'Was never conventional'

Andhadhun’s success added a new genre onto Tabu’s map and now she is sharing the screen with Ishaan Khatter for BBC One’s A Suitable Boy, adapted from Vikram Seth’s novel of the same name and directed by Mira Nair as a mini-series

Actor Tabu is all set to explore the web platform with 'A Suitable Boy' adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by Mira Nair and produced by Lookout Point. The cast of the six-part BBC One drama is led by Ishaan Khatter and Tabu alongside Tanya Maniktala in the central role of Lata. It is definitely a TV series to look forward to. The shooting for the series has been going on in full swing for the last few months in Uttar Pradesh and Tabu put up a social media post to announce the wrap of the series recently. Khatter plays the character of a politician's son, Maan, who falls in love with a courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu). Tabu recently shared an interesting picture with her director and the team on her social media. Actors Ram Kapoor, Namit Das, Rasika Dugal, Mikhail Sen, Danesh Razvi and Mahira Kakkar will also be seen playing important characters in the film. After a promotional event in Kolkata last week, Tabu spoke to Millennium Post about her new project and all that is 'happening' in her life.

How is it different to act for a web-project as compared to one for television or cinema?

I don't think it has made any difference in my acting style. Though I cannot talk much about the project - there is a clause I cannot talk much about it. Acting-wise it is not different. It is no different for me as it is a film unit. We are working on it, the way we do a film. At least I have not felt that there is any difference for me. Rather it is the narrative which is different. It is the writing which is different. I go to the sets and do my job. The way the characters have been etched out in the writing is different, that is what I feel.

'Andhadhun has changed a lot of things, for the crew and the cast. How has your experience with this change been?

(Heaves a long sigh with a naughty smile) There has been a string of offers to do only thrillers, where I am killing people. Definitely, thrillers have found a place on the map. I don't know whether it is because of Andhadhun or not but yes, a new space has been created for these kinds of films, filmmaking and storytelling. There has definitely been a spurt of subjects like these. It's been great because we are still enjoying the success of Andhadhun. Even after more than a year of the release, we are till doing so.

That is quite a big thing to take away from a film!

It does not feel like it has been a year, it has actually been one year and two months to be exact and the film has just released in Japan, so that is another window the film is still exploring! The journey of Andhadhun and my journey with the film is still ongoing. And I am very happy that it has been this way.

Moving on to your chemistry with younger actors, especially unconventional ones like Ayushmann Khurana. Do you think this opens up the way for less conventional newcomers and script opportunities?

It definitely opens up opportunities for scripts and storytelling that is going to be different from regular Bollywood fare. Scripts and subjects are going to be different. So automatically, there is a lot of more new kind of roles that require actors like me. Actors are always going to be proportionate to scripts that are being written and films that are being made. I don't think there is anything conventional about anything anymore. At least, I don't think I have ever belonged to that box where anything has been conventional. The way people have perceived me, the roles I have done, the films that have come to me, none of them have ever been conventional. There is no set defined protagonist or antagonist in most of my films. And I think that was the beauty about Andhadhun. There is no good, there is no bad. Everybody is good, everybody is bad. Also, I think it is the beauty of the writing and the filmmaker.

Do you think filmmakers nowadays are delving deeper into the human psyche, in terms of characterisation?

Yes, definitely. And that is the more interesting part. That is what has always attracted me as an actor. That is why I always ended up choosing characters that have a life and a personality and a voice and a mind! And not just like a cardboard figure. It was good that when I was getting these characters to play, I could understand what they were feeling and thinking or whether they were thinking or not at all! It is important to know that also, whether she thinks and does not think! Whether she has an ideology or not? What does she feel at this point? And the fact that filmmakers are underlining that aspect for actors is amazing! Because that is where actors, as creative people, feel utilised and satisfied!

In 2003, you did the sequel to Satyajit Ray's Aryaner Din Ratri titled Abar Aranya by Goutam Ghosh in which you had a pivotal role. Why did you decide to be a part of this project?

I did the film for the love of the Bengali language. I had a condition with Goutamda (Goutam Ghosh). I will do the film Goutamda but you have to allow me to do my own dubbing. I was doing 'Abar Aranye' for the love of the language. It would have been an exercise in futility if I acted in a Bangla film and did not speak in Bangla and could not hear myself speak in Bangla. So I practised a lot and it took me quite a few days. My thanks to Goutamda for having the patience to allow me to dub in Bangla.

Over the years, you have declined participation in certain film projects. How do you go about making this decisions?

When I am approached for a role, I think on the lines of characterisation. I am like, these are the (other) characters in the film and this is my character. Then I ask myself, do I want to do that role or not and decide. I have worked in every genre of films with amazing characters, interesting characters and more importantly characters which are integral to the story. Every film is of equal importance to me as an actor. My journey to play a character would be the same whether I do a Tamil film, a Telugu film or any other film.

How do you react when a film bombs at the box office? How does it affect you?

However hard I try, I will never be able to understand why the audience doesn't like a particular film. Once the film is released, you realise you are just not in control. It is out of your system. It is in the hands of the audience.

What is it that you love about Kolkata?

I love nolen gur and mishit doi. They are the only reasons, I keep coming back. The cultural scene in Kolkata keeps bringing filmmakers here; they always keep doing something interesting which keeps bringing me back. I love the way the city has maintained a difference with other cities in India. That is unique about Kolkata.

You are very active on Instagram...

I love photographs and the memories that are etched in the moment the photo was taken. So that is why I like Instagram. Every picture has a different story. I am not on it all the time but whenever I want to, I can go online and keep myself updated. That works for me!

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