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Neena Gupta: ‘Watch Uunchai on the big screen for its stunning visuals’

The Sooraj Barjatya-directed film, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani and Sarika, is set to release in theatres on November 11

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 08.11.22, 04:48 PM
Neena Gupta

Neena Gupta Instagram

Masaba Masaba actress Neena Gupta, who plays an important role in Rajshri Productions’ upcoming film Uunchai, suggests that the film should be watched in theatres because it has stunning visuals. Following the success of Badhai Ho (2018), Neena has at least five projects lined-up for release, but Uunchai remains special for her. In a candid chat, the 63-year-old opened up about her character in the upcoming Sooraj Barjatya-directed film, her suggestion for daughter Masaba Gupta and the process she follows to choose scripts.

Tell us about the character that you play in Uunchai


Neena Gupta: I have a very interesting role in the film. I play Boman’s (Irani) wife. He plays Javed. I play Shabina. Shabina is a typical Indian housewife whose life revolves around her husband and kid. Shabina’s daughter is married and now she has got nothing much to do. But then things change for her towards the end.

And how long did you take to say yes to the film?

Neena Gupta: Long? I was so happy that he [Sooraj Barjatya] called me for this film and offered me the role that there was no question of thinking. But I really liked the script when he narrated it to me.

How did you prepare for the role?

Neena Gupta: I don’t do any preparation. First of all, I want the right costumes. Half my work is done there. I feel I have to do two things to be a good actor. One is to mean the lines that I’m saying. I could be talking to you and thinking about something else. But you’d be convinced that I’m talking to you. All of us can do that. One director changed the role that he had thought of for me earlier. He said, ‘It will be easier for you to play this.’ Because I can do average acting without meaning it. So, that’s the key thing — to mean the lines that you say.

The second thing is that you have to hear what your co-actor is saying. Sometimes we don’t do that. We’re thinking of our next line. So, if you do these two things, you don’t have to do anything else.

After Badhaai Ho, a lot of offers must have come your way. How do you pick your films now?

Neena Gupta: I have a very organic process. I just listen to the script. Sometimes, the script is not ready, so they send a storyline and character. If I like the storyline, I ask for the script. If I like the script, I say yes to the film. Otherwise, no. It’s very simple. Sometimes, I do a call with the director to understand it better. But if I still don’t like it, then I say no.

How was the experience of working in Uunchai?

Neena Gupta: Uunchai was a totally surreal experience. I have never met a man like Sooraj Ji. The other day, I told someone, ‘Main badi ho kar Sooraj Ji banna chahti hoon.’ (I want to become Sooraj Ji when I grow up).

I want the calmness that he has. I really enjoyed working with him because there was no shouting on the sets. We would go one take at a time. He explains everything to everybody. Plus, you get a lot by working with experienced actors. I have got a lot from this film.

In Uunchai, a group of friends go trekking to fulfil their late friend’s wish. Do you have a wish list of the new things that you want to do in this phase of life?

Neena Gupta: Yes, of course. I want to travel a lot with my girlfriends. I want to visit Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus, and Portugal.

And what about films?

Neena Gupta: I have done five projects that are ready. I have said yes to three more projects which I will start shooting for soon.

How was it acting with your daughter (Masaba Gupta) in the Netflix series Masaba Masaba?

Neena Gupta: I was always telling Masaba not to act. Because I told her, ‘Your face is not the typical face for a heroine in Indian cinema. You’ll get other types of roles. If you’re willing to do character roles, then you go ahead and become a trained actor.’ She understood it and then took up fashion. When Masaba Masaba came up, it was a very interesting idea. When I saw the rough cuts of the first few episodes, I was shocked. I never thought that Masaba can be so good. I told her, ‘I’m sorry for not allowing you to act earlier.’

Lastly, why should the audience watch Uunchai in theatres?

Neena Gupta: Firstly, I would tell them not to wait for the film to come on OTT because the film has beautiful visuals which they will enjoy on a big screen. Secondly, it has everything for everybody. There are very good actors in the film. It’s a nice film.

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