Close encounter: It was a wrong decision
ASKARI JAFFER Clad in cream coloured designer dress, Neena Gupta entered the premises bare-foot, something unusual for a celebrity. She has...
Clad in cream coloured designer dress, Neena Gupta entered the premises bare-foot, something unusual for a celebrity. She has defied societal norms when she decided to have the love child of Vivian Richards, West Indies cricketer, giving her the tag of a brave, modern woman. "Oh! That's the image media has created," she claims. "I was educated and had a lot of self esteem and was financially independent which is important for any woman in a bad situation. These were the only things which portrayed me as bold. But I wish I were bold."
She lived within society, yet lived life on her own terms and made a name for herself through her work which spans theatre, television and cinema. The actor-director had acted in several acclaimed films (commercial and art house cinema besides international projects like 'Gandhi', 'In Custody', 'Cotton Mary') and television shows ('Khandaan', 'Bharat Ek Khoj') besides directing some well-known TV soaps like 'Saans', 'Siski', 'Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar'. Neena Gupta won the National Award for the Best Supporting Actress in the film 'Woh Chokri' in 1993.
Today she is content with standing behind her designer daughter Masaba, taking care of her and helping her in her business. I am like every other woman, she says. "Every mother is worried about her daughter returning home. Even I don't sleep till my daughter comes home."
"I learned a lot from life and that includes the fact that nobody can live life on their own terms. We have to go by the norms to live in society. Everybody is in the same boat. But my strength has been honesty. Looking back, I realise that I have made a few mistakes in my personal life which branded me as a particular person. But I can tell you that I was always a shy person who always aspired to be a glamour doll and could never become one. And before I could realise my mistake, my life had become fodder for the media," she adds.
She denies being a role model too, "I regret my crazy decision. Although I have a beautiful daughter and I am proud of her; because of my bold decision my daughter, mom and dad faced a lot of problem. And I don't want you to appreciate my boldness, but you can appreciate my honesty," said Neena, referring to her affair with Vivian Richards and the consequences that spiraled out of control.
She talks about her relationship with her daughter and says, "Time has changed the relationship between me and my daughter. My mother never taught me about sex but today I talk about it with my daughter in a different way. I am not telling that my mom was wrong and I am right. No child will listen to the mother. Even I never paid heed to my mother which I regret till date. If I would have listened to her, I would have been at better place today. I would have been an IAS officer instead of an actor. Masaba respects me. But she is unlike me, very ambitious. And she listens to me only if she agrees with the logic of it"
Commenting on the status of modern woman, "Being women is very difficult in today's world", says Neena. "Today a modern woman is educated. Earlier it was just about sitting at home and taking care of family and children. But today she wants to go out and wants to be considered equal to men. When she is not treated well, that leads to trouble. She is ambitious. Yet, when at home she is back to taking care of the home, which is double the responsibility," she points out.
Neena believes that women have to change the world, "We (women) should not beg for money. Work hard. Don't depend on others all the time. We have to sacrifice and compromise every time, but never do that with marriage. Don't marry because you are getting old and don't marry any murga - kyunki kal who bhi tang karega".
She also asserts on the role of women in changing the attitude of men. "Nirbhaya was not the only rape case in our country. No place is safe for women. Nothing will change! To bring about change, we must change the men. And this change should start from home. Mothers should treat their sons and daughters equally," says Neena.