TAAPSEE: I PLAY STRONG WOMEN CHARACTERS
In a recent interview, Taapsee Pannu talks about her growth as a powerhouse female performer, also disclosing what’s in the bag as we set ourselves to embrace a new year.
After five years in the Hindi film industry, Taapsee Pannu has become an actress to reckon with. With Mulk, Soorma and Manmarziyaan adding to her reputation as a powerhouse performer, she is well on her way up the ladder of excellence.
Many actors who came to Bollywood from the South film industries have never returned to that industry after achieving success here. You have simultaneously been a part of both industries – was this a strategy?
There are multiple reasons for this. I am very grateful because I began my career there. It's my way of showing gratitude, not forgetting them just because Hindi films have started working for me. I have never looked at the industry as a stepping stone. It was all very organic with no plan. I am just making use of the opportunities I receive.
In addition, I have no reason to uproot myself from that industry because they still like me and watch my films. It is always good to stay in touch with people who already like you because that helps you and your films. My Hindi films end up getting a good release in the South. Eventually, it helps everyone.
You have not been consistent with the spacing of your film releases. In some years, you have had just one release and this year, you had so many.
It has been growing and that's what matters. It was not really planned. Of course, when I began, I didn't really have many options or choices. I just chose from whatever was available to me. That's why there were few films and, now that I have better options to choose from, I end up choosing more and more films. Next year too, I hope to have three to four releases. If you look at my films in 2018, you will see why I could not turn down any of them. I don't want to let go of good opportunities.
After doing a couple of content-driven roles, what made you choose an out-and-out commercial film like Judwaa 2?
I wanted to tell people to watch the other films that I do. Our masses love films like Judwaa 2 and that's why those films end up making 100 crore. I keep saying in all my interviews that if you make my other films earn 100 crore, I wouldn't do films like Judwaa 2. I wouldn't have to. I need to attract the audience who probably don't watch my other films, to give those films a chance. That's why I need to keep changing gears and attracting different types of audiences.
As you said, you are associated with a particular kind of role. As an actor, is there any fear of getting typecast?
That was, again, another reason to do Judwaa 2 – so that people don't typecast me. This is why, in the same year, I had Soorma, Mulk and Manmarziyaan, all different genres and characters. Even now, when I am getting offers, the only way I am typecast is that all my roles have a strong spine. That's the only typecasting that I am okay with. All the films I am doing belong to different genres and I have different roles to play. The only common thing is that I play really strong female characters.
We have seen you in so many films with very diverse characters. Have you ever stopped to pat yourself on the back for doing so well?
Not yet (laughs)! I had tweeted, 'It's okay if it's not perfect, at least you know you need to work on something'. I am okay with things not being perfect. At least I have something to work on rather than sitting idle. Otherwise, you would feel that this is perfect, so now what next?
Since you simultaneously work in Bollywood and the South industry, what differences do you see between these industries?
I have always said that apart from the language differences, I have never felt a huge difference between both industries. Of course, since I am a North Indian girl, I am more comfortable with Hindi. No matter how much I learn Telugu or Tamil, I can never sound like a local girl from there. I can't really help that. That might restrict my options or the variety of roles I will be offered there but that is a personal restriction. Otherwise, as an industry, I haven't really seen much of a difference because they make movies on a comparably equal scale, their collections are as big as Hindi films, the production values are equally good and they have some brilliant ideas as well.
It is so funny, when I am here, people keep telling me that the South has brilliant ideas and concepts. And when I am doing a film in the South and I tell them about the films I have done here, they say, 'They are coming up with such interesting ideas, Hindi is really pushing it…' I hear the same comments from both sides (laughs).
Your fans and audiences identify you as the girl-next-door. Why is that?
Because I am the girl-next door. I keep insisting that I am a very average, Indian girl. There is probably nothing diva-ish about me. The only aspirational factor that I have is the fact that I am normal and it's okay to be normal. It is okay to be average. In today's day and age, we have all experienced that it is difficult to accept being average.
Everyone wants to be a little different, have an edge over others or want to be out-of-the-box. Normalcy is underrated. For me, believing I am very normal and the regular, girl-next-door helps me build an image for the roles I do. Hence, my audience also relates to me. I am happy with my image among my viewers.
You appear to be the kind of person who comes to work and, after the release of the film, goes back. You have a life beyond your films. How do you manage to stay detached?
Honestly, it's a task because then you lose out on being in the buzz. You lose out on making friends who you can pick up and call and say, 'Hey I want to do that film. Can you please make that happen for me?' But, thankfully, that's why I end up doing four-five films a year so that my work keeps me in the buzz. That's a means to make up for it.
I choose to stay detached because it helps me stay normal and away from any kind of illusion. I have a life beyond films, which helps me grow as a human being. Also, eventually you are going to portray those real characters on screen. If I am not real in real life, how will I portray those characters? I like to live a normal life so I can feel like a normal person. I keep myself busy beyond films. I have a wedding planning company, I have now bought a badminton team in the Premier Badminton League. I do all these things which interest me personally and also help me grow as a human being.
Movies are my job. So, yes as you said, I go, do my work and come back, just like having a job. I love my job and am ready to work 24 hours for it, because this is what I love. But it does not mean that I have to be breathing films, day in and day out, till my last breath. The day I stop enjoying it, my films will not work, because if you are not enjoying it, your audience is not going to enjoy watching you. That's when I would need to gracefully step aside.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to?
More good films. I don't know if I will be able to keep up doing four to five films a year but I am hoping to do my best. Four films will come next year including a South film that I do every year. I have Badla coming up on March 8, 2019, which is International Women's Day. Finally, I have a film on Women's Day. I have been waiting for a film to release around that time and it is really special that Badla is releasing on this date. It is with Amitabh Bachchan and it's Sujoy Ghosh's film. His films have female characters to reckon with.
And, I have my South film, which I am currently shooting for. It is going to be a bilingual film, in Tamil and Telugu, and again it has a female protagonist. After that, I have another Hindi film which I will start by February, people will hear the announcement soon.
Then there is one more film which I am about to sign, and that will also release next year. So, there is a lot of stuff there, all of them will be of different genres, different roles but, yes, the one thing in common is that I will play strong woman characters with a spine.