not going to tell you what it was (laughs).
Fashion advice for all the busy moms like you out there?
Don’t wear the first thing that comes to your sight.
When I wasn’t a mom, I would say you could wear a white shirt and blue denims.
Now, I promise you the first thing that’s in front of you is going to be stained, it’s going to be old and it’s going to be super comfy and you don’t want to be spotted wearing stuff like that.
A makeup hack you swear by?
Blusher, mascara and lip balm. Don’t forget sunscreen.
Three things you always carry in your bag?
I always have diapers for my kids in case of an emergency, my house keys and my wallet.