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Panchayat star Neena Gupta talks about the supporting actor label and the solution to it - ‘The society is patriarchal…’ | Exclusive

Neena Gupta, who is gearing up for the release of Panchayat Season 3, spoke to OTTplay about the supporting actor label and has a very interesting take on it. 

Panchayat star Neena Gupta talks about the supporting actor label and the solution to it - ‘The society is patriarchal…’ | Exclusive
Neena Gupta In Exclusive Conversation With OTTplay

Last Updated: 11.23 PM, May 28, 2024


No one could ever add Neena Gupta’s name to the list of people who mince their words. She is bold, brutal, and honest to the core and when she sits down for conversations, you come out with a perspective that is not just unique but very substantial. The actor who now joins Panchayat Season 3 to play her recurring part, Manju Devi, has been in the system for decades now and has given some of the most iconic movies. But the loud applause where the spotlight is on her and not the hero didn't come to her before the 2018 release Badhaai Ho, where she played a woman who is battling the taboo around late pregnancy. Even with Aayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra alongside her, it was her and Gajraj Rao everyone was talking about. 

Team Panchayat 3 On Supporting Actor Label

But is that enough? We dissect this with Neena Gupta as she sits down for a conversation with OTTplay alongside Panchayat director Deepak Kumar Mishra and costar Faisal Malik who plays Prahlad on the show. When I met Neena during the promotions of the last season, she couldn't wrap her head around the term 'supporting actor'. She felt everyone is an actor and they are supporting each other, so why are only a specific set of people labelled as supporting actors? Why are they not just actors? As we met again ahead of Panchayat Season 3, I asked her if anything had changed in the system and Gupta saidm "Not much", while Deepak and Faisal offered solutions. 


During the course of our exclusive conversation, when Neena Gupta was asked if anything had changed for her and the system in terms of the supporting actor label, the actor was quick to say, “There is none of that on the sets of Panchayat. But overall, it still exists. For my age, I think Badhaai Ho is the only film in which an actor of my age got the Best Actor award. I also got the supporting actor award at a lot of places. But Best Actor too, which is, I think, rare, and took so many years. This happens in our system.” 

When asked whether there is a solution to this or not, Faisal Malik was the first to say, “The solution comes from within the system; it's not in our hands. Everybody together will have to do it. That's the only way we can change it or it will happen and it has been happening.” Neena Gupta added, “Even our society is like this. The society is patriarchal. The 'others' are always supporting actors in society. Even in our homes, the one who earns the most is the hero, and his words are always taken seriously. The one who does nothing is always ignored. It is like that."

Deepak Kumar Mishra, who has by now directed all three seasons of Panchayat on Amazon Prime Video, says the solution is in the writing. “I think writing is the only solution. Everything boils down to how you are writing the story. Panchayat was never conceptualised in a way that there would be one hero and five supporting actors; it was never like that. Everybody was a character, everybody was an actor, and everybody was playing his/her part in the story. So I think it all depends on the writing.”

Deepak added, “If I take an example from the West, actors in their 50s and 60s are leading shows and films; a Sully is being made there, right? Tom Hanks does it, right?” Neena Gupta adds, “It happens there.” Deepak continues, “I think we don't write those characters and work on set patterns; rather, we think if one thing has worked, let's do that again. I think this reform will only be possible if makers decide to, only they can. That is when we will see a change.” 

Check Out The Conversation Here

About Panchayat Season 3

The story of Phulera continues as Abhishek, aka Sachiv, is transferred after the Vidhayak is insulted in Phulera. The village is moving on from the tragic loss it suffered last season. But the Vidhayak still aims to make their lives hell. In the scheme of events, Abhishek returns, and the village stands against the atrocities of the politician. But wait, there is now a big danger. 

Panchayat Season 3 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Stay tuned to OTTplay for more information on this and everything else in the world of streaming and films.

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