The lure of the stage


Actress Neena Gupta on the special camaraderie of theatre and playing Hema Roy in Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha, to be staged in the city on September 18

What was it about Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha thattempted Neena Gupta to return to the stage after a decade? The veteran actress, who blazed a trail in parallel cinema and television, says it was the original script and the fact that she’d be working with old friends — Anupam Kher from cinema and Rakesh Bedi of Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, who shot to fame in television around the same time as her.

“The fact that it was an original play and not an adaptation played a major role in helping me choose,” says the actress. I loved the script; it had so many shades and emotions to it, she adds. Mera Woh..., which premièred on March 8, 2015, has had more than a 100 shows in India and 50 abroad. It is about an estranged couple who meet decades later, to analyse their bond.

Working with known people has its perks, she says. “You start off with an understanding of each other, and don’t have to begin afresh. Plus, there’s a special, enjoyable camaraderie in theatre.” Working with Anupam, she says, is “so easy, so much fun”.

Neena loves all media she’s dabbled in, but is partial towards movies. But, theatre, she says, is immediate gratification. “I won’t pit one against the other. Each calls for a different skill set, and each one of them is challenging. In fact, I’d say television is the most difficult in terms of effort.”

Years of experience come together when Neena goes up on stage. “I read my lines, I imbibe them, I know who I am in the play and I go out and perform. Some people do things differently, but this is how I get into the character.”

In the play, Neena plays Hema Roy with consummate ease. “I love Hema’s vulnerability. I also love that I essay two roles in the play. Keep guessing on the other one,” she says.

The play will be staged on September 18 at The Music Academy, Chennai, at 6.30 p.m. Tickets are available on

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:22:24 AM |

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