‘If we are forced to be confined indoors for a month or two months, it’s not such a big deal. It’s not like we are in jail.’
Photographs: Kind courtesy Neena Gupta/Instagram
Ever since Neena Gupta re-invented herself as an actor, she has also been constantly evolving as an individual and an influencer. Her videos during the lockdown on yoga and cooking are immensely popular.
“I am at peace with myself in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand,” Neena tells Subhash K Jha. “My husband and I have our home in an apartment block here. There’s hardly anyone here, so we can take a walk, or just sit on the deck and in the garden gazing at the lovely mountains.”
“I am lucky to have reached here before the lockdown started.”
IMAGE: Neena as Manju Devi, the pradhan of Phulera village, in the season finale episode of Panchayat.
Neena who was last seen in the well-received Web series Panchayat, says she follows a disciplined lifestyle during the lockdown.
“I am very comfortable here. I feel really guilty that there are so many families in Mumbai locked up in tiny apartments with nowhere to breathe freely. Guilt hota hai,” she says.
“I wake up early, have my tea, do yoga from 8 am to 9 pm. Then I have breakfast. Then I plan lunch for us, check on groceries… Storing the groceries is a problem, so is the number of clothes which are very limited and have to be washed repeatedly and worn. The morning goes in my daily chores,” the actress, who made a comeback with Badhai Ho, adds.
“In the afternoon I take a nap, then I read. I just read Ravi Rai’s The Tattoo On My Breast, the new Jack Reacher novel Bluemoon and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. We watch a lot of films and serials in the night.”
“I’ve watched Succession, Money Heist, The Two Popes, Mystic River and, of course, my own Panchayat. Then there are lots of video and telephone interviews to promote Panchayat.”
IMAGE: Neena trims husband Vivek Mehra’s hair.
Neena says she is changing her lifestyle.
“My brand of shampoo got over toh koi baat nahin. I am making do with whatever is available here. I am using Lifebuoy soap instead of my regular brand. And I like it! There is only one grocery store in Mukteshwar and the owner brings all the groceries home. He even gets us our medicines.”
Neena is experimenting with her culinary habits.
“My husband and I are cooking up something new every evening for ourselves, just one dish every evening. Out staff prefers dal-chawal, so we eat and cook our own dinner. The other night we cooked pasta.”
“I thought I’d be able to sleep more here so far away from the hustle bustle of Mumbai. But I am not getting sleep,” rues Neena.
“There is an anxiety about the situation in the country. But I was thinking that the situation is not intolerable. I mean, we have such a long life. If we are forced to be confined indoors for a month or two months, it’s not such a big deal. It’s not like we are in jail,” Neena says.
“We have everything… Aisi koi badi baat nahin. Humein aadaat nahin hai andar rehne ki issi liye shock sa lag raha hai. Just keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass. Jab saadhe-saati aate hain toh saadhe-saat saal bura time rehta hai na?,” she adds.
“And someone rightly observed, Nelson Mandela was in isolation for 27 years. This is not so terrible for us. It is really bad for daily wage earners. I want to urge my fans to help them as much as they can. Hamare din utne burey nahin hain jitney ke unke..”
“I can only help financially from here. I want all those in the cities who can feed the poor to help them in any way.”
Neena’s advice to fans? “Learn something new. I never did gardening. I started here. Now all the plants and trees have flowers on them.”