At 60, actor Neena Gupta has once again taken over the screens with some commendable performances. She has outperformed several of her younger colleagues in films like Badhaai Ho and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. Now, the actor is venturing into the web space with Amazon Prime Video and The Viral Fever’s Panchayat. In the web series, she essays Manju Devi, a village sarpanch and a typical housewife, who wants to serve good food to her husband and get her daughter married in a good family.
Panchayat has Gupta reuniting with her Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan co-actor Jitendra Kumar who she thinks “is a great actor”, and Raghubir Yadav, who she feels has “a great sense of humour”.
As Panchayat starts streaming today, Neena Gupta talks about the web series and the digital platform. She also reveals how life has changed after her viral Instagram post in 2017.
Tell us something about Panchayat. What made you take up the show?
I have a tendency to take up roles which excite me and says something important in a very organic and natural way. So, I found Panchayat to be like that. I like my role of Manju Devi and I like the whole concept of it. It was something new for me since it was based in a village and the dialect was different too. I enjoy doing these things.
Manju Devi is someone who is the boss at home. Are you a boss at home in real life too?
I am not a boss anywhere, not at home at all. I’m someone who is easily pressurised by everyone. So, I am not a boss with my husband, child or friends. I always adjust to situations and people. That’s why I was able to live my life because I have great adjustment power. I don’t feel bad adjusting to somebody.
Also Read | Panchayat review: It takes a village
Are Manju Devi and Neena Gupta similar? How well do you resonate with your character?
Manju Devi and I are not similar at all. She is a typical village lady, not very educated, not ambitious and not interested in anything. She has the usual thinking of getting her daughter married in a good family, providing the husband with good food. So there is nothing in common between us.
How was it working with Jitendra Kumar again after Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan?
I did this before Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, so I did not know Jeetu very well at that time. But he was a very quiet and an introvert kind of a guy. I find him a very good actor. Now, we are very friendly and he has opened up with us. But I really enjoyed working with Raghubir Yadav who I’ve known for ages now and he has a great sense of humour.
You have worked with actors like Rishi Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra and now you are working with the young generation like Ayushmann, Kangana, Kareena, Jitendra. Do you find any difference in their working style or how they approach their characters?
To me, everybody is the same. I’m at ease working with both the younger and older generation. For me, nothing changes and I have chemistry with everybody. Basically, I feel chemistry means if both the actors are good actors and good human beings, then chemistry happens. If there is somebody who wants to cut your lines, which used to happen earlier with a few people, then it’s a problem. But nowadays, everybody, including the youngsters, is so smart and confident that there is no such issue.
You have written web series Kehne Ko Humsafar hai. Do you think the web gives better opportunity to experiment with the content?
The web definitely gives opportunity for better content because web series do not have to be long-running. Most importantly, it’s not a daily soap. It’s very difficult to maintain the quality in a daily soap. So, sometimes some episodes are really bad. For a web series, you have to work on one season and then you can again gather your thoughts for another season. That is why right now there is a lot of nice web series coming. People are experimenting. I feel this is a good platform.
How has been the feedback for the roles you have taken up after your viral Instagram post in 2017?
It helped me a lot. People came to me. Anubhav Sinha was the first one to approach me for Mulk, then Dibakar Banerjee for Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. Badhaai Ho also came. Like this, I eventually kept getting work. But it’s very difficult also because, for my age group, there are not many roles written as compared to the younger generation. So, I have to be patient and not feel sad if not many roles are coming. But I am doing some good work and I’m very satisfied.
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