THE RELENTLESS - TAAPSEE PANNU
Man's World|May 2020
With a filmography that has only set the wonder woman standards of narratives and stories, actor Taapsee Pannu goes into details of her journey, one that’s made of a ladder with every step taking her a notch higher, and about quarantine with a routine
SAMREEN TUNGEKAR

When you look at Amrita, the calm woman, sitting through her divorce negotiations in a room where her husband who had slapped her is trying to prove that she’s manic in Thappad, do you go back to think about the young, shy girl who made her Bollywood debut with three other actors, in a David Dhawan film called Chashme Badoor? It’s been quite a climb, and quite the path — as Bollywood always is — even when an actor, who is 10 films old in the South, joins the bandwagon but isn’t a part of any of their camps. She came, she set up her own camp, and she thrives.

A lot of what Pannu brings on screens reflects in her instincts, in her choices. And if you have been noticed for your performance in a film when the actor talking to you on screen is Amitabh Bachchan, you clearly are making the right choices. But what was the idea behind making a debut with a David Dhawan film when this is the calibre you possess, I wonder out loud to her on the phone, as we start this interview. “I stopped making plans long before because I realised whatever plans I make never happen. So there was no strategy behind the kind of film I wanted to debut with. I did get a few offers before, but I didn’t know the directors...I knew who David Sir was. I have grown up watching his films, and he’s one of the few directors who has his own audience. I wanted to do his film because he has his own audience, and it was a new experience for him too, to work with such a young crop of actors. It became a very tempting opportunity for me,” she says.

Pannu wants to do films that have an audience, she adds. “When I look back, I think it was the right decision to start with a film that has an audience, and then do a Baby and a Pink because if I had entered with Baby or Pink, I’d have been tagged as an ‘offbeat’ actress. The fact that I could do a commercial film and then do one that’s a little different shows that I can do both mainstream cinema and content-driven films,” she logically points out.

Her career graph, when it comes to the narrative or the character she brings to life, has only touched newer heights. The complexity and childlike innocence of Rumi in Manmarziyaan, the poker face Naina in Badla, or the fiercely feminist Minal in Pink, is it a conscious process to pick films with substance? Pannu believes that the substantial part is not just her process, it’s the subject driven films that are getting better. “When even one film that’s content-driven works, 10 such films spring up. When I started out, there were very few such roles. But slowly, it has gone up. I did not plan so far ahead. It was only after Pink that I got a kind of direction that this is the zone for me, where people expect me to do something substantial. People already have actresses who are so good with singing, dancing, looking glamorous, they had their aspirational models. Why fight in that crowded space? I decided to be the actor that the audience looks at and feels like they can relate to. That’s the direction I picked up and after that, it was about listening to a script from an audience’s point of view and thinking, ‘will I go watch this film?’”

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