PORTRAYING WOMEN characters with multiple dark layers is what draws actor Tabu because they give her, what she calls, the space to explore “the depth of their frailty”.
Speaking about her craft at the Express Adda Tuesday, Tabu said: “You didn’t want to play these women and what stood out about these characters was that they were not aspirational. But that’s exactly what drew me to them. I wanted to be those characters. I did not find anything wrong in those women, as I was not judging them, may be that is why I could portray them and understand the depth of their frailty.”
According to Tabu, Indian cinema has always had female-centric characters but it’s only now that women actors have gained the courage to take on layered characters.
“I agree that leading ladies are getting to do layered characters. But they (women-centric films) have always been there — you had a ‘Mother India’, ‘Seeta aur Geeta’, ‘Chaalbaaz’, ‘Raat aur Din’. Women have definitely played much more than eye-candies, but now the difference is that leading ladies are much more courageous to take on layered characters. Also, society is changing, we know that women should not have one-dimensional lives or personalities. So, in that way, it’s also fashionable to have layered characters for women,” she said.
Having straddled mainstream and new-age cinema with ease over a 25-year career, Tabu said she enjoyed “wearing good clothes and running around in Switzerland”, but also wanted to do roles that would allow her to interpret characters her way.
The two-time national award-winner said she didn’t come from a time when working on characters was an intellectual process — all they focused was on delivering dialogues and emoting well. “Acting is such a collaborative job, you can think of something in a certain way, but the director or co-star would have a different view or the set would be different from what you had imagined it,” she said.
Asked what she would focus on if she were to turn director, Tabu said, “The changing value systems, the way we are in relationships, there is a huge shift… and in human consciousness, and it’s always very interesting and sometimes it can be disturbing, reassuring.”
In an age when an artist’s relationship with freedom of expression is the subject of debate, Tabu said there was no formula for great art. “Sometimes it comes out of pain, sometimes it comes out of joy, or out of freedom or love. Creativity and art is such a deep field that there is no formula but whenever we express, whether artists or not, we will always express what we are experiencing,” she said.
Asked about the one thing she would want changed in Indian cinema, Tabu said, “The noise around it is bigger than what is actually happening. I wish we could do away with some of that at least. Of course, there has to be noise because we are in such a profession, but there has to be a balance.”
At the Adda, Tabu was in conversation with The Indian Express’s Deputy Editor Seema Chishti.
Guests at the event in the past include the Dalai Lama, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, filmmaker Karan Johar, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, writer Amitav Ghosh, journalist and author Mark Tully and cricketer Virat Kohli.