Like the fast moving consumer goods, Neha Mehta is a fast mover. For, in a field where it takes a few years to get started, Neha Mehta has achieved more than many of her contemporaries, and has done 30 ad campaigns, two feature films, one music video and three serials in just three years. Call it a roller-coaster ride or whatever, Neha is not only at the place where the action and arc lights are but she is also making the right career moves. "Things have happened pretty fast," gushes the pretty daughter of a senior army man and a school principal. "In fact, one things lead to another and then started happening simultaneously. It's been a fast journey so far."
Three years ago Neha was far away from the world of glitz, glamour and arc lights. She was in Delhi doing her graduation. Along with studies she found herself posing for magazine covers. Things were not supposed to go beyond that had Riya Sen not opted out of a campus caper called Kshitij. The film was to be shot in and around a campus in Delhi. At the eleventh hour Riya walked out of the film and the director started a hunt for a replace. Thus Neha walked in. The film ran into problems and finally got completed but is yet to see the light of the day. "I have no idea when it will get released," wonders Neha.
With one feature film under her belt she didn't find it too difficult to get heard and seen. "I think I was lucky. I gave a few auditions and soon I started doing ads," she smiles. Pond's, Emami, Breeze, FairGlow, Mother Dairy, Dabur, Godrej Eezee… you name them and she has done them all. Like the fast moving consumer products she has endorsed, Neha found her career taking off like FMCG products. Thanks to modelling she landed the lead role in a Telugu film Dhum opposite Jagapati Babu. "It was an average experience," she says matter-of-factly. "I missed the fun part because I couldn't understand the language. Since I didn't know what I was saying I couldn't involve myself completely."
After the not-so-great short sojourn in the South, Neha returned to modelling. TV was not on her list of priorities. "I wasn't open to TV at all," she recalls. Her eyes were set on the Hindi silver screen. But around that time Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand had taken a 20-year leap and Aruna Irani and Star Plus were looking for a pretty face to play Pammi's daughter Gungun.
"I was literally pressurised by the channel to play the role," laughs Neha whose next role was that of Dr Ayushaman's love interest, Dr Tani in Ayushaman. Meanwhile there were several offers for B-grade films. Call them skin flicks or whatever Neha gave them thumbs down. In fact, she was offered the lead role in Julie which was eventually done by Neha Dhupia and which also worked wonders for the 'item' girl's career.
"When I read the script I said no because I wouldn't have been comfortable shedding clothes and doing bold scenes," she says. She understands that minis and skimpy clothes are unavoidable. "So if one has to go with the trend then I might as well do it for a big banner film," she reasons.
"Big banners present their heroines well and their films are marketed and publicised very well." Till such an offer comes her way Neha is very comfortable doing television. "It's giving me good roles," says Neha who is playing the protagonist Mamta in the prime time daily soap of the same name on Zee. The serial that seems to be inspired by Lekh Tandon's offbeat film Doosri Dulhan has Neha playing a surrogate mother.
"It has a nice graph of a 18-year-old small town girl who eventually comes to a big city in search of her child," says Neha. Life is hectic and she does miss her home and parents some times. She however, doesn't feel lonely and that's because she has loads of relatives in Mumbai. "Besides there is so much work that I hardly get time for myself," she sums up.