Neena Gupta’s ‘Sach Kahun Toh’ book review: Few memoirs have the power to keep a reader’s curiosity from start to finish the way Neena Gupta’s ‘Sach Kahun Toh’ has. Several memoirs, particularly when written by actors, tend to brag but Neena strikes a heartwarming chord in her book. She is candid yet self-analytical and draws lessons from her life’s experiences including rookie mistakes in the world of cinema.
While Neena Gupta is a known name and needs no introduction, the book attempts to do exactly that – introduce the reader to the real Neena, the one who has been labelled unconventional, rebellious and bold in the world of cinema.
On this day, which is Neena Gupta’s birthday, let’s take a brief journey into her inspiring life and bold choices that she candidly shares in her memoirs.
Candid lessons from personal and professional life
Be it her personal life or professional struggles, far from bragging, Neena Gupta tells it as it is, sometimes to the point of such sensitivity of shielding those who deeply hurt and betrayed her trust. Throughout the book, it is clear that her parents have been her pillars of unconditional love and support, even when she has not always agreed with them when it came to the vital decisions in her life including marriage and motherhood. She also candidly shares how trusting an ‘aunty’ proved to be one of the most painful phases in her life.
Notably, the actor demonstrates respect for safeguarding the privacy of others while changing many of their names in her memoirs as she does not want their families to be hurt. Of course, she is candid enough to also state that the lawyers have advised her to, which is part of the charm of reading this tell-all memoirs.
Her personality shines through in her book, as do her parents, whose world revolved around the well being of their children.
Perhaps due to the bitter reality that her own privacy has been under the spotlight and violated several times by curious minds.
Neena Gupta’s early years as a Delhi girl
Growing up as a Delhi girl in a middle class home, the early years of her life are easily relatable for most readers. Yet her life has been full of surprises that set tongues wagging, which is exactly why this book matters. It puts things in Neena’s perspective, and gives her story to us in her own words.
Tackling sensitive issues with sensitivity could not have come easy for a well known actor and a public personality. Few women would have dared to tread the ground but Neena confesses that the pandemic helped her to do just that – to come out and share her story as candidly as possible.
Neena Gupta’s memoirs: What readers can expect
A glimpse of the actor’s real struggles is what makes this book a must-read.
Precious nuggets of her life’s resilience are articulated through real life incidents such as when she refers to her relationship with Vivian Richards and convinces readers to respect her privacy; when long-time friend Satish Kaushik offered to stand-in as the father of her child and the logic behind her refusal; when an eminent director treats her in an unbecoming way on the sets and Anil Kapoor offers to intervene on her behalf and she politely refuses.
In Neena Gupta’s memoirs, one gets a glimpse of the gentler and caring side of actors and eminent personalities whose gentle demeanour off the screen is neither well-known nor appreciated due to their powerful on-screen perception.
For instance, Satyajit Ray comes to visit her when she becomes sick during the shoot and tells her to take rest.
Or, the way Om Puri takes care while driving Neena Gupta while driving and how her closest friend, Soni Razdan and Mahesh Bhatt support her through her life’s tumultuous phases, convey to us that nothing is ever easy to break through when you make unconventional choices.
But as resilience is proved time and again, respect becomes the inevitable outcome.
Take, for instance, one of the sweetest fan-girl moments with Vinod Khanna, which has been shared with a dash of humour and sensitivity. So is the part where Neena Gupta candidly talks about Shakti Kapoor being one of the boys in her neighbourhood she had never met while living there.
Notably, Neena Gupta’s memoirs reach us at a time when the debate on Bollywood’s nepotism-ridden ecosystem has reached a crescendo and there is considerable buzz not only about the casting couch, among other things.
In a candid, tell-all style, the actress minces no words in exposing how Indians love to gossip about actors and their personal lives, not hesitating to believe the worst.
Through her memoirs, when it comes to the ground reality of the casting couch, the actress is open about the situations that she has tackled with her head held high.
However, as a reader, one may ask, whether a topic as serious as nepotism and the casting couch could have been more impactfully dealt with by an actor who is known to speak her mind so candidly.
Neena Gupta: Breaking stereotypes in real life
From breaking stereotypes to embracing her life’s journey as a single mother and dealing with issues that only a single mother is forced to face, such as working relentlessly to provide for a daughter and in the process not emotionally being available to her, Neena Gupta shares her life’s struggles with a perfect balance of candid insights and self-analysis.
Her love for her ‘beautiful child’ as she describes Masaba is one that every mother can connect to. Yet she explains why she talked her daughter out of making an attempt to enter Bollywood.
Neena Gupta’s pride in Masaba’s achievements is visible throughout the book. Like most working moms, Neena regrets that she hasn’t been available during her daughter’s childhood to give her emotional support. That her child has emerged with a stronger sense of identity and personality is what makes Neena Gupta’s tough journey so much more precious to her.
A single mother’s journey, she reminds us several times, is fraught with pain, distress and heart wrenching moments. But it also brings a joy that words fail to explain.
Honest and easy, conversational writing makes the book unputdownable and charming to read through at one go.
For an actor who has received 2 National awards and considerable critical acclaim, her writing is straight from the heart and does not brag.
For those who enjoy reading about films and cinema, this book is one that will make you smile and feel deeply about the life and struggles of actors who strive for excellence without compromising on their identity and values.
Overall, Neena Gupta’s writing is as charming and refreshing as her iconic personality.