Bollywood has been thriving on hero-centric stories since time immemorial. Unfortunately, even today, actors are still considered the more important asset on a film at most places. However, in the last 15 years or so, makers have tried to bring forth more and more female-driven stories. Earlier these stories didn't attract much audience, but with films like Queen, Raazi and NH 10 working so well at the box office, the audience has kind of started responding to these so-called women-centric films.
Neil Bhoopalam started his career about a decade ago and in that time, he has been a part of several female-centric projects, including No One Killed Jessica, NH 10, Four More Shots Please! and Masaba Masaba. In an industry, where many actors still don’t want to be at the backfoot to an actress in a project, Neil has never shied away from taking such projects up. Does he feel a sense of pride in that? “Yes, I get that sense. But firstly, I feel grateful. When a producer, casting director or the director discuss a project with me that is female-centric and for an integral part of a man in the film, they want to have me on board, I feel flattered because they are choosing me. They have put a lot of thought into their story and who is going to be the face of it and a part of the world that they are creating, and they chose me,” he smiles.
However, he also goes on to recall his hesitation to be a part of Anushka Sharma’s NH 10. “In NH 10, initially I wasn’t sure about doing the film, but then Atul Mongia, the casting director, spoke to me and told me that this was a big project. He suggested that I consider just jumping on board instantly. And after that, there was no turning back,” he gushes, adding that as long as he is busy and his part is on a good canvas, he is okay with doing more such stories.
Ask Neil how being around such strong female characters has inspired him, and he quips, “My wife Nandini Shrikent is herself a very strong character, so I am used to having strong women in my life.” He goes on to add that around such strong characters, he looks forward to his work and tries to contribute his best. “You know you are getting their best. You are receiving their energy, so it’s your duty to try and push yourself and play the best game that you can play,” he concludes.
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