Even after having a smashing debut down the south and a string of Bollywood releases, Neha Sharma is yet to taste stardom. But the pretty damsel says that she will continue her hard work irrespective of the end result and believes in carving her own destiny.
We recently caught up with Neha for a quick chat where the actress was at her candid best.
Excerpts from the interview...
Q. Your last film Youngistaan released in 2014 and now you have Tum Bin 2 releasing this week. What took you so long to sign a film?
A. Everyone has been asking me this. See, when you make a film there are so many processes involved in it which requires a lot of time. So, I guess unless you are doing a couple of films together, the process will take time from making it to releasing it. I have been picky because I am trying to do anything that's exciting and different from whatever I have done before. I think that has taken a bit of time. But the gap of two years wasn't planned, it just happened.
Q. Your performances have always been appreciated irrespective of your films' fate at the box office. Do you feel you haven't receive your due in Bollywood or have been underrated as an actress?
A. See, honestly I am an outsider in the industry. It took me some time to understand how the business works. There is PR, there is networking and being everywhere and to be seen. I am still learning a lot of things. I feel that's the case with any outsider who comes in and doesn't know anybody in the business. This has been a learning process for me which has taken some time.
About the due, I can just say that's all that I can do..keep working hard, give my movies everything and the rest is up to the industry people and the audience. In fact, the audience has been very nice and welcoming to me. I am glad to have received love and warmth from everybody. Of course, I have found few films because the industry too needs to warm up to you which is always the case for an outsider. It takes some time. I am patient and giving it what I need to give. Hope things will work out well soon.
Q. Tum Bin was a cult film with newcomers in it. So, does that add more pressure as people will have high expectations from this one too?
A. While we were filming it there wasn't any pressure because the movie has a new story, something that we believed in as actors. We wanted to do a good job. But now, when we are doing these interviews this question comes popping up so ya, the pressure is kind of building in now. But then it's always going to be this way because the first film acquired a cult image. Of course there will be comparisons but I think we have worked hard and made a good film. So, people should be welcoming this as well.
Q. We hear that it was a very emotional moment for you when you filmed Teri Fariyaad song..
A. We were kids when Tum Bin released. Jagjit Singh's Teri Fariyaad is a beautiful song. Those were the days when you actually felt way more emotions that what you feel today with changing times. When I saw that song it was something which stayed with me and now I am a part of this track almost reinvented in a way. It was something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Q. How was it working with Aditya Seal and Aashim Seal? Did you get any attention or were they busy among themselves?
A. No, they were busy among themselves. (laughs) They were very hyper and trying to do everything to the best of their ability. I think they were busy with that. They didn't have time to pamper me. (laughs)
Q. Your international film Xuanzang is China's official entry to the Academy Awards this year. How does it feel?
A. It's a great feeling. In fact, I have no idea about it. I was just going through Twitter and I read a tweet about it by Variety magazine. I was like 'wow', now that's what's called a miracle. It's like God had been kind to you from nowhere. You don't anticipate this feeling when a film where you don't have a prominent role achieves something like this. When that film was offered to me, I immediately gave my nod since I loved the director and Wong Kar-wai who is producing this film is one of my favourites. I follow world cinema so it was all very exciting for me. So it's a very happy thing that happened.
Q. We have actresses like Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra doing films in the west but they are more of commercial projects. So, as an actress which space are you more inclined to- world cinema or the commercial ones?
A. I love cinema in general. I am very happy with whatever I am doing. I am also doing films in the south. So, language has never been a barrier for me. But I think what Priyanka has done is to another level altogether. I haven't seen Deepika's work yet. I look up to Priyanka in every which ways. Of course, having said that I want to do interesting stuff. I don't know if it should be commercial or off-beat. I don't have those predetermines in my head about what I should be doing. I don't think like that. I take up anything that's interesting for me as an actor irrespective of the language.
Q. You said that you are very picky when it comes to choosing your films. What kind of roles are you looking out for?
A. Honestly, a million roles. There are many beautiful films being made but I want to do roles where I am not just dancing around the trees. It's more about the actors and the commercial zone that one talks about. I want to do films where there is something to do and where there is some kind of potential for me as an actor. Of course, Vidya Balan and Kangana Ranaut have been doing some great stuff. I am not talking only about women-oriented films. I am taking about cinema which has great content. So, I want to do a lot. It's just the beginning. I know that it's been a slow process.
Q. Out of all the films that you acted in, which is that film that is close to your heart despite of it not working at the box office?
A. Crook has to be very close to my heart because it was my first film. It didn't really do well at the box office but it's going to be very special to me. Another one was Jayantabhai Ki Luv Story. That film wasn't promoted well but I still have people coming up to me and saying that they loved the movie. I have very happy with these films even if they failed to work at the box office.
Q. Tum Bin 2 is a romantic film. So what's your definition of love?
A. For me, love is when you put the other person before you. I am not saying that you buy them a Taj Mahal or give them expensive gifts or give them flowers every day. Love is being selfless.
Q. Your father is a politician. So, how well do you understand politics?
A. I would say that I am pretty dumb when it comes to cricket and politics. My brother and my dad would always discuss cricket but I didn't have that kind of knowledge or bandwidth to sit through the entire cricket match. Thank god, they invented 20-20 matches. (laughs). My dad, my mom and my brother are into politics. They have a lot of political conversations. I am politically aware but politically inclined.
Q. A couple of your movies didn't work well. So, what kept you motivated during that period?
A. It's just the way that I have been brought up. In the end, you have to believe in yourself. The world is not going to believe in you until you believe in yourself and believe that you can do it. I have never believed in destiny. I think you have to work hard and eventually people will see talent if there is. It has taken a lot of time but I guess things will show up if you are hard-working and perseverant. It's just the motivation that I have to make it drives me.