Incidents of casting couch bring out the dark side of Bollywood and ‘Badhaai Ho’ actor Neena Gupta spoke of precisely this in a recent interview. Neena says a producer from the South asked her to meet him. After her performance at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai, she headed to his hotel as it was nearby, and decided to pay him a visit. However, the producer called her up to his room.
“My basic instinct told me to not go upstairs. That I should ask him to come down to the lobby instead.” Nevertheless, she was afraid to lose out on the opportunity, so she headed upstairs. She shared that the producer told her about actors he had launched for hours. “‘So, what’s my role, sir?’,” Neena asked him finally.
“‘The heroine’s friend,’ he said. When he explained it to me, it seemed like a very small part. ‘Ok … I have to go now, sir’ I said, ‘My friends are waiting for me.’….’Go? Where? he asked. He seemed genuinely shocked. Aren’t you going to spend the night here?’ Suddenly, I felt like someone had just poured a bucket of ice water on my head. Khoon sookh gaya (My blood froze).”
However, that was not the only time she found herself in an uncomfortable situation. Speaking of a similar experience in an interview, she said a ‘big’ filmmaker made a cheap comment about her because she wouldn’t do him any sexual favours.
Neena revealed, “This film director told me in front of everybody, ‘Cheezon ko istemaal nahi karo toh zung lag jaata hai (If you don’t use things, they begin to rust)’, because I was not sleeping with him. I kind of refused indirectly. He said it in front of everybody, all the actors and everybody.”
Though she wanted to name and shame the man, she explains that her friends cautioned her against it. Neena says she’d kept mum because she was a ‘struggling actor’ back then. However, she recalls she was fuming, “I was very angry. I came back and told my friends, ‘I want to tell the press that this is what he said to me.’ And my friends said, ‘Who will listen to you? He is a big name.
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“Tumhari badnaami hogi (Your name will only be besmirched).’ Phir bhi (Even then), I told somebody and then he said some very nasty things about me. Then, my friends said, ‘See, this is what is going to happen. It will become very dirty. So, just keep quiet. When your time comes, you say.’ This is my time so I am saying it,” she said.
Apart from her brilliant performances on screen, Neena is popular as the unofficial queen of sass and a woman who has always been ahead of her time. Gupta shed light on why she didn’t marry another man despite several proposals while she was pregnant with Masaba. Neena said Sir Vivian Richards (Masaba’s biological father) had a role to play in her decision.
“I was still attached to Vivian, although we met very seldom. But there was a connect for quite many years. There was a connect with Masaba also. We used to go for holidays together sometimes and whatever time Masaba spent with him or I spent with him was very nice,” she said, reports HT.
“There was no problem because we were away from his house. He has a wife and he has children. I will always cherish those memories. Also, I was not interested in anybody else. I was very happy, that, okay, the circumstances are such that we can’t get together, but whatever time we spend together is very nice. I was also very happy that Masaba can spend time together,” she added.
What do you think of her journey and her revelations about the film industry? Tell us!