Born on June 20, 1984, in Patna, Bihar, Neetu Chandra started modelling, before entering Bollywood. Neetu started her career in Bollywood with the Priyadarshan movie Garam Masala. She then featured in films like Traffic Signal, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Rann, and worked with filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma, Madhur Bhandarkar and Dibakar Banerjee, to name a few. (All photos/Neetu Chandra's official Instagram account)
Very few know that Neetu Chandra holds two Dan black belts in Taekwondo and represented India in the 1997 World Taekwondo Championships in Hong Kong.
In the last few years, she has not appeared in many films. Neetu Chandra's last Hindi film was Kucch Luv Jaisaa, that released in 2011. Asked what went wrong in her career, she says there are not many offers that came her way and in her personal life, she went through a tough time. "I lost my father four years ago. He was suffering from cancer. So in a way, I was also focusing on my family. I have a production house and one of our productions 'Mithila Makhaan' even won a National Award. I have done a Greek film. So yes, I am working towards quality stuff, but unfortunately, not a lot of offers came my way the way I wanted it to be," she said.
Neetu Chandra further added, "I surely deserve to be in a Shah Rukh Khan- or a Salman Khan-starrer film. But my talent has not been utilised in the cinema properly. Since I do not come from a film family and have no Godfather, of course, my journey is slow but steady."
Neetu Chandra has done a lot of Tamil and Telugu films. In fact, she has appeared in over 15 films down south, so far. Neetu feels the Bollywood world is under a wrong impression that she has shifted to the south Indian film industry. "I have done some Tamil films and people started thinking that I have settled in the south. It is wrong. I know visibility matters in today's time, especially the way the business of cinema is changing. Earlier, I had no team to present me, to make my work visible to the film fraternity. Thankfully, now I have one. I am open to work with any filmmaker, anywhere - be it Bollywood or Hollywood. I just hope the offers come my way," said the actress, whose mother tongue is Bhojpuri.
Neetu Chandra also tried her hands at production. In 2011, she produced Deswa - Bhojpuri film - which was directed by her brother Nitin Chandra. The film went to eight international film festivals. It was the first Bhojpuri film to be selected in Indian Paranoma in 50 years in Goa.
"I produced that film, but trust me guys there is no market for that film. I have not been able to release it because for Bhojpuri it becomes a high class and for Hindi, it is very low budget," Neetu Chandra said.
Neetu Chandra, however, said her production house will continue making Hindi films based out of Bihar until a market is created for good Bhojpuri cinema. "Bhojpuri is my mother tongue. I am proud of it. I wanted to change the face of Bhojpuri cinema because I can't connect (with it). I don't think I can produce another Bhojpuri film till the time we create a market there, but my production house is making Hindi films where the stories are going to be from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar," said Neetu.
In 2013, Neetu Chandra made her stage debut with the theatrical adaptation of 'Umrao Jaan'. She had once revealed that not too many actors show interest in theatre because they cannot make a living out of it.
Talking about theatre, Neetu Chandra said, "I think money has overshadowed theatre in our country. Not just theatre but a lot of professions for that matter because we view everything from a commercial perspective. You can be in theatre out of passion, but can't make a living out of it because cinema pays much more."
Neetu Chandra says theatre expects actors to step out of their comfort zone. "We don't have many film actors in theatre because they are used to a certain kind of an affluent lifestyle. Theatre also requires a lot of hard work and time. It requires one to come out of his or her comfort zone. So are we ready to do it and what cost? I was paid Rs.500 each show and Rs.1,000 for a houseful show of 'Umrao Jaan'. I didn't mind because I have done 18 films and money hasn't been a problem... I'm happy doing theatre," she added.
In 2016, Neetu Chandra was part of the UN initiative 'Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality' at an event held in New York. The actress-producer discussed several issues related to women's rights at the UN Women headquarters. In fact, after sharing the stage with representatives from across the globe, Neetu was keen to play a new role as a women's rights activist.
Neetu Chandra seeks inspiration from actors Freida Pinto and Priyanka Chopra, who have carved a niche in international platforms. Freida earned fame with Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, while Priyanka Chopra has established a good place as an actor internationally.
Neetu Chandra talks about her hobbies! She said, "I gave a lot of time to my Kathak training in the past couple of years. Dance is a very spiritual thing for me. Plus, I practise my martial arts. It is very important to have a life beyond films to stay in perspective."
Here's wishing a very happy birthday to Neetu Chandra!
It's actress Neetu Chandra's birthday today. We take a look at the actress' journey so far in the filmdom!
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