Tamannaah Bhatia is all set to step into Kangana Ranaut’s shoes as she gets ready for the release of her upcoming film That Is Mahalakshmi. This is the Telugu remake of the Hindi film Queen. Along with the Telugu version, the film is also being remade in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. While shooting for the film in France in 2017, Tamannaah had a chat with indianexpress.com and spoke about the essence of the original film.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. This isn’t the first time that you are playing an iconic Bollywood character. You have already done Kanden Kadhalai (Jab We Met remake). So, how is it different this time?
I think my take on the way I perform has changed. I feel I have a responsibility to perform characters in a way that gives out a facet of me. And when I saw Queen I felt like, there is a Queen in every woman out there. And it was my turn to tap the Queen in me this time.
Q. What is that one thing you can relate to your character in Queen?
I have never been on a vacation alone. I think it is daunting and especially for the character that she is. For her, the factor of it being daunting is way more, but I think even if I want to travel alone one day, I would be a little alert. Because I have never traveled alone myself, I understand how before every step you take, you are a little careful. So yes, that was definitely one aspect that I largely relate to.
And also the fact that there is a girl like Queen in every Indian girl. Maybe the degree of it varies, but every girl has that Queen in her. My idea was to explore the Queen in myself.
Q. The remakes usually try to distance themselves from the original but here, that is not the case. Why so?
My idea of doing a remake whether it’s Queen or any other film is that if I am remaking a film, I have to keep the essence of the original. Otherwise, why am I remaking that film? I should just make a fresh film. There is a very strong sense of Queen that is going to be in the Telugu version. But at the same time, it’s not a rip-off, it’s a remake. So we do want to add our own perspective to it.
Q. You are pretty fluent in Telugu now. Did that help in getting into the character for Queen?
Definitely. For Queen especially, having some amount of command over the language did help. Because that was something that worked for the Hindi version as well. Like Kangana understanding the Delhi kind of Hindi. Also that little bit of Haryana influence, that really worked for her. So for me, as a Telugu film actor, I think it is very important to have a hang of the language.
Q. As a performer, you can easily pull off a dance number like “Swing Zara” and a film like Dharma Durai. So what is the kind of variety that you are looking at?
I think there is immense dignity in being glamourous. It takes a lot of work and effort to perform a glamourous character. It’s as difficult as doing a performance-oriented role. For me, I think diversity is something that I am really looking at because I want to do parts that let me explore myself in different ways. I think it becomes our responsibility to give people good content, content that takes them to another world and makes them forget their worries for a while.
I enjoy commercial movies but now is the time that I want to do something more. That is not satisfying me anymore so as an individual, I do seek something that I have not done before.
Q. Is there something that you are keen on doing?
I really want to do a dance film. I love dancing. I am not a professionally trained dancer, but I enjoy dancing so much that I think before I finish whatever I have to do on this planet, I have to do a dance film.
Q. There is a perception that we want to see fair heroines in films. What is your take on that?
Unfortunately, I don’t know why there is an obsession for fairness in India. I realise that being born a certain colour is not a choice, it’s just something that you are born with. For me, if I go back in time and see Baahubali or Devi, both are characters I had actually tanned myself for. I started my career with a Fair & Lovely ad commercial, but if you ask me now, I don’t endorse fairness creams. It (colour) does not define beauty in any way, and I find people obsessing over colour very silly.
Q. Has this kind of perception led to some judgement in your career?
Of course. If you are pretty in the very typical sense, sometimes people tend to typecast you. But I was very lucky in my career because filmmakers like Rajamouli sir never looked at that. He said become dusky, become a different colour and then put mud on yourself, and then go on screen. I really respect filmmakers who have such a strong vision and don’t take that bias, but a lot of people do.