Neha Dhupia Breaks Boundaries with International Film Debut in Blue 52

Neha Dhupia’s journey as a multifaceted entertainer sees her embracing the roles of a chat show host and producer with aplomb, yet she firmly places her identity as an actor at the fore. It is with a palpable sense of excitement that she steps onto the international stage in her debut film, Blue 52, directed by Egyptian filmmaker Ali El Arabi.

Within the narrative confines of Blue 52, Dhupia finds herself portraying the mother of a 22-year-old named Ashish. Set against the backdrop of Kerala and Qatar, the film tracks Ashish’s life as he grapples with a domineering father and a tender maternal figure while embarking on a journey to meet his sporting hero, Lionel Messi, during the buzz of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Dhupia reflects on this pivotal career moment with a beaming smile, “After all these years, I managed to get an international film. Maybe the time is right for me now.” The on-screen family dynamic is completed by actor Adil Hussain as her cinematic spouse, and Dhupia speaks highly of the experience, “I felt so liberated every day on that set. My look was different; it was exactly how I wanted to be cast for a long time. It didn’t happen in India for me. I’m hoping more filmmakers see the movie and think of me in different roles. Adil is such a wonderful actor and a great teacher. You feel cocooned in his company.”

Indeed, Blue 52 provided a creative oasis for Dhupia, offering an age-appropriate and substantive role that speaks to her talents. However, such roles are scarce, especially in her home country of India. The actress laments the industry’s challenge in casting female artists in their 40s, a sentiment born from personal experience, “I’ll be honest. It’s very hard to cast women in their 40s. We don’t want to play mums to old kids, and we aren’t getting cast as young women. I’m offered acting jobs, but the ones I want to do are few and far between.”

Not one to be pigeonholed, Dhupia’s creative spirit sees her branching out, with her production venture, No Filter Neha, transitioning from a podcast to video format for its latest season. The chat show turns the spotlight on the personal and professional lives of celebrities. She prides herself on the show’s ability to evolve with its guests, remarking on the candid stories that emerge, “You never run out of conversations. For instance, Vicky [Kaushal] wasn’t married when he came the first time, and now, he has a wife.”

One of the show’s most notable conversations involved actress Ananya Panday. Dhupia recalls Panday sharing valuable lessons from her time working with Deepika Padukone on the set of Gehraiyaan (2022). Particularly, Dhupia was struck by the acknowledgment that it’s acceptable to seek perfection, “She learnt how sometimes if your hair or dialogue delivery is not right, [one must] ask for a second take. I had never asked for what’s mine on set. But Ananya [noted that] as long as no one is being inconvenienced, it’s okay to ask. It’s a part of giving your 100 percent.”

As Dhupia continues to pace her career across varied mediums while simultaneously challenging industry norms around age and gender, her foray with Blue 52 stands as a testament to her tenacity. With an openness to diverse roles and a confidence honed through her multifarious engagements in entertainment, Dhupia’s path ahead promises an exciting blend of work that straddles borders and breaks convention.

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