Choosing them right

Choosing them right

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Tapsee Pannu

She has carved a niche for herself in Hindi cinema after being a big name in the South. Starting out in David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor, Taapsee Pannu has done Judwaa 2 with him as well. Judiciously opting to continue her career down South, albeit being choosy about the films she does, Tapsee has always chosen what she calls ‘good’ films even in Mumbai — Baby, Naam Shabana, Pink, and of course, the bi-lingual The Ghazi Attack.

A couple of inconsequential films here did go wrong, but then the law of averages has to catch up with human beings. She has just released the social film Mulk. She plays the defence lawyer of Rishi Kapoor. “In India, it is very common that an entire family is targeted when only one person is guilty. That is also when your own disown you. Mulk is such a story,” she says.

Taapsee’s last release was Soorma, in which she played a brief role, which was disappointing. “I take that as a compliment,” she laughs. “But believe me, my real counterpart in that biopic had even less of a role in the hockey player’s life. With some creative license, my role was extended,” she says, “Next time, when I am doing the central role in a biopic, I will make sure I am there from beginning to end.” She says that her game-plan, both in Mumbai and down South, is to be part of good films. “Like I was hardly there in The Ghazi Attack,” she points out. 

The going gets tough

So, how does it feel to be on the opposite side of the dock from Pink? “It was much more difficult. All these heavy punch-lines I had to speak were intimidating. The responsibility was very high, as these are lines that people will remember for long, if I say them well. The six-camera setup and a plethora of seasoned artistes — Rishi Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Rajat Kapoor — were also challenging. Except for Rishi-sir, the rest were all theatre actors, and they could memorise 13 to 14 pages of dialogues,” she says. “One false note and I would be nowhere, and I am not someone who checks what I have done on the monitor, so I don’t know how I have fared.”

Ashutosh Rana, says Taapsee, was the one who unwittingly stressed her out the most. “I think my Hindi is quite good, but when you hear the Hindi Ashutosh-sir speaks, you can get a complex. On top of that, most of my lines in court had to be spoken while looking at him, and his eyes look so piercing that on the first day of the shoot, I told him that it would be tough for me to face him as the prosecuting lawyer. And when I said that only his villainous roles in Sangharsh and Dushman were imprinted in my mind, he began to laugh.”

Co-star camaraderie

In Pink, she had Amitabh Bachchan, and now she has Rishi Kapoor. How would she compare them as co-stars? “Well, Rishi-sir is this hot-blooded Punjabi whose volume is always set high,” she says. “That is what can be intimidating for many, but if you catch his frequency, you can enjoy him. I did that on the first day itself, for I had already broken the ice with him in my first Hindi film Chashme Baddoor.”

How was her experience with writer-director Anubhav Sinha? “I have known Anubhav for quite a few years now,” she replies. “You can keep all his films on one side, and Mulk on another. He has never written or made such a raw, real film without grand songs and so on. But if you ask me, this is the real man behind this commercial filmmaker. This is how I have known him for years, as someone who always had strong social and political views.” Coming up for Taapsee is, besides a Telugu film on August 24, Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan opposite Abhishek Bachchan and Vicky Kaushal, which will be followed by another film with Amitabh, Badla, which is directed by Sujoy Ghosh and produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s banner. What is her screen equation with Amitabh in Badla? “The same as in Pink,” she quips, “he plays my lawyer.”

Finally, what does she have to say about the fact that she is still considered more of a South star than a Hindi film actor? “Arey yaar, just call me an actor,” she says.

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