Neena Gupta Said She Envies The Opportunities Younger Actresses Are Getting. But Are Things Truly Changing?
Some people enjoy books, others movies. Me? I enjoy overthinking. Overthinking is my favourite way to pass my time even though I am not quite fond of it. Guilty of doing it but not happy about it. I analyse things so much that I feel like my brains are always on cardio. If I had put my body through such intense workouts, I would be a fit bitch by now. But here’s a thing that helps me balance out the overthinker in me. I am an optimistic person and somehow, I found out a way to make everything okay, at least in my head. Which is exactly how I look at the progress we’ve made towards establishing gender equality in India. Even though we’ve had some really sexist movies in Bollywood this year, there have also been female-centric movies. Thankfully, actresses aren’t just dancing on mountain-tops, saree-clad and like their sexuality, trying hard to hide their ability to feel cold. Deepika Padukone, Taapsee Pannu, Anushka Sharma, Priyanka Chopra and more actresses have proved that female centric movies aren’t limited to the offbeat category.
However, in the yesteryears the opportunities weren’t as great as it is today for women. And today when we have those opportunities, yesteryear’s actresses aren’t getting any because Bollywood is still ageist. Neena Gupta opened up about the same. “I’m very happy that I’m getting such substantial roles. I feel I’ve got a new lease of life. I feel energetic and happening. But I’m also very sad, I wish I was much younger now. There are so many platforms, possibilities, so I get jealous of all the young girls who are doing such good work,” she told PTI.
Back in the days, Neena Gupta worked in several movies Indie films such as Mandi (1983), Rihaee (1988), Drishti (1990) and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (1992). However, her work in Woh Chokri (1994) was what gave her the breakthrough in Bollywood. Yet, after years she was out of work because Bollywood hasn’t been very kind to older actresses. She had put up a post on her social media saying that she is looking for work and after that she got five offers, including Badhaai Ho.
Speaking of the new opportunities, Neena shared, “Badhaai Ho came to me by chance, if another actor had done it, I would’ve been at the same place. Films are a business. They take who’s working. I won’t get a role if I say I want to do that. It depends on how saleable you’re at that time.”
She further added, “I got offered big roles after Badhaai Ho but if the film hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t have gotten. It’s business, nobody is emotional about it. I used to not get work even on TV, but wherever I went, they’d treat me with respect but never offer work.”
Bollywood has a very out of sight, out of mind kind of game going and this has been the case for a long, long time. Of course, we continue to dish out meaty rules to those who we think will get the numbers at the box office. And is these women are given one chance and that doesn’t work, they are rarely offered more work.
It’s good to know that times are changing. We are not where we want to be but we aren’t where we used to be. So we hope that years down the line, when Deepika, Sonam and Anushka will be as old as Neena Gupta is right now, it will be all so different and better.