Her on-screen characters challenged social norms but in real life Neena Gupta says men became a priority and her focus shifted from career to finding the right partner.
The 64-year-old actor, who is known for her performance in TV shows such as "Khandaan", "Bharat Ek Khoj" and "Saans" and movies like "Woh Chokri", "Gandhi" and "Muhafiz", says her desire to have a healthy relationship diverted her attention from work.
"I always wanted to do good work and play strong parts. But when I look back now, I feel men became my priority and it was a big mistake. My focus shifted from career to finding the right man. Men should never be the prime focus of women's life," Gupta told PTI.
"I was doing really well. I was writing, directing and producing some great things on television. What I went through in personal life had a big impression on my professional choices," she added.
The veteran actor believes women are conditioned to keep their relationships above their personal goals.
"As women, we always crave for family and a loving partner and in our quest to find that happy space we overlook a lot of things. I now understand I should have prioritised things better."
Gupta said it is still hard for women to have a life they aspire to and be with a man who treats them as an individual.
"It is close to impossible to find a man who can bear with a woman, who is a notch above or equal to him. Such men are still not there in this world. It is like we will always be facing trouble in our lives.
"If we act strong it is a problem, and if we don't it is a problem. I don't know if any woman is completely happy with the way she leads her life or with the way people treat her," she added.
The actor, however, believes #MeToo movement in India will change the status quo.
"#MeToo has shaken the whole industry. But the sad part is that it is so hard to prove such incidents. I have been on my own for the longest time and have faced a lot of such incidents during my days in college, National School of Drama. I don't know how we can get a proof of a person groping us or touching us inappropriately. All we could do at that time was get used to it or try our best to avoid it," she said.
Gupta hopes the movement will probably instill some fear in people who abuse their power.
"I am hopeful that some change will come. The movement will be able to instill some fear. But it will take time."
The actor, who will next be seen in "Badhaai Ho", said to change the way men treat women, society, especially mothers, need to get rid of the patriarchal mindset.
"Men can only change if they are taught right things by their mothers. I hope the coming generations of men will be much more sensitive towards women. Sadly mothers of my age still have the same patriarchal mindset."
Badhaai Ho is directed by Amit Sharma and also featuring Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Gajraj Rao. PTI