30 seconds into a chat with Neetu Chandra and you can't miss the fact that she is terribly excited about her just-released film Traffic Signal. After having enjoyed the best of both worlds by debuting in a glam role with Priyadarshan's Garam Masala and doing a volte-face with Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal, she is happy to have explored both ends of the Bollywood world.
And now she wants more...a lot more! Taking out time from her late night shoot for a magazine cover, she tells Joginder Tuteja about what the success of Traffic Signal means to her and how she sees her future in Bollywood as an actor who can demonstrate her prowess with Taekwondo and Kathak with the same ease.
So, what's happening?
As you can see, currently I am shooting for the cover of this magazine for its upcoming issue. It has been a hectic week for me.
I enjoy my work and I would prefer to keep myself busy rather than just sitting back and enjoying my success. Yes, I did have a great time when the film released and for the first few days I was completely into promoting the film and looking at reactions from the audience and critics. Now it's about a fortnight since the release and it would be best for me to move on and continue doing good work rather.
You mentioned two things - reactions from the film and the good work ahead. Let's start with the former.
I don't want to sound modest but it's a fact that since the release of Traffic Signal, all that I have heard is positive response to my act in the film. Reputed critics have mentioned flattering things about me in print that certainly makes me happy as I have just been 2-film old. Further appreciation coming from the audience is an icing on the cake as you feel good to be accepted in two different roles [Garam Masala, Traffic Signal] that are on extremes of a spectrum.
But there have been complains that there is too less of you in the film in spite of being the leading heroine.
First of all, let me say it once again that since the inception of the project it was clear that Traffic Signal was an ensemble film and except for Kunal Khemu who plays a central role, all others would have a varied length of role. Coming to me being seen very little, I believe that it is clearly a perception issue.
And why is that?
Because though my character is introduced towards the middle of the first half, from that moment on I am throughout in the film. If you notice in the second half, I am there throughout in majority of frames and it's just that since I don't have many dialogues in the film due to my characterization, some of you feel that I am not there.
But did the lack of dialogues bother you?
Why should that be? Madhur sir knows what he is doing and for a character played by me who is uneducated and comes from a small town to Mumbai to make a living, it made sense for a silent portrayal. I think it came out beautifully well and the subtle nuances in the character were noticed by many in the business. I am quite content in the end.
Many feel Konkana had a meaty role in the film?
Fair enough; and she did it well too. Though she was mainly in a cameo. But then I don't consider my role to be any lesser. Also, at the end of the day, the girl who is with the leading hero is a heroine and since Kunal is the hero, I am directly classified as the heroine (laughs)!
You seem happy..
And why not? After all starting your career from a 3 heroine masala-entertainer film and then playing a lead role in a thoughtful project is no mean achievement. If this is what I have managed to accomplish within 2 years of being in the industry, I am sure of a fruitful innings in the future.
So what is in future that excites you? A glam doll role or another middle-of-the-road offbeat cinema?
Anything and everything. There were 6 offers that have come to me from reputed production houses within a week of release of Traffic Signal which is only a positive sign. The good part is that since I cannot be slotted after the kind of films I have done, film makers think of me with a clean state of mind and hence approach me with variety of roles.
Have you closed on any of the offers?
I should be taking some decisions in days to come. See, my selection criteria for a role is I should be non-Neetu on screen. The role should of the kind that allows me to play someone who is not the real Neetu by any means. I love doing things in front of camera that I haven't done in real life and that's the excitement of challenge in being in the film world.
How about dancing around the woods?
Why not? There is lot of fun in that. I am a trained Kathak dancer and hence can be extremely competent when it comes to song and dance routine. Is someone out there thinking of kicking stuff for an action film? Then consider me there too since I am proficient at Taekwondo too!
And what if a corporate house comes and wants to sign you for say, a 3 film deal?
I am game for it. That's the way things have been working so very well and I don't see it as any kind of binding on me as an actor, contrary to what some other people in the industry may feel. Tomorrow if UTV wants to sign me on for a 3-film deal and I have 4th film in hand with Priyadarshan and 5th with Madhur, why won't I be elated?
Meanwhile what's happening to the film you signed a few months back - Homeland?
We are still waiting for the shoot to begin since the scripting of the film is in progress. But don't imagine that I would be out of sight, OK!? I would be on the telly by the end of this month since my music video for Ismail Darbar's non-film album would be out. I don a very ethnic Indian look in the video that you should definitely watch!