We have known Neena Gupta for a long time now - not personally, but it feels like we know her. I remember watching ‘Saans’ with my mom and nani and noticing that Neena Gupta’s bindi had the same design as the logo of the show – I thought it was brilliant. We talk about feminism today, but Neena was helming these TV series back then, much before the Ekta Kapoor revolution.
I then remember her in ‘Kamzor Kadi Kaun’, where she was meant to be a sarcasm queen and she ruled the show. You would see her smile at these savage jokes, which were hilariously written, and you almost waited for her sarcasm to kill the contestants.
Now as some people discover her as a prolific actor for the first time, we can’t help but feel awesome (even proud) that we have seen her throughout her journey. More recently, she has become the reason why people watch content. We have been great admirers, and that’s why, we watch everything she is in.
He role in ‘Badhaai Ho’ felt like an ode to every Indian mom who is always busy running the house. Her car conversations with her husband show her real emotions. They show that it is okay to be angry at your loved ones and still love and respect them. These unsaid values live over generations in our country. Rest of the time, she is busy being the perfect daughter-in-law and mom. I clapped when Surekha Sikri (her mother-in-law) vouches for her at the wedding function. There is some magic in the feeling when someone else, a family member or a colleague, not only acknowledges what you have done, but also goes the extra mile of defending your case – your victories are just more strongly validated. Not that you need the validation, but when it happens it feels like such an important win. Neena's potrayal, makes you believe how important this win is to the character.
Her latest OTT show ‘Panchayat’ is a different flavor but the same sincerity. In each episode she makes Manju Devi real. Her ways are unique, instead of preaching what the right thing to do is, she challenges her husband on his guts to do the right thing. She is also pragmatic and not swayed by emotions. She wants her milk money, she doesn’t like uninvited guests and won’t marry her daughter to a man without the evidence of his success. In all this Manju Devi makes her dismay evident in a conversation, never looking at the camera – as if she is always too busy in her other work to give these topics enough importance, yet she changes the course of the story. The season finale is of course about her. That episode makes up for the other episodes where you missed her presence. It is a full circle for the series when someone else challenges her, just like she had challenged her husband few episodes ago. It angers and frustrates her but makes her want to excel at the challenge. Even when she is supposed to take center stage, she first wants respect for her husband and her people. She displays nervousness and confidence in the same sequence. She gives inspiration to the protagonist and us.
I don’t get demotivated and I am not afraid to work hard - From Panchayat (translated to English)
All we can say is we continue to fall in love with Neena with everything that she does. Two fan girls here!
P.S.: She is sharing the absolute truth in her videos on Instagram these days. Do follow her and us ;)