How I became a Big Girl, thanks mum and dad!

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I’m on the road promoting my new show #NoFilterNeha for Saavn TV. As I wrap up my interview for today, I cannot help but think of the two people without whom none of this would be possible. Thank you, mom and dad, I’m certain that without the pair of you, I’d never be the person I am now.

 

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When I think back to how the concept of #NoFilterNeha came about, I know fate had a hand to play. I was standing outside Indigo waiting for my car, and I bumped into the Saavn team, Gaurav Wadhwa and Rishi Malhotra. We were standing about waiting on our cars and chatting, and they said, “You’re really funny, you’re so funny that you should have an audio show of your own.” Within 12 hours of that first meeting, I was pitching a show to Saavn, and they said Yes!

It almost feels like it happened naturally, but it would not have if it weren’t for the work ethic you taught me, Dad. You taught me to be a person to wastes no time when there’s opportunity to be had. “Go out, Neha. Be independent.” These are your words that have carried me through so many terrible and terrific moments in life and the film industry. You’ve taught me to make the most of whatever is available to me, and even when there is nothing, you’ve taught me real fighters create opportunities. #NoFilterNeha, a show that may have came to me by chance, but I had the tenacity and discipline to see it to fruition only because you taught me the value of hard work. I submerged myself in the making of this show; I drowned myself in it. You taught me there is no room for half-ass trying in life.

Being on an audio show is something that’s alien to me. As an actor, I’ve always thought it was my face that sells. Here are some lovely people at Saavn who are willing to gamble on my wit as well. Humor, dad, that I developed while trying to amuse you. A skill I developed because it is what you most enjoy about my company. When Saavn asked me to co-produce the audio show #NoFilterNeha, it seemed correct. You’re the one who taught me not to filter my thoughts for the benefit of others.When I started Big Girl Production, there was a fear in my belly I’d never known before. I’ve always been a part of the content production as an actor. To be a producer, one needs balls of steel because it is another game altogether.

Whenever life has pulled me down, whenever strangers pigeonholed me as one thing or another, during all the highs and disappointments, you have been there. “Keep your chin up, Neha,” you say. And it works every time. Ma, you’re the woman of steel. I want to thank you for making me just as unbreakable.

My first production is out now on Saavn app, and over 20,000 people have heard it, and for this I am grateful. But, mom and dad, I’m happiest that you were the first two people to listen to the show. I’m overjoyed you heard it thrice in one day. And, I have no words for the overwhelming satisfaction I get that the two people who matter most to me in the world are proud of me. How we put together #NoFilterNeha, Dad!

 

You’d be proud of me for the friends I’ve made along with the way. The help I received from my friends — who are but family by choice —  has overwhelmed me with happiness.  I’d call Karan Johar to vent out my first-time producer’s anxiety rants, and he would ask me to “Just Breath and give it two hours.” I right talked Gaurav Kapur‘s ear off after every shoot, and he patiently listened and even promoted the show for me.

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Ranbir Kapoor, busy and shooting all across the globe as he is, still made an effort to come for his segment within the 10 hours he was actually in Mumbai.

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Many of my guests were long-time friends. I’ve known Chetan Bhagat since college, coming on to speak with me.  Arjun Kapoor is also a dear friend. But, talking to these guys on air was also nerve-wrecking. They’re so much fun, it soon became truly #NoFilter on our set! Even Anurag Kashyap, whom we asked about a secret that he said was hardly ever willingly discussed by him  — that he skills (or lack there of) at cricket — gave delightfully open responses. They say women seek out their fathers in male companions and friends. Dad, thanks for being the kind of man who taught me to find supportive, good friends.

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I cold-called Sonam Kapoor and Kanaga Ranaut, whom of both I knew but not as well as the others. They were gracious enough to support the show! What’s more everyone — including the stars’ friends and family whom we called for research honoured me by trusting me enough to being so candid as they were. Sonam’s brother read out her texts to us so we could ask her about them during the show, and she was totally surprised but never used to answer any question.

We discussed a lot of things in #NoFilterNeha. I was nervous when we started shooting for the show. My first interview was, after all, THE Karan Johar.

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and you know he don’t mince no words!

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To take a small production company with a small product and make it colossal is a tough job. Being a producer is probably the hardest job I have ever had to do. To be a producer is to be the money counter, the agony aunt, the boss, and the friend all at the same time. Thank you for bringing me up humble, and teaching me to go about the world in a respectful way. Without those life lessons, I’m not sure if Big Girl could have been born.The other day, while shooting for #NoFilterNeha, I saw a bottle of water that was half empty lying on set. “Guys, this is wastage,” I told my crew, just like you would’ve said to me, Ma. I’m passing on a lesson in good upbringing thanks to you!

There are other people I need to thank as well — the Saavn team, my Big Girl team including writer Mansi Jain, who helped me conceptualise #NoFilter Neha. And also, last but never least, my childhood best friend Pallavi Singh who is my family too.  My need to acknowledge those who have worked with me, for me, and helped me through life comes from you, mom and dad. You’ve taught me to respect everyone around me but at the same time, to be a go-getter, and never to lose hope. These are the qualities I’ll always apply to my life. There’s too much value for everything, and there’s no place for unreasonable demands, there never was.

Today, Bollywood says Neha Dhupia is a grounded, no-frills actress. I hope that makes you happy because you taught me to be always humble, even when I was a kid without anything, in particular, to be proud of. You always treated me like an adult; you always allowed me freedom and respected my thoughts and views on matters.

You always called me a Big Girl, and now here I am, all grown up and taking the next big step in my career. I want you to know that when time came to name my company, I thought of you. I’m a big girl now, mum and dad. I hope you’re proud.

Neha Dhupia
Written by

Neha Dhupia is an Indian actress and beauty queen who has worked in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam language films. She was India's candidate for Miss India 2002 and made it to the top 10 at Miss World. Neha is the owner of Big Girl Productions, and her first product #NoFilterNeha, in collaboration with Saavn, is out now on the Saavn app. She was born in Kochi, Kerala to a Sikh family. Her mum is a homemaker and her dad is a former Indian Navy Commander. She enjoys living life to the max, going after what she wants, and promoting a #NoFilterNeha approach to life!

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