I have never ever bothered about Ranbir’s girlfriends: Neetu Singh
Neetu Singh, 55, is today a lady of leisure with her set routine at home. She loves her children the most, Ridhima, two years more than Ranbir. Ahead of her upcoming film Besharam, where she has acted for the first time with both her husband and son, she talks to TOI about her sensitive father-in-law, her dominating husband and her caring son. Excerpts:
Let’s talk about your mother?
She died two years back and she was the closest person in my life. We had come to Mumbai to see a shooting when I was five, when I was offered a role. My dad was alive at that time and we shifted from Delhi to Mumbai. After my dad passed away, I became the sole bread earner and did a lot of movies as a child star. At 13, I got Yaadon Ki Baarat as the leading lady. They used to pad me, as I was not even fully developed. I was never a great actress, but was always happy and positive, so everything came out very naturally. I was obedient and would do whatever my mother asked me to do. I was extremely innocent. Once I was doing a romantic scene with Amitabh Bachchan and I had to say, ‘I love you.’ In between, he started laughing and said, ‘Do you even know the meaning of what you are saying?’ My husband (she calls him Bob) came into my life when I was just 15. So for me, it was just me, my mom and my boyfriend. My mom was so protective that I was not allowed to even go for coffee with my friends. Even if someone looked at me, she would bash him up. She was really dominating and people would get scared of her. She would get upset if my husband flirted with me. She told me, ‘You should not have affairs. If you go from one person to the other, he will also leave you and then you would again have to go to yet another. Your name will be spoilt and it will remain like that.’ That stayed in my mind. So whatever ups and downs I went through with my husband, I did not want to leave him and wanted to always hold on. Even as my boyfriend, we would have a lot of fights and he would not let me shoot post 8.30 pm. I used to be so scared that I would not even change and go and sit in the car to go home early. Even when we were dating, he remained a total flirt and would pretend he did not have other affairs when he was caught and always denied it. I knew that. But I was too innocent and if he said ‘nahi hai’ I would believe him. He knew in his mind that I was a simple person and felt yeh mujhe sambhal legi and that he could mould and dominate over me. I was oblivious of my star status and would even sit on the floor talking to junior artistes. I was not pretentious. He would write letters when I went outdoors and have it delivered to me by all his friends who were my co-stars. I would be teased and be considered his property. We were dating for five years. At 21, I had signed a lot of big movies and was at the peak of my career and had lost weight and that is when he got insecure. He would initially say, ‘I am going around with you, but will not get married to you. But then one day he asked me, ‘Don’t you want to get married?’ I said, ‘To whom? ‘He said ‘What do you think I am?’ I agreed. I had settled my mom financially and bought her a house. She did my wedding in a grand way and the whole of India was upset that Rishi Kapoor was getting married.
They never got along initially. I would be paranoid when they came together and knew there had to be fireworks. After marriage, they somehow managed. Look at my mother’s luck. Post marriage, we lived with my mother-in-law and she wanted to break the house to make it bigger. She moved out into a rented place, my father-in-law went to RK to live for those two years and I moved back into my mom’s house with my husband. We then built our current house at Pali Hill and moved out, but, by that time, my kids had got used to my mother and so she also moved in with us. So, I actually never left my mom till she died. I had seen my mother not giving me space, so when Riddhima got married I cut myself from her to give her the space I never got. My husband, of course, doesn’t understand that and would say, ‘Space kya hota hai?’
Let’s talk about your husband?
Over the years, I have learnt to just accept the way he is. I went through lots of emotional moments, but I don’t give up easily, be it my weight, my husband or my children. Ranbir always says if you want to get anything, tell mom, she will make it happen. Also, basically Bob is a nice man and then you want to make it happen. I am honest and always put my 100 % into anything I do. I don’t love my mother-in-law because she is my husband’s mother. I love her because I love her. I love my sister-in-law Reema because I love her. I can’t be fake. I give love and believe that you get what you give. Be it my in-laws or my kids or even my husband, who is so annoying. Even if I have gone to the loo, he will be insecure. That is why I am not working in movies as 24×7 he wants to see me sitting next to him. I am his only friend. If I was to go for outdoor shoots, he’d be dead. He is even more possessive now. Me and my sister-in-law Reema, who is my best friend, just take off for a holiday for a month whenever we feel like. While her husband will call her five times a day, my husband will not call as he is sulking. There is a way in which I have survived with him for 32 years. I give him a lot of rope for two months during which he will keep bugging me. In the third month, I will stop talking to him and that is the way I break his ego. It’s only after that I will tell him what had hurt me. My mother-in-law is adorable and will always joke and say, ‘In 32 years, you have spoken only for 16 years. So actually. you are married only for 16 years.’
Let’s talk about your father-in-law, Raj Kapoor?
He was the most knowledgeable and interesting person I have met in my life. We were like buddies and every evening, I would go and sit with him for an hour in his bedroom at Chembur, just him and me and he would talk to me about life and I would come out enriched. There was this one lady in our family, who would always humiliate me whenever I went to her to touch her feet. Everyone except him knew about that. He was in the hospital with all kinds of pipes on his body about to die when we went to see him at the hospital and this lady was also there. All through the journey back in the car with my husband, I had tears in my eyes. Just when we reached home, my mother-in-law called and said, ‘Don’t ever touch that lady’s feet again, papa ne bola hai.’ He had seen her misbehaving with me even in that state. He would see your emotion without you having to say it. That quality my Ranbir has.
Let’s talk about Ranbir?
He will see my face and say, ‘Mom, what is wrong with you?’ He is extremely sensitive and caring. Ranbir is simple at heart. Bob is good-hearted, a great actor but simple, no. Bob has the Kapoor arrogance that is not bad, but it is an attitude. But Ranbir’s nature is like mine. I call him yogi. He can read a person. I have never seen him excited in the house and he is always in this zen kind of state. He just wants to do his work and be good to everybody. He is my pillar and always makes things simple for me. He leaves goodness wherever he goes and I feel so happy when people tell me he is humble. He doesn’t like anybody talking rudely to the servants at home. Till today, he will not talk to my husband looking in his eyes. He will whisper and then I repeat it to Bob. When Bob would come home, he would go to his room and not interact with him. Ranbir has the same relation with Bob what Bob had with his father. Their relationship was so formal that Bob addressed his father as ‘Sir’. Ranbir was brattish as a child. But there was this one phase when he was 15, when I went through a lot of rebellion with my husband. It made me stronger, it changed my husband and made Ranbir the way he is.
Is it true that you control Ranbir vis-a-vis his girlfriends?
I have never ever bothered about his girlfriends. I used to get angry with a certain girlfriend when he was entering movies, as he would not sleep well. I knew from experience that an actor has to have good sleep to look fresh. But I have never told him who I like and who I don’t like. His girls are his life. He has to spend his life with her. She should love him and keep the family together. I remember how many times I have kept upvas and asked mannats from Santoshi Maa for my husband. Being in the film line, she needs to be strong and be there for him. I just want the right girl for my Ranbir and feel that satisfaction that she looks after him.