Neena Gupta @ 60: Five most powerful roles she played


Known for her grace and talent, much appreciated by critics and viewers for her real acting skills and stronghold over art and parallel cinema, Neena Gupta is undoubtedly one of the most proficient actors in Bollywood. With a career spanning over 35 years, she had proved her worth time and again through the characters she has brilliantly essayed over the years.

From iconic television roles, to memorable performances in national and global cinema and even stepping into the world of plays and short films, she has always been successful to deliver a work to the best of her abilities. As the actor turns 60, we take a look at five of her most powerful performances among similar such others:

Abha in ‘Gandhi’ (1982) – As an actor who was just two films old then, Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi became her initial step towards global cinema. Although she auditioned for the part of Kasturba, makers felt she was too young to play the part. It was her sheer talent that led them to cast her as Abhaben, one of Gandhiji’s constant and very close associates. Working alongside Ben Kingsley as a newcomer and being a part of an established ensemble was certainly special. Today, her role as Abha is still remembered and she continues to be appreciated for being a part of one of the most highly acclaimed and award-winning film of the world.

Melagrania in ‘Trikaal’ (1985) – Considered to be one of her best roles till date, Gupta’s portrayal of the illegitimate child of a deceased patriarch in Shyam Benegal’s art drama is nothing short of brilliant. Her depiction of the pathos of her character as Dona Maria’s (Leela Naidu) maid and the silent observer who watches everything from the sidelines is so incredibly real. Gupta makes the character believable. She excels in the scene that explores Dona Maria’s relationship Melagrania and soon establishes her craft in the world of art and parallel cinema.

Sukhi in ‘Rihaee’ (1988) – A film completely ahead of its time, the story highlights the unequal and unjust treatment women are subjected to in a society portrayed through a series of women characters from a rural setting. Gupta once again shines in her representation of the character of Sukhi, who is pregnant and abandoned by a man who arrives in the village from Dubai. From the character’s initial excitement with Mansukh’s (Naseeruddin Shah) arrival amidst the life of a lonely village womanhood to her struggle of dealing with the pregnancy through the course of the film, Neena Gupta’s work remain powerful.

Geeta Devi in ‘Woh Chokri’ (1994) – It was the role of Geeta Devi in Subhankar Ghosh’s drama that earned Gupta her much deserving National Award for Best Supporting Actress. Gupta’s character travels through multiple stages of her life from a wealthy yet unfortunate widow to a lady who finds love in a neighbourhood man, leads a happy life, deals with his sudden absence, struggles to survive with a daughter he left and ultimately meets her tragic end. She takes the audience along with the journey of her characters and earns much appreciation for the same.

Priyamvada Kaushik in ‘Badhaai Ho’ (2018) – Not only does this film marks Gupta’s comeback but it also results in giving birth to one of her most loved characters till date. As a mother of two sons, a loving and responsible housewife and the fight to deal of dealing with a late pregnancy, Neena Gupta is outstanding in the portrayal of Mrs Kaushik. The slice-of-drama beautifully deals with a familiar yet uncommon situation with Gupta adding her essence of very real acting to bring the character alive once again. The film received widespread critical and commercial success and earned Gupta the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress.

With more such beautiful roles on the way, hopes she continues to win over people with her talent and wishes the wonderful artist a very Happy Birthday!

– Varsha Roy

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