MUMBAI — The “Qayamat”-“Julie” babe has been low-key for years now, and, after all those skin-flicks she has done, we saw Neha Dhupia in a slew of critically-appreciated films with Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak that went nowhere at the box office. And so the good thing is that Dhupia is still around, 13 years after her debut, and is set to release “Santa Banta Pvt. Ltd.” For good measure, she is also busy doing social work like backing acid-attack victims.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What was the motivating factor in signing this film when Boman Irani and Vir Das are in central roles, and there are a whole lot of comedians in the cast?
A: The same — the superb cast. I also got to shoot in Fiji. More importantly, the film promises to be family entertainment. It added color in my head when I heard the script. I laughed at the script, because it was so ridiculous. And comedies like this have to be ridiculous to work. I am playing the Fijian ambassador’s wife.
Q: Are you there in “Julie 2” as well?
A: Not a chance! I have had my fill of such films. I enjoyed “Kyaa Kool Hain Hum,” and I think the first part was the best, and after that they went over-the-top. At that time, it was our first sex comedy. I think I won’t be able to show half my films to my kids! (Laughs)
Q: You have done a lot of films with your friends Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak.
A: Yes, I enjoy working with them, and their films are very different. I am now doing “Moh Maya Money” now with Ranvir Shorey. Rajat is producing the film and his ex-EP Munish is directing it. It’s really, really interesting. We are premiering it at the New York Film Festival next month. Rajat and those guys are so much fun. Rajat once told me that my work will be immortal if I correct the mistakes I have made so far. Sometimes, you make choices, because on paper something looks good. I don’t have that many choices coming up now — even on paper. I hope my manager becomes smart and gets me good work!
Q: How enjoyable was “Santa Banta…?”
A: The vibe on a comedy film is always very enjoyable, though while shooting, it’s all serious business, and we are all deep into timing and so on. But on the sets, it was a lot of fun, and Johny Lever was keeping us all together, doing stand-up acts on the slightest encouragement! Though within the film, Santa and Banta are like the outfits, and all of us are like the accessories!
Q: What is the most challenging part of doing a comedy — the timing or something else?
A: You cannot give such famous comedians a bad name with your bad performance, because that will make them look bad! I think that’s very important.
Q: What is the hardest part of acting?
A: Kissing, definitely. I can write and give it to you in blood that I really do not want to do it, and, if you do want to kiss, it’s definitely not in front of 200 people on the sets! (Laughs) But my line of philosophy in life has always been ‘Fake it till you make it.’
Q: So would you say you have made it? What is satisfying about your career?
A: That I have been here a long, long time, though I was given only three years by my detractors when I made my debut! I do not know how to establish and retain a connection with important people, but I have tried to grow as an actor all along.
Watch the "Santa Banta Pvt. Ltd." trailer: