Neha Dhupia: "I Was Never A Part Of The Rat Race. And I Think It Is Too Late To Join Now Anyway."

Neha Dhupia is a beauty – and there is no arguing with that. As I saw down to interview her, she had just come off the plane to rehearse for her performance at the annual Auto Show taking place in downtown Toronto, and yet she remained poised and beautiful, not just physically but in her mannerisms and her thoughtful responses to any questions posed to her. Neha has never defined herself with the ranks of the actors and actresses vying for the top spot. And yet she has managed to make a mark nonetheless with very good cinema – be it through Blockbuster films like Singh is Kinng or through taking the route of doing less “conventional” films such as Dus Kahaniyaan, Dasvidaniya, or Ek Chalis Ki Last Local. But her journey began as a graduate from Delhi University, majoring in History and graduating with honours. Thereafter, Neha tried her hand at acting in plays in New Delhi and also made a few appearances in music videos and advertisements. It wasn’t until 2002 though that she went onto win the “Femina Miss India” pageant and subsequently went onto place in the top ten of the “Miss Universe” pageant in Puerto Rico in 2002.

The Bollywood Industry – I feel like it is quite unfair to women, especially the journey a woman goes through. If someone was to ask you to describe your journey, how would you describe it?

I think it has been a great one. I think being a woman in Bollywood it is very important to ensure you make the right decisions as far as where your script or the people you are working with are concerned. But most importantly, I feel that you know, it is a place for everyone but at the same time, it isn’t really a place for everyone so you definitely need to know where you belong.

You have had a very interesting journey. You have done solo films, multi-starrer films, some of which are mainstream, or those that could be categorized as “art house” cinema, which I don’t think is fair – cinema is cinema no matter what.
Yeah, it doesn’t matter.

Has it been a conscious decision to go through the various genres and different types of “cinema”…to have this diverse journey?
I think what has been a conscious decision for me is to do good cinema. It doesn’t matter what the budget of a film is at all. The budget of the film does not define the quality or the entertainment that it would provide. You know, a three crore film could provide more entertainment than sometimes a thirty crore film. You can’t define what entertainment with money.

And I’m glad you didn’t define it as “art house” cinema because there is nothing like that. It is just cinema – that is what it is. What are we promising at the end of the day? We’re promising a great narrative. We are promising entertainment. And then we’re promising a story well told. I mean I can’t understand the difference.
But yes, I have chosen a different path. If you want to call intelligent cinema where money is not the main concern or the main method to promote a film and less money is spent as “art house” cinema, then yes, that is the path I’ve chosen.
The journey has been very interesting. It hasn’t always been great. There have definitely been a lot of ups and downs but I feel like I have come a very long way from where I initially started off. But I also have a long way to go and I will always maintain that I have room to grow.

But you’ve definitely made a mark – despite the competition that seems to be so fiercely growing in the industry.
That’s true. I have managed to carve a small niche for myself. And as long as I am not easily replaceable, which of course everyone will be at some point or another, but as long as I am not easily replaceable at this point in time, I am in a very happy space.

Going with that then, what is important to you when a film is offered to you? What do you look for?
(Thinks) Hmm…what do I look for? See, I feel like the audiences have become so smart that the script has to be very important and the content that we are providing through the film must be good…especially now, because audiences know so much more and they are exposed to so much more.
This is the decade and the space of smart and intelligent cinema. I don’t want to waste my time or in fact, waste the audience’s time just because I am in the business of movie making. But definitely, I am going to define myself as an individual who is associated with movie-making that will always provide entertainment but movies that also make a little bit of sense.

Good answer! So, there is a dream project, a dream director, a dream actor that you feel like you want to work with even though for you, you would love to just do a good movie?
Well, yes, I think everyone has the dream of working with the Khans for sure. That is of course everyone’s dream and that is definitely on my agenda.
As for a dream project, I have yet to do a conventional love story with a straight romantic track in the film. I would love to do that.
As for dream role, I can’t think of one that I would like to do off of the top of my head but I mean with a good script, you usually tend to get a good role and a good role is anyone’s dream right? That is definitely something that I am always actively looking for.

So then, for the conventional love story, who would be your ideal co-star?
Oh…I don’t know! I feel like any of the Khans will be fine.

No hierarchy between the Khans then for you – it is between Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, SRK, anything of them will do?
Oh definitely! Why not!

Can we throw Saif Ali Khan in the mix as well given his huge success in the past decade?
Yessss! Any of them would be a dream come true to work with definitely!

On an ending note then, if you were to define Bollywood cinema today for yourself, how would you define it?
I think for myself and for everyone, what defines cinema is the audience. I feel that the audience has grown so much – and the audience has changed so much. The audience has started to accept really smart, intelligent and genuinely funny actors and performers. I also feel that this is definitely the decade for change as far as Bollywood is concerned. There is no formula, there has been no formula, and there will be no formula but yet at the same time, I feel that anything smart and anything good will work this time around.

So the rat race won’t phase you?
No, I’ve never been a part of it…and no, now, I think it is too late to join.

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Armin S.

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

Comments (2)

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