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Published: Verve Magazine, February 2014, Luxe Select
Photograph by Toranj Kavyon

Actor and former Miss India, Neha Dhupia is a grounded celebrity. She carries herself with grace, works hard at her chosen profession and embodies a strong sense of self-worth, making her one of The Rose Code’s ambassadors of style and substance


I’m a very stable person. When my head packs up, my body takes over; when my body packs up, my mind takes over.”

She’s confident, sorted and self-assured. Neha Dhupia has no qualms about speaking her mind, knows what she wants and comes across as balanced. The actor is in a good place right now with three films up for release before the summer: Ungli produced by Karan Johar (releasing next month), Viacom’s Santa Banta and Nautanki Film’s 21 Topo Ki Salaami, which she is currently shooting for.

She was all set to be an IAS officer – she had just chosen her subject – when a call from her uncle changed her path. He asked if she would be interested in trying out for the Miss India pageant. She missed the cut-off date that year, but kept an eye out for it the next. “When the other hopeful girls were starving to stay thin, I was having a ham-and-cheese multigrain club sandwich. Then I got selected, I won (2002) and things changed! I never thought I would last so many years.” She’s “had the pancake on for a long time”, been an actor in the Indian film industry for a decade, done theatre, modelling and the pageant before that. “The job that I do is most unstable and unforgiving. A bad photo is published more than a good one. But it’s also rewarding. I maintain a huge amount of stability in my head and heart. I’ve been in the tunnel and can always see the light.”

She counts her milestones in all her experiences, the first of everything achieved – getting on stage, walking the ramp, facing the camera, having a film release, running for the first time; and finding that life often comes a full circle. She’s been associated with charitable projects along the way – she’s run the Mumbai Marathon for the Concern India Foundation, she’s helped raise money for the Sikkim earthquake victims and for the last five years she has been a spokesperson for Shiksha, a philanthropic venture by Procter & Gamble.

Running is something very close to her heart. She ran the 2014 Marathon last month for a cause as important as any: herself. “I find my sense of spirituality in running. I never start or end my day without a run, even when I am travelling. Being in the industry you want to get away, to clear and relax your mind, not have it ticking like a time bomb. Running, to me, has almost become a religion. It’s a higher state of being. It balances me, personally and professionally. Being single, even on days that I lack companionship, running provides me that.”

Neha Dhupia, a previous cover girl for Verve’s Best Dressed issue, likes to dress “for the occasion and the weather,” always choosing to wear something that gets her personality out. Very certain about what she likes and what will suit her, she laughs and dismisses it saying, “It’s just clothes after all.” She treasures her grandmother’s pearl-and-gold bracelet, that she never wears because she’s afraid of losing it, and remains inspired by her own success and failure all at once, while believing that success is entirely relative.