I Don’t Get to Choose Scripts Anymore: Neena Gupta

‘Khujli’ star, Neena Gupta talks about the dearth of good roles in the industry these days. 

Neena Gupta is one of the most critically acclaimed actors of her time but unfortunately we don’t get to see the actress on-screen as often as we would like to.

When we sat down to chat with Neena about her latest short film, Khujli, the actress told us why she resents the kind of roles veteran actors such as herself are offered these days.

Neena, who plays a middle-aged woman rekindling her sexual desires with her husband (played by Jackie Shroff) in Khujli, tells us why she believes the audience is ready for such kind of films.

Q. What made you choose a script like Khujli?

Neena Gupta: Well, I don’t get to choose many things script wise these days. So the script came to me I loved it and I said yes to it.

Q. An actress like you in such a role was a pleasant change. Usually actress of your age are seen playing the stereotypical mother, grandmother which is kind of annoying, right?

Neena: It’s worse. Mothers, grandmothers toh hota hi hai. Guru maa aur raj mata ka role mujhe aata hai sirf. It’s a joke.

So the thing is that my age group guys are still playing heroes and I am offered grandmother, guru ma, raj mata. I am not too shocked because that is how our society is also na?

A sixty-year-old man marries a thirty-year-old girl. A sixty-year-old woman doesn’t marry a thirty-year-old man. So, our society is such. There are no roles for me. I am not a big fat woman who can’t play something else. I am a woman doing everything that a normal woman does and not looking so old either but I am only offered roles like these.

Q. How did your family and friends react after watching the film?

Neena: Everybody loved the film. My daughter, my husband, my in-laws, my friends; everybody loved the film. You know the film had nothing to do with sex as such. I feel people liked it because we never showed any sex, if you come to think of it. He never even touched me.

We don’t touch each other in the film. So I think the beauty of this film is the natural and realistic way the director has put a sexual thought. Now it’s on each person to feel how they feel it.

We have done a tongue-in-cheek plain thing and not shown anything. Now how you take it, depends on you. Everybody will get tickled differently by it, you know. I think the most beautiful part of it is ‘nani’ because you don’t expect that. Other things you will expect but nani, flush, coming out at odd times, you know that slow walk I mean that’s the high point. So, it is a very interesting film where you don’t show anything but you tickle some bone somewhere of somebody and it has become a sexy film without any sex in it.

Q. Any message to the middle-aged couples?

Neena: That a woman is not dead at 40.

A woman at 40 is not there to just look after the needs of children and the family. She is alive and has desires of all kinds, ranging from food to sex.

So, she is not dead but apne yahaan she is dead, she is only an instrument to look after the family, family’s emotional needs and their physical needs and that’s it. This is what in India 99% of the woman above 40 are for.