'I try to be my own person and that's it': Neetu Singh Kapoor

I try to be my own person and thats it: Neetu Singh Kapoor

Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 11 May 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 May 2018, 1:55 PM

She isn't reclusive. Neither is she a film party crawler. Whenever she's sighted at a moviedom event (once in a while), she prefers to cut a low profile. So when she broke into an impromptu boogie at a wedding reception lately, heads turned and how. Neetu Singh Kapoor is unlike any other star wife I've ever met: no airs, no big talk, and no laments whatsoever about pausing her career after a widely applauded second innings with Do Dooni Chaar (2010) and Besharam (2013), besides cameos in Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012).

Quite candidly, she says, "I'm not a morning person. Why get up early and spend hours and hours in a studio when I'd rather be at home? It's not as if I have to keep proving the point that I can act!"

There's been a five-year hiatus since Besharam, which was notable only for the casting coup of Rishi, Neetu and son Ranbir sharing screen space. Vis-à-vis the romedy's no-show at the cash counters, she says, "Win some, lose some. And it's not as if I've ruled out returning to the cameras and lights completely. Who knows? If there's a fantastic role that challenges me, I'd go for it. But parts aren't specifically written for my age group, are they?"

She's just a couple of months away from turning 60, on July 8. In the course of a conversation, I ask the impeccably-turned-out Neetu why she had once resisted acting offers - including the mother's role in Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), which was eventually enacted by Jaya Bachchan. To that, she smiles, "In retrospect, I admit I shouldn't have procrastinated. Not only because the role had substance, but also because I lost out on an opportunity to work for the production banner of Karan Johar - whom I have known ever since he was a little boy."

Neetu is generous with her smiles and talks straight. Here, then, are excerpts from our chat-fest:

What keeps you in an upbeat mood?
Hey, I didn't know I always wear a smile on my face! If I do, maybe that's because I can't sulk or put on a sullen face. I'm a happy person. I believe if you have a problem, just solve it. If you're overweight, lose the flab, instead of whining about it. To be honest, if someone irritates me, then I just cut off that person from my life. Really, you can't be happy in a tense atmosphere. I have an aversion to people who are like complaint boxes.
You've been married for almost 38 years now. Didn't you rush into marriage a bit too early at the age of 22?
I could have waited for a few more years and matured mentally. Frankly, I didn't have a mind of my own. Sometimes, I wish I could have done a few more movies as a heroine. The last ones I'd appeared in were a mixed bunch: Chorni, Raaj Mahal, Teesri Aankh and Ganga Meri Maa. Today, when I'm asked for autographs, I wonder whatever for? Quite a few of my movies as a heroine were extremely popular, particularly their songs and dances. But I'm not sure whether any movie of mine will be remembered as a classic.
Have your views on marriage changed over time?
Nope. Marriage is forever. The romance may fade but it's for keeps. Priorities may change, but the love remains sacred.
At one point years ago, your marriage nearly hit the rocks. Who did you turn to then?
My kids Riddhima and Ranbir stood by me throughout. I realised how strong I can be. I could have fallen apart, but I stood my ground. Life returned to normal. I guess it was just a mid-life crisis. Every marriage goes through difficult times; ours was no different. Some couples don't talk about their problems; some do, so that they can be sorted out.
What lessons did you learn?
None. Every phase simply makes you stronger. When Riddhima went abroad to study for the first time, I cried for 10 days non-stop. The second time she went, I had pulled myself together. And I didn't cry at all when Ranbir went to study abroad. It's not that I love Ranbir any less or more. Obviously, I had to adapt to the idea of my children leaving for long periods of time. I was weak and scared; today, I'm not.
How is your equation with the Kapoor clan - your in-laws?
They've always been family. If I'd been fake with them, they would have seen through me. If I have an issue of any kind with any one of my in-laws, I don't let that fester within me. My mother-in-law (Krishna Raj Kapoor) treats me like her daughter. Reema, my sister-in-law, has been a buddy even before I got married.
Ranbir's very close to you. It's no secret that, over the years, Ranbir has been linked with Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and now Alia Bhatt. And your approval matters the world to him.
All I can say is that, yes, Ranbir and I are very close. He tells me about everything, including his love life, his girlfriends. I don't ever nag him. He listens very quietly when I tell him he has done something wrong. Maybe that's why the family often teases him that he's a mama's boy.
Does he confide in you about heartbreak - like, say, when he breaks up with a girlfriend?
Oh, yes! Whenever I've detected that he's going through a heartbreak, I've asked him, "Are you okay?" And he has said, "Mum, I'm doing fine. I'm much better, don't worry." He's very emotional. At times, when he's felt hurt, he has told me he doesn't want to get involved with any girl, he doesn't want to be distracted from his work.
Would you say you are a role model for Bollywood star housewives?
Am I? Please, I don't have any delusions of grandeur. I try to be my own person and that's it. I work out and eat healthy - but that's not out of any vanity. I try to keep fit. simple. in sync with my age. I do yoga and work out religiously. Even if I've had a late night, I don't skip my workouts.

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