Neha Dhupia Version 2.0: Cinema, Tele and more
Neha Dhupia may want to use politically correct terms such as actor, producer, TV show host, podcaster and marathoner to describe herself in her famous 2017 podcast series online. But the real Neha, or the #NoFilterNeha as we would like to call her, is a sassy role player, fighter, and daredevil who seems to be ‘slaying it’ on all the platforms. By her own confession, she was the girl who was always called on the dais at film award nights to give away trophies to the winners. Today, she is celebrating bagging a Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in Tumhari Sulu, after being nominated seven times before. From being an almost-forgotten beauty pageant winner (Miss India Universe 2002) to being back in the reckoning with a host of new shows and movies, she truly has given a new meaning to getting reinvented.
As on February 2018, the 30-plus actor has a top notch TV show on Colours Infinity where she grills celebrities and extracts their little secrets, has wrapped up a short film titled Ice Cream with Bollywood’s ace director Karan Johar, has a kickass action show Roadies on MTV and another few movies in her kitty including Love and Lust (a sequel to Bombay Talkies). And we haven’t even included the 50 films to her credit in Bollywood so far.
She is not just busy, she is blissful. So what happened in the last two years that did not happen in almost15 years of her career? “It’s not like I decided one morning that I will reinvent myself. On the contrary, it was more about let me work with the right people. But most importantly, I simply put out my desires to the universe. Now the universe is just working it out and brilliantly delivering it back to me,” she says, on a philosophical note.
“I like to work bloody hard. In fact, it’s the day off that makes my head tick like a time bomb,” she tells us over a telephonic interview fixed in between her studio shoots and her evening run at Juhu beach in Mumbai. “I want to do so many different things, all at the same time. For instance, today I hit the gym in the morning, a little later I was house-hunting, I was reading a script of another movie and as we speak, I am wearing my sneakers and track pants to go out for a run. If I were at work, I would just be shooting. That is easier any day,” she says, giving a glimpse into a day in the life of the multi-tasker. Ask Neha what her bffs have taught her on her podcast and her TV show and she is quick to point out that friends are the most comforting beings in the world. “Not even family matches up to them,” she says while listing her besties in Bollywood – director-producer Karan Johar, TV presenter Gaurav Kapoor actresses Soha Ali Khan and Konkona Sen.
Associating with the right people and hanging out with strong, creative artistes is what fetched her those roles, she believes. “Keep hustling every day and don’t give up. Recently when I won an award, I felt it was for those people in the sidelines. Passion and dreaming big is what everyone has. But having a clear road map of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to do it is what sets you apart,” she says.
Although she has a finger in the movie, web series, telly series, online pies at the moment, it’s the silver screen that seduces her like no one else. Her role as ‘Maria Madam,’ the kickass head honcho of a radio channel in the 2017 Vidya Balan-starrer Tumhari Sulu, got her so much love and popularity. It won her awards too. The toughest shows, however, are reality shows that have crazy schedules. “We start at 5 am and go on till 5 pm, a clean 16-hour schedule with no clue about when it’s going to end.”
On an average day, the Julie 2 actress seems to be hustling more than her contemporaries. Anyone who follows her on Instagram stories (@NehaDhupia with 1.7 million followers) is privy to her action-packed day. One day she is battling a fire in her set and reshoots the whole show just when she thought it was a wrap up. On another, she is giving back a troll in style, like when he advised her to ‘have lots of sex as life is short’ and she gave it back saying that he should ‘stop being such a pervert as life is short’. Women are sitting ducks when it comes to negativity online, she remarks. Does she think campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp really bring in a tangible change? “Words have power. Speaking about a problem is the first step towards addressing it. Lakhs of voices have joined the campaign and now there is no choice for the men but to sit, listen up and fix it. Speak up and stand out,” she states.
As someone who is constantly shooting, putting on makeup or working out, she unwinds sharing her updates on social media or watching movies on NetFlix. Fitness is her other passion and running is her kind of work out. “I run marathons and I run three months a year. I missed the Mumbai Marathon recently as I was at work. But going for a good run with music plugged in, by the waters, is my kind of thing. I am an outdoorsy person and even on days when someone gets in my way for a selfie, I sternly tell them it’s going to be after the run.” The last 18 months have been phenomenal for her, with good work coming her way. What does 2018 hold? “I am going to pitch a tent and camp at Arunachal Pradesh for a month for my show Roadies. Aah, when your work takes you to places in your bucketlist, you know you are in the right job,” she signs off.