Neena Kurup on cooking, movies and other flavours of life

Neena Kurup with her daughter Pavithra

Actress Neena Kurup loves living her life on her terms. She has been entertaining both the mini screen and the silver screen audiences for the past three decades. When asked about the secret of her radiant smile and infectious energy Neena says, “There isn’t any secret. I take life very easily and that must be the reason why others feel my energy.” Neena gets candid to Manorama Online about how she feels about cooking and also about her latest movies.

“I really don’t like cooking. I can do the dishes, wash the clothes and clean the house. But I hate cooking. But, if I have to cook, then I cook amazingly. I don’t like hearing bad comments about the food that I cook. So, I try to cook as amazing as possible. I will not try cooking dishes that I don’t know, just to impress others,” admits Neena.

Neena and her daughter Pavithra are not foodies. So, they rarely eat outside. The duo prefers having simple dishes like dosa or rice with just a mezhukkupuratty (vegetable stir fry), fried fish and curd. On some days, Pavithra likes to have only pickle and curd with rice. So, Neena doesn’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen whenever she is at home. “I was invited to a few cooking reality shows saying that they would teach me the recipes. I am not interested in acting like that because those who know me know that I am not being truthful. I am only beginning to learn and understand many things in cooking. It was only during the lockdown period that I even understood that drumstick tree has flowers too. I made a stir fry using drumstick leaves and eggs. There are lots of breadfruits in our backyard. We made curry using that. We are not particularly drawn to non-vegetarian food. However, if there is sambar and chicken curry, then we would be eating the chicken dish. 

Everything lies in the flavour. They are like happiness. Just like happiness comes from within us, any dish could be tasty if the ingredients are beautifully blended using our fingers,” says Neena.

Sumithra of Women’s Day

Neena doesn’t like to call Women’s Day a short film; she prefers calling it a feature film that is 16 minutes long. It has been shot by covering lots of events and emotions. “We have worked really hard for it. Though the thread of the film is lockdown, it got developed into a women based subject. Tom had sent me a message saying that he was interested in working with me on a short film. I too got interested after listening to the story. We spoke for almost an hour, after reading the script. Though we hadn’t seen each other before, we soon became closer. I was in that comfort zone when I reached the location. We wrapped up the filming a few days before Women’s Day. There is no perfect day than the Women’s Day to share a subject like this,” notes Neena.

The perfect wife

A husband usually expects his wife to be obedient in our society. However in Neena’s opinion, it is not because he doesn’t love her, but society has trained the man to be like that. “Even the women allow such mentalities to a certain extent. Now, everyone speaks about equality. But, women often forget that they too have their likes and preferences. They willingly keep their preferences aside for others. Being obedient to a partner is alright, but it should be mutual. You could obey anyone who understands you and advise you wisely,” Neena says.

Right to love and hate

Neena insists that she should be able to relate to the characters that come her way. “I had no doubts about the character called Sumithra. There are lots of women, including me, who could relate to that character. My husband is short-tempered. He gets angry swiftly. He used to get angry even for the smallest things when we were a newly wedded couple. I was very scared then. We do not like it when someone shouts at us. These days, husband and wife are like friends. I too had tried to be friendly with him, but it didn’t work out,” says the actress. 

Neena thinks that men enjoy freedom in 99% of things. However, women do not have freedom even in 30% of matters. “Even today, there are women who have no freedom at all. Some women don’t even own a mobile phone. They are responsible for that. Though they wish to enjoy more freedom, they do not try for it. Sumithra too says the same to her daughter that life is all about adjusting. Films like this should be made to point out that life is not always about adjustments and everyone has the right to like or not like or do or refrain from doing anything,” Neena says.

Long lost dreams 

Neena has been in the entertainment industry for the last 34 years. Sreedharante Onnam Thirumurivu which was released in 1987 was her first movie. She then took a break to complete her studies. Neena confesses that films weren’t her real passion. “I tried acting just for fun. My aim had always been to become an air hostess. However, I made a career in movies, serials and advertisements. I then took another break just to relax at home. I got married while I was acting in Punjabi House. I took some time off after that movie. Later, I did a reality show and did some anchoring too. I really enjoy anchoring. Now, I have taken a break from the serials to do more movies. I have no plans to take breaks anymore, but I still love to relax at home,” laughs Neena.

Upcoming projects

Neena is awaiting the release of around twelve movies that she had shot before the lockdown was announced. “My job is to act and I do it as good as I can. I wouldn’t say no to a movie just because I am there in only two scenes. I have never insisted that I would only do certain kind of roles,” Neena signs off.

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