Neena Gupta Opens Up on Dealing With Criticism, Says ‘One Should Never Call a Film Bad’

It was four decades back that actor Neena Gupta began her journey in the film industry. After delivering a slew of critically acclaimed films and some iconic television shows like Gul Gulshan Gulfaam (1987) and Saans (1998), she made a smashing comeback with Badhaai Do (2018) as the female lead. Over the past few years, she has successfully defied stereotypes related to ageism and sexism in showbiz and set a precedent for many.

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Touted to be one the busiest actors in Bollywood, she has belted out a bunch of projects this year, a feat that not many young actors can brag about. Gupta was seen headlining the second seasons of web shows Masaba Masaba and Panchayat and films like Uunchai and Goodbye. And her fifth outing this year, Vadh, has hit the screens today. Needless to say, all of them have fetched her raving responses from critics, audience and the film fraternity. While many might wonder at what continues to drive her even after 40 years, Gupta feels critiques, both positive and negative, keep her inspired.

In an exclusive interaction with News18, she tells us, “I read a lot of reviews but I don’t read them with the expectation that they will throw some positive inputs that might help me.”

She further explains, “Having said that, if they praise me, it’s important for me to know that. I also like to read their criticism of my work so that I can better myself. When you put in so much effort, you want to know what people are saying about your craft. I want to read every analyses to understand their thoughts on the hard work I’ve put in.”

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But the 63-year-old is quick to point out that reviews may also end up being damaging to an actor or a filmmaker and those penning them down are often indifferent to the effort that goes into making a project. “People don’t understand that acting involves a lot of hard work. Even when you’re aging, you may have to do night shifts that begin from six in the evening and end at six the next morning, and it’s tough. They think that acting is all about fame and glam. But acting, directing and producing are very hard. And that’s why I feel one should never call a film ‘bad’; we should instead say, ‘I didn’t like it’,” she elaborates.

Actors often and easily become targets of insensitive comments bordering on trolling, and Gupta agrees. Despite a long-spanning career, she asserts that living an actor’s life and career is still no cakewalk. She states, “Making a film or a series is a very tedious and expensive job where you can end up losing a lot of money. And actors are required to be fit at all times. When I was doing theatre, we were told that our body is our instrument. Some people are required to only use their brains, but we, actors, need to make use of our entire body [as a channel to communicate emotions and expressions].”

Apart from multitudes of offers, Gupta’s second innings in Bollywood has earned her several epithets. While some refer to her a timeless diva, others believe she’s like fine wine that only gets better with age. Reacting to these adjectives, the Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan- (2020) and Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021) actor remarks, “Jab milta hai toh khushi hoti hai aur jab nahi milta toh dukh nahi hota. It’s very simple.” She adds, “It’s like when you don’t get an award that you were expecting, you think they aren’t worth it. But when you do, awards suddenly become very important. I enjoy my success but I don’t let it overwhelm me or affect my sanity because I know that I might not have work tomorrow.”

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