‘I was written off by everybody in the south’

With five releases in 2017, Taapsee Pannu can confidently claim to have ‘arrived’ in Bollywood. In an exclusive with CE, she talks about her films and the reason she had to switch from the south

Published: 01st February 2017 11:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2017 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Seven years after making her debut in a Telugu film, Taapsee Pannu continues to seek her own identity. Having worked extensively in the south, she has gone on to do films opposite some of the country’s biggest stars, including Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. But, she’s yet to realise stardom.

“Even today I’m considered a newcomer. People always refer to me as an ‘upcoming star’ or a ‘rising star’. I started out with films in the South, and just when I was slowly getting a foothold, I decided to switch to Hindi films, where I had to begin from scratch. So I’m still considered a newcomer. One day I just want to wake up and feel like a star,” Taapse shares.

In an exclusive with CE, Taapsee was brazenly honest, unbelievably grounded and extremely articulate in her thoughts and expressions.  Having done intense films such as Baby (2015) and Pink (2016), Taapsee will be doing a romantic-comedy in Amit Roy’s RunningShaadi.com. The film, interestingly, was shot before Baby and Pink, but wasn’t released earlier as the filmmakers felt that it might not be the right time to release it since both Amit and Taapsee were ‘newcomers’.

“In a way, it made sense because when you know you have the right product in your hands, you wouldn’t want to release it too soon. I owe a lot to this film because it was on the sets of RunningShaadi.com when Shoojit Sircar, who’s producing this film, saw an edit of my scene and decided to cast me as Meenal Arora for Pink. He did not know anything about me, but he took that decision based on what he saw,” she explains.

Taapsee admits that jumping into Hindi films after spending years in the south wasn’t easy. “Though Hindi is my native tongue, it was suddenly awkward to do a film in Hindi, as I was used to doing films in Tamil and Telugu. I had dubbed on my own for my films in the south, so to suddenly speak in Hindi felt a bit weird. But it was during RunningShaadi.com that I discovered my true potential, where I realised how much I can play with my language and nuances,” she observes.

Taapsee plays a Sardarni in the film, a role that she says is exactly how she’s in real life. Taapsee also says the film attempts to break stereotypes about the portrayal of Sardarnis and Delhi girls. “North Indian girls are often portrayed on screen in a very clichéd manner. Sardarnis and Delhi girls are always shown as loud, abusive and melodramatic. I’m a Delhi girl who hails from Punjab and believe me, we are not at all like how we are portrayed. So in this film, I made sure I stayed to my true self,” she explains, passionately.

RunningShaadi.com will clash with another film of hers — Ghazi, a trilingual. Though she has a short role, Ghazi is special to her.

“I play a Bangladeshi refugee in Ghazi. My role is more of a special appearance since it’s a war film based on the navy during the 1971 war.  There’s not much scope for women characters in such a setting. But it was a challenging role and I’m looking forward to see how people receive it,” she says.
After her stint in the recent films, Taapsee has been the go-to person to do intense roles on films dealing with serious subjects. The actor, however, wants to do a few lighter roles as well and is keen to show her versatility. “I don’t want to keep doing the same thing, just because they have been successful. I want to keep experimenting and pushing my barriers,” Taapsee expresses.

And while she’s busy with Hindi films, she says she hasn’t completely gone away from doing films in the south. She, however, admits that she wasn’t treated very well in the south by some during her stint here. “It’s funny, because when I was here, they had written me off and were extremely mean to me. And now that I’ve done a few films in Hindi, they ask me why I don’t do Telugu films anymore,” she quips.

Elaborating further, she says, “Some people had dubbed me as ‘bad luck’. They were quite mean and said I had ‘Iron Legs’. People in the south are extremely auspicious, and at the time, doing a film with me wasn’t so. It hurt because I worked hard, only to be treated so harshly.”
Despite facing such unpleasantness, Taapsee doesn’t hold any grudges and will be doing a Telugu film soon. “Telugu cinema made me a star overnight. It’s only fair that I give back. I need something more substantial and I don’t mind doing any film — big or small — as long as it offers better characters,” she says, with brazen honesty.

This year she will be seen in has Naam Shabaana (prequel to Baby) and Judwaa 2. “Hopefully I’ll finally be a star and not a ‘struggling newcomer’ anymore,”
she smiles.


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