“I am not a big star that audience will flock to theaters with my name”, says Taapsee Pannu, who believes in relying on content to pull the attention of the viewers towards her work.
For Taapsee’s films, be it Naam Shabana, Pink, Mulk or her latest release Badla word-of-mouth has played a crucial role in making them a success.
And the actor says the positive response from the audience has made her a confident performer.
“I am a person about whom people are slowly trying to form an image through my films. I am slowly trying to gain confidence of the audience. The day it will be achieved then I can expect that my films will make noise before the release too. (For now) I have to rely on the content. I do feel due to the word-of-mouth, my films tend to penetrate more,” Taapsee told PTI in an interview.
Citing example of Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla, the 31-year-old actor added, “(No matter) How much I speak, there is a strict limit up to which my word would travel. Also the film is a suspense thriller and considering the genre, there is not much I could say about the film. We all had to wait and watch how it was received.”
According to Taapsee, the audience has been warming up to female-centric films and it is a good time to be a Bollywood heroine.
“In a male protagonist film, the hero matters more. With a female protagonist film, content matters slightly more. They (audience) are giving us a chance. For female-centric films, they will go to the theaters on the basis of the trailer, while with the men, it is about who is the hero.
“The way things are changing, let’s hope a film with a heroine opens at the same level as one with a male protagonist one,” she said.
Taapsee Pannu said she consciously decided to challenge the stereotype of a ‘mastermind’ by not being over dramatic or playing the victim card in Badla, which features her alongside megastar Amitabh Bachchan.
In the film, she plays Naina Sethi, a businesswoman, who is found locked in a room with a dead body, a lot of money and her hands stained with blood. Bachchan plays her lawyer Badal Gupta.
She has credited the writing and the tight script of Badla for her performance.
Taapsee said she even had discussions with Sujoy Ghosh about how her character graph should move — from being a stranger to the murder mystery to playing a victim card and at one point even emerge as a strong person — only to find herself getting trapped.
“Sujoy and I worked on the graph like how my body language and expressions will change. I barely have dialogues in the film. I am sitting across the table and Mr Bachchan is doing most of the talking.”
The actor believes the dialogues helped her modulate and keep the audience hooked.
“Mr Bachchan has most of the lines and has nice dialogues. I am being the manipulator, so I was not going to talk more.”
In real life, Taapsee said she is more expressive than her part in the film and it was a challenge to hold back herself.
“I could have been dramatic, giving cunning looks or showing the victim look but Naina is strong and she is not going to give her expressions easily. I am a very expressive person and I talk in dramatic way, which I had to control.
“I felt doing too much might make it a cliched character as you expect the mastermind to give a certain look. I did not want to do it that way, I wanted to keep it real,” she said.
Badla, produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and Azure Entertainment, has cruised past the Rs 65-crore mark since its release on March 8.
The film, an official adaptation of 2017 Spanish film The Invisible Guest, was offered to the actor when she was shooting for David Dhawan’s Judwaa 2.
The key change between The Invisible Guest and Badla is that the genders of the murder accused and the lawyer have been flipped. In the original, Spanish actor Mario Casas plays the murder accused.