2020 was a very weird and uncertain year for everyone but for Neil Bhoopalam, professionally, it was an amazing year as he had three releases—The Raiker Case, Four More Shots Please! Season 2 and Masaba Masaba—along with an unforgettable cameo in Vidya Balan’s Shakuntala Devi. The OTT platform came as a blessing for the actor.
In an exclusive conversation with Spotboye.com, the actor talks about the role of OTT in his career, his upcoming projects and his son. Read excerpts from the interview:
The arrival of OTT has reinvented a lot of careers, including yours. Do you think the platform gives you not only more, but also different and unique stories to be a part of?
One hundred percent. Masaba Masaba is a prime example of such a unique concept. You cannot have had such a story about five-seven years ago. Masaba Gupta herself has grown in the mass media of India. The whole country knew about her and her family. For Ashwini Yardi, our producer, to collaborate with Sonam Nair, our director, to create a show where you mix reality and fiction was just wow. I was ready to even walk across frames to just be a part of that show. I was ready to play a spot boy or a peon in the show as well (Laughs).
Speaking of Masaba Masaba, did you get to witness the chemistry between the mother-daughter duo Neena Gupta and Masaba off screen?
I was just on the set for one day when Neena ji was also shooting, and when I got to shake her hand, I just told her that I was waiting to meet her for almost my entire life as me and my parents used to watch her in Saans. As a mother-child, Neena ji and Masaba have a rapport that everyone can learn from. It becomes aspirational to see how the two generations jam and have a jugalbandi. It was so awesome just to be standing around them.
Speaking of parenthood, how was it spending Father’s Day last month with your son Fateh?
I hadn’t seen my son for two months, and I came back to Delhi to be with him last month. I was in Mumbai with my parents for two months before that as we were to start shooting for Four More Shots Please! and Masaba Masaba 2. But it stopped, so I stayed there. In his entire life, and he is four years old now, this was the longest break I had been away from him. Fatherhood is really good and I would highly recommend it.
I am sure you and your wife Nandini would let Fateh choose his own career path. But would you like to see him follow your footsteps in this business?
It’s a valid question. I don’t hope for him to join the same business but I do hope for him to maintain an understanding that as a human being and artist, you can immensely contribute to the world through your art. Maybe it could organically happen, but there is no expectation from my side. The other day, my dad was talking to me and saying that me and Nandini should make a movie for Fateh and put him in it. I told him that kids also have to work long hours in the industry, and he said that we should make him work only three hours a day (Laughs). Then I got to thinking that Will Smith’s son was also just four when he came into films with The Pursuit Of Happiness. But it’s all brainstorming for now.
As for Four More Shots Please!, the second season took the team to Istanbul, so any foreign locations would be there this season as well?
Perhaps a place where there’s massive oxygen (Laughs). It’s just a joke. But in the writing, Italy was in the script. I started shooting with Kirti Kulhari and Amrita Puri, and did about six days of shooting with them before the shoot had to go on hold.
The show has been loved by many but there were a lot of sceptics as well. Last year, when the show got international recognition by being nominated at the International Emmy Awards, do you think it helped the show get more acceptance?
We are really important players as media, and Indian mass media is growing from strength to strength. Firstly it’s because of our population. Everyone has their personal theatre in their pockets and the invention of smartphones is what has given me a lucrative career. Globally also, the more Indians go abroad, they find the sense of home in the stories they watch and that’s where OTT comes in. So, it’s not just a job but also like a seva.
So, what other projects are you working on now?
Now I feel I need to contribute my own time and energy to see whether I would be able to put together and develop a story wherein I would be able to play to my strength, as opposed to worrying about maybe if I had to quit my job and become a Dunzo delivery boy as that’s what I am qualified to do (Laughs). I haven’t signed anything new, but there is a busy schedule coming up of the projects already in the pipeline. I really want to do comedy now, and I want to do comedy for the next 10 years now. Anyway, right now the trend is of thrillers, as eight out of 10 projects are thrillers today.
Do you also plan to delve into direction someday?
I would really like to and that’s why I need to do more acting. Theatre is my passion and screen mass media is my trade.
Image Source: Instagram/neilbhoopalam
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