Neena Gupta talks about her new show, Panchayat, and living in the mountains during the lockdown
Neena Gupta is at the peak of her career. The gorgeous actress has been delivering some unforgettable performances. Her last outing was Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, in which she played the role of Sunaina Tripathi, mother of a homosexual man. Her latest project that’s on-air is Panchayat, an Amazon Prime Video web series, created by The Viral Fever (TVF).
Panchayat is the story of Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) who is appointed as the secretary of a panchayat office in a remote village. Despite his unwillingness , Abhishek takes up the appointment and heads to the village with the hope that he will be out of there soon. Neena plays the role of the Pradhan (chief) of the panchayat. “The name of my character is Manju Devi and Raghubir Yadav plays the role of my husband. Although I am the elected pradhan of the panchayat, I am not interested in working, so my husband does all the work. However, the way my character develops in the end is quite interesting,” says the actress adding, “The show throws light on how a panchayat office works and village life in a humorous way.”
Jitendra, the lead actor in this series, played Neena’s onscreen son in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. “Jitu is a quiet and introverted boy in this series. But in Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, it was different,” reveals the actress. Panchayat was shot in a small village near Bhopal, and Neena has worked with a young cast and crew. In fact, most of her recent films have been with young artistes and the actress is quite appreciative of them. She says, “There’s a lot to learn from young people. Young actors are very dedicated. They are intelligent and they ask questions. They won’t just take the script and act... if they haven’t understood something they will talk to the director. I am learning a lot from them.”
Over the hills
Currently, because of the nation-wide lockdown, Neena and her husband Vivek Mehra are stuck in Mukteshwar, a village in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The actress says she got a nine-day break in March from her shooting schedule and she headed to their house in the hills with their staff. “The entire year I was busy, so we came here with our staff, and two days later, the lockdown was announced. Fortunately, we are staying in this beautiful town in the mountains. There are not many people around and we are spending time with our dogs. I hadn’t done anything like this in a long time. I am doing yoga in the morning, I video call friends and I am catching up on all the reading I have missed. I go for a walk in the evening. My days are going by pretty fast. But there’s a strange sense of a hollowness because of the uncertainty of the situation. It pains me to see poor people and migrants suffer. But we can’t do anything from here except donate money, which we have done,” says the actress.
In spite of the uncertainty, Neena is looking forward to continuing her shoot for an untitled film by Nikkhil Advani, which stars Arjun Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh, post the lockdown. The actress has completed shooting for another film titled Gwalior opposite Sanjay Mishra. “I am also looking forward to the series Masaba Masaba on Netflix, and I am waiting for my movie, The Last Color to release,” she concludes.
KEEPING IT CANDID
If not an actor, what would you be?
I would be a dancer or a singer.
Your Instagram post series, Sach Kahoon Toe reveals a lot about you…
I haven’t spoken much about my personal life. I just talk about small things that people relate to a lot. The response I get just reassures me that people like what I put out on social media.
Describe yourself in three words.
(I) can move on.
What are three things that you want to complete before the end of this year?
I don’t know. Everything is so uncertain. I was really enjoying the work I got after a long time, but suddenly there is a full stop. Sometimes, I am sad, but at other times, I feel positive that it will all get over and I will get more substantial work to do.
What’s your favourite drink?
I used to love coke and cold milk. Half a glass of coke, with half a glass of milk, without any added sugar.
Which web series are you addicted to?
Homeland and Money Heist.
What are your wardrobe essentials?
Track pants, tracksuits, jeans, a sari and salwar kameez always.