An actress by chance

Down south

An actress by chance

She had set her sights on a career in the IT industry while pursuing a lucrative vocation as a model. Her modelling stints however ensured that she caught the attention of talent scouts and soon Tapsee Pannu, a Punjabi girl, found herself facing the cameras for the Telugu film Jhummandi Naadam directed by one of the most renowned auteurs in the industry, Raghavendra Rao. Telugu was akin to Greek or Latin for the Sikh lass, but then the role of a pampered rich NRI, who comes down to India to research Telugu music, was hardly taxing.

As Tapsee confesses, she did the film just to try her luck in the movie business. However, an industry which always has a dearth of young, lissome actresses soon cottoned on to her and offers started pouring in. The vivacious actress soon made her way to the Tamil film industry as well and struck gold straightaway. She did not have a major role in the Vetrimaran directed Aadukalam with Dhanush in the lead, but her captivating beauty helped her score as an Anglo Indian girl who the hero woos. The film, which won several National Awards that year, did wonders for Tapsee’s career.

In the five years that she has been part of the film industry, Tapsee has firmly etched her footprints as a multi-lingual star having been part of films in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam, though she has just acted in one Malayalam film Doubles with superstar Mammootty. After acting with Manoj Manchu in her debut film, she went on to pair with his brother Vishnu in Vastadu Naa Raju. Never fussy about doing cameo roles or sharing screen space with other heroines, Tapsee managed to land films like the Prabhas starrer Mr Perfect and the Ajith Kumar-Nayanthara starrer Tamil film Aarambham.

Going strong

Tapsee could well have been stereotyped by the industry though she is just a few films old, as most directors have been keen to cash in on her glamour quotient. The actress, however, has never been game for an unabashed display of her physical assets and in a glamour-driven industry like Tollywood, this could have cost her a few roles. But Telugu cinema has not let her down and she has found opportunity to act alongside top heroes like Ravi Teja in Veera and in the Krishna Vamsi-helmed Mogudu where the villain-turned-hero Gopichand was her co-star. Tapsee, however, has had her share of flops as well and films including the Tamil venture Vanthaan Vendraan and the Telugu films Gundello Godan, Daruvo and Shadow did little to further her career.

This year, the actress has been a part of Tamil films like Kanchana 2 and the Aishwarya Dhanush-directed Vai Raja Vai where she had a small role. Kanchana 2, directed by Raghava Lawrence, is one film that Tapsee might not forget in a hurry. Initially, Tapsee was reluctant to be a part of the film as she always had a morbid fear of ghosts and in a bid to avoid being cast, she kept the director on tenterhooks for quite a while. But a persistent Lawrence got her to sign on the dotted line. Tapsee, who played a regular woman in the first half of the film, turns into an avenging angel in the second half after a spirit enters her body. The film enabled her to prove that she could also emote well and convincingly portray intense roles.

Onward to Bollywood

Having more or less become a known face down south, Tapsee, like every other newcomer, yearned for openings in Bollywood and the first offer that came her way was Chashme Baddoor, a remake of the hit 1981 comedy directed by Sai Paranjape. With stars like Siddharth and veteran Rishi Kapoor for company, the actress made quite an impression. The film, however, faltered at the box-office and Tapsee had to wait till the Akshay Kumar-starrer Baby came along.

Tapsee was cast as an undercover agent in the film. The success of Baby has brought in its wake a couple of films including the Shoojit Sircar-directed Agra Ka Daabra, where she will match strides with Ayushmaan Khurrana. While she is still weighing offers from Telugu filmmakers, Tapsee will be seen in Selvaraghavan’s still untitled film and there is a Thiru-directed film on the cards as well. Tapsee is keen to work with major directors like Mani Ratnam, but she now has to insist on well-fleshed-out roles that can help her play a long innings on celluloid.

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