How much ever we tend to call ourselves a progressive and modern society, our patriarchal mindset still believes women are incomplete without marriage; we still perceive women as commodities, who need to be tied down. And, if you dare to raise a child out of marriage, all hell breaks loose. Even though we are in the 21st century, our patriarchal society hates independent and headstrong women so much that it doesn’t leave a chance to pull them down. In such a regressive society, Neena Gupta dared to live life on her own terms.
From marrying at age of 49 to having a child out of wedlock, Neena Gupta did it all.
Even though the whole world decided that it was a mistake to raise her daughter, Masaba, out of wedlock, Neena didn’t care. Her friend, Satish Kaushik, even offered to marry her, but she refused. She made up her mind to raise her daughter on her own without being scared of what society had to say.
While sharing her struggle in an interview with the Times Of India, Neena mentioned: “Because I was working, I could not even get married and have a sibling for her. My friends told me don’t do this, but I was young and had the nasha, so did it. I feel it was very tough for me and I did my best. But I had to do bad movies, as I needed the money to bring her up.”
Neena Gupta became a mother at 30, gave birth to Masaba out of wedlock, raised her on her own, and then, got married at the age of 49 defying all norms.
Neen shattered the norms, bent the rules, and dared to live life as per her own wishes – which requires a lot of courage if you are a woman in a patriarchal society like ours. But, behind this strong and independent woman, there is a story of harsh circumstances and a difficult childhood.
Neena Gupta’s Troubled & Difficult Childhood
Neena Gupta’s childhood wasn’t easy. While speaking about her parents, Filmfare reports that Neena’s autobiography reveals her father had two full families. And throughout his life, he juggled his time between the two. He’d reportedly spend the night with the other family and even divide vacation days between the two.
In her autobiography – “Sach Kahun To”, she wrote of how her mother tried to keep all the pain, which marriage brought to her, inside her heart. While talking about her mother’s pain and troubled childhood, she mentioned, “My mother killed herself trying to hide what my father did to her.”
Neena’s strength of character is not only visible in her personal life but in her professional life as well.
While Neena Gupta admits to having starred in a few films, not by choice but compulsion, because she had a child to raise, she has done some really exemplary work in the parallel cinema of the 80s. From starring in the Hollywood film Gandhi to performing significant roles in several classics, like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Mandi, Neena has done some really great work.
To honor her great talent, Neena Gupta also received a National film award for her portrayal of a widow in Woh Chokri.
Neena Gupta has always made brave choices. How could one forget ‘Khalnayak’s Choli ke peeche kya hain?’ In the midst of controversies, the song went on to create popular culture history. Not just in films, Neena Gupta left her mark on Indian television also. From Khandaan (1985) to Gulzar’s Mirza Ghalib (1987) to Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj (1988) to Dard (1994 DD Metro), Neena Gupta gave us many memorable performances.
But, one character, that introduced her to instant stardom and made her a name, was Priya Kapoor in Saans. In the midst of mediocre Saas Bahu drama, Saans left its own mark. The progressive show gave the Indian audience a forgotten taste of good content. With a great storyline and power-packed performances, Saans was brilliantly written and directed by Neena Gupta.
In an old interview with the Tribune, Neena Gupta says, “The 35+ women are so eminently dumpable. In Saans, I am calling upon this ‘lost’ generation to take its dithering destiny in hand and get on with life — to achieve an identity which will last women for a lifetime. It is the 35+ wife-mother who is being brutalised today by erring or inconsiderate husbands and facing the responsibility of bringing up children.”
In another brave attempt, when Neena Gupta was struggling to get good work, she took to Instagram to ask for work. Her brave attempt to ask for work without any shame inspired many including Priyanka Chopra.
In her second act, Neena Gupta is refusing to slow down. She never shied away from bold subjects – not when she was 20, not when she is 62. From Badhai Ho to Panchayat to Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan to Masaba Masaba, Neena Gupta is busy delivering some of her finest work.
No one can deny that Neena Gupta is one celebrity, who commands respect, both for her professional choices as well as personal. Stories like hers need to be celebrated across generations. At IFORHER, we are in awe of her courage and hope she will keep inspiring us to lead a life on our own terms!