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Neetu Chandra on ‘Umrao’: I hope they don’t compare me with Rekha!

Well known for her glamorous and bold Bollywood avatar, Neetu Chandra is all set to ‘Woo’ the audience as she is all set to make her theatre debut in Umrao, which is also easily one of the most eagerly awaited plays at this year’s Prithvi Festival. We got candid with Neetu Chandra and she too didn’t hesitate much revealing some insider info!

When we asked her if she was moving into the theatre space and moving away from bollywood..
She exclaimed, “Acting makes me very happy and theatre was just another medium that I wanted to try. I’ve always believed theatre keeps the person inside you alive. It is from here where all the respected actors like Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, and Naseeruddin Shah have come. I’ve also seen youngsters like Sushant Singh Rajput and Ranbir Kapoor hanging out at Prithvi. So everyone loves theatre today. I’m sure all movie actors would want to do plays. As for me, the moment I was offered the role of Umrao Jaan, I grabbed it. I was ecstatic that out of all the actresses in Bollywood, I was chosen. A lot of people have told me, ‘You’re crazy for doing this’. I often wonder, when Rekhaji was offered Umrao Jaan, she must have also heard the same things. But I am not giving up on movies.”

Neetu was well aware of the comparison which will be made with Rekha and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who have essayed the character of Umrao in movie..
She said, “So it goes like this: Rekha, Aishwarya and now me. Oh my God! I really wish people don’t compare me to them. Because those were films and this is a play. But I am not at all worried about the comparisons. I am only anxious about me able to do justice to the role.”

So when asked if turning to theatre means giving up her film career..
Neetu replied, “First of all, I live my life on risks. Secondly, you could say that I’m following Hollywood, as all the actors there dabble in theatre. I am an artiste and don’t care about these things. I feel theatre gives an actor respect and if I can carry off commercial films and even pull off theatre, what else can I ask for? In the most humble way possible, all I can say is, I’m a leader, not a follower. Maybe other actresses will start following in my footsteps after watching my play!”

When questioned how the audience will accept her as Umrao considering the fact that she has such a glam-image..
She said, “Audiences have changed today. You need to give them great content and work really hard. And I love working hard; I can’t accept anything that comes easily to me. Also, people who are doing theatre will always be respected, by the audiences as well as industrywallas, so that’s not an issue.”

When we asked her if at all she had ever imagined herself performing live on stage infront of audience..
She calmly replied, “I’ve been dying to do theatre. For the last six-seven years I’ve been coming to Prithvi and I always wondered if I would ever get a chance to perform on stage. There’s no bigger event than the Prithvi festival. When I heard the script of Umrao, I cried at the end. It is so amazing. By doing this play, I am just trying to make myself happy for a change. Actors try to make everyone else happy; I even tried to do that, par log mujhse khush nahi hote! So I’m glad Purva Naresh (who has adapted the play) and Hidayat Sami (director) thought of me. Niranjan Iyengar, who has written the lyrics, has given me very difficult words, because I can pronounce them easily. He said he has worked with actresses like Rani Mukerji and Priyanka Chopra but the clarity that I have in my diction, no other actress has.”

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