Charting New Waters

Neha Dhupia on marriage, motherhood & meaningful work

 

Exuding effortless grace in a casual summer dress and no make-up, Neha Dhupia comes across as someone you’d want to hang out with. She breezes into the studio flashing her mega-watt smile, making sure to greet every person in the room individually. Seven months into pregnancy, she’s glowing with happiness. 2018 is her year; she’s taken it by storm. From her beautiful low-key wedding to best friend Angad Bedi to her angelic baby shower look, Neha has been the much-discussed beacon of positivity, a breath of fresh air. On the professional front, she has made waves with her power-packed performance in Lust Stories and kept viewers and listeners entertained at the edge of their seats with Vogue BFFs and #NoFilterNeha. As her success skyrockets and a new chapter in her life unfolds, we have a candid chat with her in this Aza exclusive interview.

 

This has been a big year for you! Your wedding, a lot of great work, and now the baby coming.

 

It started off easy. I had no idea that there would be so much madness in my life – I call it madness because it’s nice. I like things that are unplanned. Throughout my life, I’ve always said that I just go with the flow, and now my personal life has actually taken this amazing go-with-the-flow definition of the way I used to describe myself. I don’t know what state I will be in when people read this. I am a mum in the making; I don’t know if I will be a mum by then or there will still be a few weeks left. So let’s see, I’m very excited! It’s been a whirlwind year. I didn’t wake up on the 1st of January 2018 thinking that this is where I’ll be at the end of the year. I woke up in my apartment single, and now there will be three of us by the end of 2018. It’s been quite a year!

 

Is it difficult to balance everything?

 

It is. I finished a show which is going to release in mid-October; it’s called Style by Neha, and it airs on Fox. I was shooting when I was almost 5 or 6 months pregnant, and I kept it away from the entire unit because I didn’t want anyone to handle me with kid gloves. I just wanted to be completely professional on set. When you have a style and makeover show that’s based entirely on you it’s a huge compliment, so I was very flattered when Fox came to me with it. I’m also in Season 3 with #NoFilterNeha. That takes the mickey out of me because I’m the producer, and I also handle some of the creatives along with my writer who of course is absolutely fabulous. When you’re a producer you’re micromanaging everything – before the shooting or recordings begin, you’re handling everything from moving tables and arranging cookies and water for the guests to working on content. It’s a lot! Right now, in the state I’m in, I’m just really blessed that I’m working every day, and that’s what keeps me going.

 

You had a surreal, beautiful low-key wedding. How did you know you found the one?

 

You never actually know till you know. I think it was the way he brought everything together. We have been friends for many years, but the love kind of happened a few months before the wedding. We never really dated each other. He was very clear in his head when he saw me 15 years ago in a gym. He said, “this is the girl I’m going to marry.” We’ve been friends ever since, and the whole time – the entire time – he would say “listen I don’t want to date you. You are not one of my flings. If you ever come into my life, you’re going to be my wife, and the mother of my children.” So I think it’s the clarity that he had, because I’m the kind of person in a shop who thinks “should I buy this dress or should I buy that dress?” or at a restaurant thinks “should I eat this, or should I eat that?” But he is very clear. I asked him, “how certain are you?” He said “200%.” I said, “that makes it 100% for you and 100% for me!”

There are so many qualities in him that I get to know every day, after marriage as well. My only advice on marriage to everybody is to get married to a friend of yours. If he happens to be your best friend, don’t even think more than once, because it’s too easy. Everybody told me that marriage is going to be hard, that this is going to happen and that is going to happen. But nothing has changed! We wake up, have our cup of tea, talk about what’s going on, go our separate ways through the day, come back, maybe go and work out together, and then have dinner. It’s a lot of chat and sometimes we go out for a meal. It’s normal – it’s no big deal!

 

How would you define marriage in three words?

 

It’s easy. It’s very fulfilling, because it completes you. It’s work – you have to work towards it. For me marriage is just something you sign on paper, but the companionship that comes with it is what makes it so beautiful.

 

What kind of bride were you?

 

Last minute! I was a last-minute bride. I did what I do every day of my life – I overslept! By two hours, actually. I woke up at 8am instead of 6am. I had to do the chuda and all, and I was like “no way Jose!” It was rushed, but very chilled. I felt in control.

 

What advice would you have for a girl getting married?

 

Don’t make a big deal out of it. Go with the first idea you have. I always wanted to wear baby pink on my wedding, so I went with that. Don’t go to multiple stores and see different things. Don’t overdo it. Elegance comes when you underplay it. And shop at Aza!

 

Social media has become a core part of weddings today. What are your thoughts on social media? Do you feel the pressure to keep up with it?

 

Angad and I have used social media in more ways than one. We announced our wedding through Instagram. We announced our baby through Instagram. Sometimes when we have tea, we don’t talk to each other because we’re both on Instagram taking pictures. He posts something with me on it, I repost it, and then we look at each other and think “are we really DMing each other?” We take our social media pretty seriously as a couple. We are very curious about different people and their lives, and it’s fun. But we are well mannered when it comes to phone usage. If he picks it up, then I pick it up, and we’re like “10 minutes, no more.” The rule is that you can’t be checking your phone as the last thing at night or the first thing in the morning.

 

How do you feel about the next phase in your life – pregnancy and being a mother?

 

Wow I’ve never spoken about this! I’m excited. I’m nervous. A lot of people have said a lot of things to me, but I’m not listening to anyone. I feel like there is no bad mother, whether she is a working mum, a stay-at-home mum, or a mum who tries to balance it all; whether she gets help, or doesn’t get help. All parents for that matter. There are no bad parents, only different parents. I don’t know what kind of parent I will be. I have certain rules in my head – I definitely want an early bedtime for my child. I want those three hours to myself after 7:30pm! I have some very close friends who have just had a baby, between Karan, Soha, Konkona, and others who are not out in the media. I’ve had a lot of people coming forward and helping me. I listen more to the people I like, if I’m close to someone and I feel like they are doing a decent job. I’m hoping that I don’t end up making a big deal out of it, but only time will tell. I could say that I’m not going to obsess, but maybe I will. I’ve been raised by parents who were not obsessive. My mum’s going to be coming in for a while, and let’s hope that I get a lot of her in me while I’m raising my child – that will be a big plus. She doesn’t make a big deal out of anything. I could say anything to her and she would say “first relax, sit down, and now let’s find a solution.” She’s cool like that.

 

What are some ridiculous or funny name suggestions you have got?

 

I find the new age names really bad – Ahana, Ishana, Rehana, you know all those ones. But I’m not taking any suggestions. Errikos just shot for us, and he said that if it’s a boy to name him Errikos. I want to tell him through this interview that as much as I like his work, it’s not happening!

 

Your performance in Lust Stories was fantastic. What made you select the role?

 

Look what a dildo did! When you do anything with Dharma or Karan, you know you’re in the right hands, and it’s got everything to do with Karan. The other actresses – Bhumi, Radhika, Kiara, Manisha – everybody was amazing. All the directors did such a great job and it was such a great portrayal of sexuality and lust, done in the right way. I was really proud to be a part of the project.

 

Your thoughts on being the cover of the Aza Magazine’s anniversary issue?

 

It’s amazing! We’ve been planning this cover for so long, and I’m really happy because this is my baby’s first cover. As soon as the baby comes out, I’m going to show him or her, “look you’re on the cover!” I don’t usually wear a lot of colour, but it was great to see myself in so much colour. It was a relaxed and easy shoot. Maternity clothes don’t need to look a certain way – they can look high fashion as well, and I’m glad that Aza, the magazine, the team, Devangi, everyone gave me the opportunity to be on the cover!

 

 

Photography: Errikos Andreou
Styling: Sohaya Misra
Hair & Make Up: Elton Fernandez

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