Taapsee Pannu has had growth like very few actresses in the Hindi film industry. The actress started in the south, but after a lot of hard work and perseverance, has made it big in Bollywood as well. Films like ‘Baby’, ‘Pink’, ‘Judwaa 2’, ‘Manmarziyaan’, ‘Badla’ and ‘Game Over’ have ensured that she has cemented her position and how. And now she is all geared up for her next, ‘Mission Mangal’, alongside a big star cast. In conversation with IWMBuzz, Taapsee bares her heart about her journey, her character, Kangana Ranaut and her sister, and a lot more. Read on to find out.
Taapsee, we are always blown away by your script choices. What do you think when you sign a movie and read the script? How do you understand that it will be a hit? Any strategy?
See, I do films so that they become a hit, otherwise, why would I want to do a film. I select a film based on whether I would want to give money and 3 hours of my time to the movie. But yeah, it’s just that when I hear a script, I judge it based on the audience’s perspective. Also, I think whether I can show my filmography to my future kids or not (chuckles).
You have computer engineering as a part of your education. So in this process, did it help?
Yes, it helped. Because a lot of words, theorems and all were already known and familiar, so I didn’t have to struggle or memorize to do things.
So did others ask you to explain it for them?
No, to be honest, they didn’t; but still I used to show off and tell it to them (laughs). But I don’t think they were too interested to hear it.
When did you think you reached the position where you could make choices?
I think things started changing for me after ‘Pink.’ It was after that that people believed that I can also act and work. When people in the industry feel that the audience is now ready to see this particular ‘face’ quite often, that’s when an actor is in a position to choose. Otherwise not.
Do you get negative advice regarding not to do things when you select commercially viable movies like ‘Judwaa 2’?
Ya ya, of course. I get advised all the time. I will tell you one recent advice that I got. It was like, “Taapsee, you should now do a dhinchaak film’, and then make an appearance in a special song in a big film. But I believe in ‘Suno sabki, karo khudki.” So now you have the answer.
Taapsee, after you complete a character, how much time do you take to detox yourself?
Aaah. That’s always difficult. I think about 70-80% gets removed but the rest does remain with you forever and changes something about you.
Taapsee, do you think we overburden female actors with high and intense role expectations?
To be honest, I never looked at it as a burden. Somewhere down the line, I want my audience to expect from me, because there are very few actors from whom the audience expect something. So I want and like that expectation bit, to be honest, and I don’t look at it as a burden.
Taapsee, you have always been vocal about objectification in the south. Here in Bolywood, there’s a section that criticizes item songs, saying it objectifies women, whereas when a new item song comes which is a hit, the same people are appreciative of the content. How do you look at it?
Well, it definitely helps you to understand the double standards present in the industry and it definitely helps us judge the face behind the ‘mask’.
Taapsee, what is more important for you – Box Office or critical acclaim?
Box Office (Blushes)
In 2017 and 2018, you did 5 films each and in 2019, you are doing 6. Does it get tiring?
I am very inspired by Akshay Kumar. He is always like ‘2 films kyun karne hai? 5 5 karo.’ He is quite inspiring for me. The only Indian actor to be in the Forbes list. I work a lot because I am very greedy for good scripts. I cannot let good scripts get out of my hand. Simple. I have a problem. Because I have worked hard a lot, where if I say yes to a good script, I know it will happen to me. My management is going bonkers regarding how to manage all of them in 365 days.
How do you actually say that you don’t feel like a ‘star’?
The day I actually get a secure box office opening, I will then feel like a star. I am sometimes made to feel like a star, but then when I see my box office collections, I hold my horses once again. But I am genuinely looking forward to calling myself a star.
Taapsee, sometimes it also happens that the box office numbers are good but the film content is bad. What about that?
I think box office collections should be judged based on profit margin. If a film is made in a budget of 150 crores and it collects 160 crores, it can’t really be called a hit. Whereas if there’s a movie of a budget of 40 crores and it collects even 75-80 crores, it is a box office success. The margin is more important than the number.
Who are the women in Bollywood whom you would call a star?
Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan are ‘stars’ for me.
Do you think social media is also enhancing your image as a star?
Of course. Yes, I do feel social media enhances an actor’s image.
What do you have to say about Rangoli Chandel and her insulting comments about you?
See, some people don’t matter to me. If it doesn’t matter to me, why shall I bother to actually respond? I will spend my time and effort on someone when it matters to me. Otherwise no. I also know how to give answers. But there’s a certain vocabulary to which I can never stoop down to. I just can’t.
Taapsee, you are a human being as well. Is there any negative element that hurts you?
It depends on what time it has come to me. But I remember once, during the ‘Manmarziyaan’ release, I had replied to a series of tweets where my character was smoking and my character and religion was questioned. At that moment, I was a little vulnerable as it was my film and I had given everything to it. But otherwise, it’s pretty normal for me always. That became way too personal for me.
Lastly, you are playing Shooter Dadi in ‘Saand Ki Aankh’. Usually actresses want to play a glamorous role but you are doing the other way round. Share a bit on that please?
I was actually searching for a two-heroine film. But I didn’t know that it is a ‘two dadi’ film. (Laughs) But after hearing the script, I loved it so much that I had to do it. Now, fingers crossed. Hopefully, everyone will like the film and my role.