Neetu Kapoor is back to doing what she loves best — acting. The actor has returned to the arc lights after a long sabbatical and says the experience helped her regain her balance after husband Rishi Kapoor’s death in 2020. The actor will be seen in JugJugg Jeeyo, which releases this Friday.
As Neetu promotes her upcoming film, which revolves around love, marriage, divorce, and everything in between, she is revisiting her memories of her marriage and family ties. In this interview, Neetu candidly opens up about Rishi, her mother-in-law Krishna Raj Kapoor, and how her son Ranbir Kapoor is balancing his relationships after wedding with Alia Bhatt.
About why she decided to get back to acting after nine years, Neetu says, “Once an actor, always an actor. But, you need a lot of confidence, which I had lost in the interim because I had not worked for so long. Then I lost my husband… When I started shooting the film, I didn’t have it. But now I think I am confident, I can do it and I’ll now keep doing more work.”
About facing her insecurities, Neetu said, “When we were half way through the movie, I’d tell a friend that it is not my cup of tea, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to go on set, I was so stressed. Now, however, I feel much better and I want to do more work. It is all about confidence, and I am gaining it back.”
Acting means more to Neetu now than it ever did; it is her way of coping with her husband’s death. She shares, “It keeps you busy, it is like a job. Acting is my occupation. What else can I do, I am all alone. Nobody lives with me, both my children are married. So, what do I do? I’d be very sad thinking about my past and my husband. So, I decided that it is better to be busy, kaam karte raho, dil behel jaataa hai. So, it is a good thing.”
When she was asked how she manages to be so candid and full of life even after coming out of a tumultuous phase in her personal life, she says, “Maybe because I am a positive person. I don’t know the reason, it is just the way I am. My husband used to tell me how he felt that I was a very normal human being. He’d say, ‘there is no air about you. No show.’ He used to have very very beautiful girlfriends but he left them all (for me). So I used to ask him why he left them, to which he’d say, ‘woh apne mein hi lagi rehti hai. But you’re very normal, I like normal people’.”
Neetu was at the peak of her career and all of 22 when she tied the knot with Rishi and gave it all up. “I don’t know how I did it, himmat aa jaati hai. Maybe it was my love for their family, my love for him. From childhood, I just knew Rishi Kapoor. I was 14 when he came in my life, so after someone being a part of your life for so long, they become your own person, so you want to do everything ke woh thik ho jaaye. When he (Rishi) had to go, he did, but you want everything to be okay. I think basically you just have to love that person. I say this quite often, if you love your husband, you love his family; if you don’t like their family that means you don’t love your husband. And, I have a relationship with every member of my family, like his sister Reema is my best-friend. My niece Natasha, she is my best friend, they love me more than they love Chintu mama. So, you have to build your relationship. I feel if you love that person you have to make that effort to love everybody.”
She then shared how her relationship with her mother-in-law, Krishna Raj Kapoor, helped her survive difficult times in her life. “Someone was asking me, how I managed to have such a good relationship with my mother-in-law. Today I miss my mother-in-law the maximum. I miss her more than my husband. I miss my husband because I don’t have a companion. I miss how we both used to go out for lunches, we’d travel. Now whom do I make these plans with. But my relationship with my mother-in-law was outstanding. I would call her and go, ‘your son said this, did that’ and she would say, ‘your husband…,’ and I’d say ‘woh tumhara beta hai…,’ and we used to fight like that,” she shared.
“My father-in-law used to say, ‘dusri Krishna aa gayi hai ghar mein!’ (bursts out in laughter). So, we shared a great relationship, I’d be like ‘don’t touch my mother-in-law’, you know she was very beautiful woman, very radiant. So we had a very easy relationship and I miss that,” she added.
Neetu can’t get enough of sharing how happy she is that her son Ranbir is now a married man, and that Alia is her daughter-in-law. She shared, “People asked me how will be my relationship with Alia, and it will be be the same as it was for me and my mother-in-law. Alia is a lovely person. She is a beautiful, simple, uncorrupted human being. So, I feel the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is the husband’s fault. Because you love your mother so much, and jab tum joru ka gulaam ban jaate ho na, fir maa ko problem hoti hai. If you balance your love for your mother and your wife, it is always nicer. She will love you more. When you become too much of your wife, that’s when the mother feels… (Laughs).”
On being asked if she is getting a feeling like that now that her son has been married. She said, “I am not getting this feeling because my son is a very intelligent man, he balances his love. He doesn’t go all ‘mom mom mom,’ he may call me once in five days and ask, ‘aap thik ho na?’. For him to ask me this is enough.”
Neetu then opened up about her equation with her son, and how he would comfort her when she complained to him about a fight with his father. She said, “Whenever I’d have any problem, I’ either call my mother-in-law or I’d call Ranbir. Wherever I’d be in the world, I’d be like, ‘your dad, your dad, your dad..,’ because with me it is like if I say things out, I feel happy, whereas if something is troubling me from within, I feel very heavy inside. So, I had to tell somebody, and it used to be my mother-in-law and Ranbir and he would ask, ‘acchha mom, kya karna hai aapko?,’ and that would be enough for me to feel relaxed, because ‘kya kar sakti hoon, kahaan jaaoungi?’ Bas bol diya.
When asked if she gives any marital advice to her son or her new daughter-in-law Alia, she said, “These days, you can give any advice to anyone, woh sab seekh ke aate hai. They’ll teach you, nobody listens to you. It is better to stay away from advising.”
Neetu is awaiting the release of her film JugJugg Jeyo with Ali Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Kiara Advani on June 24.