Taapsee Pannu is everywhere. She might have had a forgettable debuted in 2013 with Chashme Baddoor, but it was Akshay Kumar’s film Baby in 2015, which helped her make a successful impact on Bollywood. Today she has at least four films in her kitty, in the first half of 2017.
Taapsee, who closed 2016 with a stellar performance in Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Pink will soon be seen in Naam Shabana, The Ghazi Attack, Judwaa 2 and Runningshaadi.com.
The trailer of Naam Shabana was released online on February 10, and ever since, it has only been receiving the love of the audience. Naam Shabana is a spin-off to Baby and traces the story of Taapsee’s character until she joined the special task force that fought terrorists in the prequel.
In an exclusive conversation with IndianExpress.com, Taapsee spoke about reprising her role of Shabana Khan, and even shocked us by revealing that the prequel to Baby wasn’t planned at all. “When Baby happened, I was a back door entry in the film. I literally forced myself into the film. And post that, I guess, the response towards my character was so good, the audience didn’t expect me to do something like that. The response that my character received made the filmmakers plan an entire film based on Shabana aka Meera. Frankly, there was no sequel or prequel. This move shows how audience’s reaction can affect the filmmakers,” the actor said.
Unlike Baby, Naam Shabana is solely dependent on Taapsee, and yes, for a moment it did leave her stressed. “I started shooting for Naam Shabana two days after the release of Pink. So, it was back to back. I was getting bombarded with responses for Pink, and that was when I felt the pressure of holding a film on my shoulder. I shared it with my producer who in response said ‘we never took you because of Pink and we didn’t even know about the film. So, don’t take the pressure. You’ve done well in Baby and just be the same.’ With the kind of names attached with the project, I just blindly followed. I wasn’t worried or stressed after that,” Taapsee actor said.
While she could relate to Meenal from Pink, she doesn’t relate to Naam Shabana’s character at all. “Meenal Arora in Pink was relatable, in fact so is my character in my upcoming release Runningshaadi.com, but Naam Shabana is nothing like me. I had to literally ask my director how to react to certain situations. This character is quite apart,” she added.
Another film that’s closer to release is Runningshaadi.com. The film is being compared to Band Baaja Baaraat. But Taapsee has a smart answer for all the comparisons, “Every film which has wedding as the background will look similar because shaadi is mostly similar in major parts of our country. The affair is so big that we can pick any aspect and make a film about it. But Runningshaadi.com is extremely different. It doesn’t talk about wedding planning like Band Baaja Baraat or anything like Happy Bhag Jayegi. It’s about a startup that helps couples elope. It’s a beautiful love story.”
She regrets that she couldn’t help anyone to elope while her director and co-actor Amit Sadh and even producer, Shoojit Sircar have experience in this arena.
Speaking about her third release The Ghazi Attack, co-starring Baahubali actor Rana Daggubati, Taapsee said, “When I was offered Ghazi, they gave me a statutory warning that it would not be a woman centric movie, especially since females were not allowed in a submarine. I play a character who is layman and has been saved by these navy men. It’s important because audiences won’t understand the technicality of submarine. So, without a civilian point of view, viewers will be lost.”
Taapsee has a valid reason to be part of the film despite having a minor role, “I wanted to be a part of something revolutionary. It is a one-of-a-kind film in the history of Indian cinema. The film is a trilingual and so will see a wide release. The incident that it talks about is historical and no one knows about it. So, all these facts intrigued me,” she said.
Amid all the films she has signed, there were also rumours that Taapsee walked out of a Rajkummar Rao starrer. Putting a rest to such rumours, she said she hasn’t become such a big star as yet. “I’ve not reached a position where I can walk out of a film. People might see me as a careerist but I don’t have the guts to walk out. There are films we discussed and wanted to work on. But either the dates didn’t match or the producers could not get things together.”
Taapsee has worked across four film industries in India and finds it amusing that before her career picked up in Bollywood, she felt helpless in the South. “It’s funny that people appreciate me now, or have a positive opinion about me now but before if films weren’t working I was blamed. I was being tagged with superstitions and considered unlucky. For a girl, who made so much effort to learn a language, make a new family, own a culture and to dub in that language and getting to hear that she is ‘unlucky’ was not good enough. I’ve given 5 times more effort to South films rather than in Hindi. The kind of backlash I was getting was hurtful,” she said.
Not just that, Taapsee goes on to explain how post Pink, people have started considering her as a big star, who wouldn’t work with them anymore. “Like seriously! I was the one standing there and wanting to work with you but you wrote me off,” she quips.
Taapsee is however is also working on a Telegu movie. “The Telugu film I am currently working on was decided a year back. The director was ready to wait for me. That’s the kind of feeling I or any other actor wants. The feeling of being irreplaceable,” she concludes.