“Family members of Indian soldiers need to be helped first before you start taking Badla on their behalf”, says TaapseePannu.
“Initially I was pitched for another role in Badla,” says TaapseePannu.
After Pink, the actress is again sharing her screen space with Megastar Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Badla’. In a recent conversation, Taapsee talks about the film, how different is the film from Spanish movie ContratiempoThe Invisible Guest, her character in the film, what role she was being offered earlier before signing the film, experience working with Big B again, Pulwama attacks, her view on banning Pakistani artists, forthcoming projects and much more.
You are reuniting with Amitabh Bachchan after PINK, so what was that different environment on the sets this time?
It was a Bong-set again! We had a Bengali director (Sujoy Ghosh) and Bengali DOP (Avik Mukhopadhyay) who was the same DOP for PINK. We also had a Bengali Sound Recordist, so most of the conversation on the sets was happening in Bengali and I was trying to figure out in learning some Bengali lingo now because it’s going to be handy in future. As a result, it didn’t feel like having a different feeling. In fact, I felt like having continuity after having a break in a schedule.
Just as your film’s title suggests, do you believe in Revenge?
It’s a human emotion that comes naturally and everyone wants to take it at some point of time. So, it’s better to accept the reality rather than taking revenge. However, we as a human being still take revenge but in different ways now. When I was a 10-year-old kid, I was taking revenge in some different way and now when I am in 30s, my ways of taking revenge is relatively different from what it was earlier.
Any fun experience you would like to share when took revenge in any point of your life?
It was during my school days. I was dating a boy and he broke-up with me by giving an excuse of board exams. I felt very bad during that time. However, after two-years he started flirting with me online. I got to know that he was already dating with some other girl during that time, and still was flirting with me. Now I decided to take revenge. I took the printout copy of our chat and sent it to the girl whom he was dating (laughs).
Your films like Mulk and Manmarziyaan didn’t go down well at the box-office to which they deserve or you expected from it. So any revenge you are planning to show against the audience with your upcoming movies?
Mulk was released in 800 screens, and so it performed according to its capacity. However, from many years our audience has watched typical films that forcefully created their mindset. It has been created in such a way only such type of films can be successful and only such type of formula can be applied to make a successful film. Now we all are trying to make a big change which will not happen overnight and will take time. But it all depends on what amount of strength you have to deliver such kind of different films to the audience. I have that strength as of now, so let’s see!
What was the change in the on-screen interaction with Amitabh Bachchan this time?
My characters from Pink and Badla are like chalk-and-cheesy. In Pink, Amitabh Bachchan’s character is like a god to my character who came in to save her and get justice, whereas in Badla, my character has hired him to save her. So now the equation is very different.She is no more that bechaari-type of character from PINK who thinks her life will be destroyed if she won’t get justice. Here in Badla, I am a very sharp businesswoman and self-made lady who run her own company in Scotland. She is not that type of girl where one can easily play with her life. And so, on-screen interaction changes with respect to that.
As compared with your contemporary actors, you are exceptional in your emotional scenes in films like PINK and Mulk, and now also seen in Badla. So do you feel that is your USP to shine from others?
I think I can connect with the average Indian audience and that is my USP actually. I am an average Indian person and so I choose that type of role and situations respectively. I don’t think I am an extraordinary person and so can connect easily with average Indian person. Further, if I feel the scene after reading the script, after that only I can make my audience feel. So I choose the script on the basis that if I am feeling every scene in it, and not forcefully making my audience to feel those scenes. If I am originally feeling it from inside then that type of confidence is there with me and my director that I can convey the same on-screen for the audience.
In the age of social media, people tend to reveal the spoilers. Do you think that’s the reason why people have almost stopped making thrillers in Bollywood?
Lot of people did raise this concern before making Badla.But the question is not who has done the murder, it’s actually how it was done. So I am not worried about spoilers!
Badla is an official adaptation of the 2017 Spanish movie Contratiempo The Invisible Guest. Have you watched the movie, and if yes, then what changes you feel Sujoy Ghosh has done in Badla?
He has filled-up a lot of loopholes from the Spanish movie. You will not feel like watching the same movie, because he has made it very relatable for our Indian audience. One will understand it better after watching it.
This time, were you intimated by Amitabh Bachchan?
I was not intimated last time also. Only on the first day of my shoot for PINK, I was quite intimated. However, then I realized to switch-off that button. And when I did that, it’s no looking back and not touched that button till now. However, I experienced a lot of problem on that first day, but after that its quite normal.
If compared with the Spanish movie, then the gender is changed of your character in Badla. So were you thrilled when it was at first offered you?
No, I asked for it. Initially I was pitched for another role, where to be precise the girlfriend’s part in Spanish movie.
So then how did you convince SujoyGhosh for the same?
When I was offered the film, nobody was logged on board, not even Sujoy. The producerSunirKhetarpal in fact pitched me for the girlfriend’s part. However, I agreed to do the film only on one condition, if I am offered to play the central character which is played by a man in Spanish movie. Sunir then told me that he will discuss with his team on this and will let me know. Later on he came back and agreed on my condition.
Do you feel that there’s so much more dimension now when the gender has been changed from a Spanish movie?
Yes definitely, because you can now play with so much different things after changing the gender. A Lot of thing change such as layer, approach towards other characters and so on. And so I said that you feel very much different from Spanish movie.
After giving now several successful films in Bollywood, do you still face any challenges as an outsider?
Yes, and that will remain till the very last day of my last movie. It’s an outsider syndrome that stays there. Half reason for this is because of our own mentality where we believe from inside that we are an outsider. The rest half comes from the other people that make us believe as an outsider. It’s a mixture of both the things and thus it remains with us.
So was that the reason for you getting replaced with BhumiPednekar from PatiPatniurWoh?
No, I don’t think so that was the reason. Honestly, I don’t know if that would be any reason of the same. I don’t know if that happened primarily because of being an outsider. I don’t know what happened and why it happened. But whatever happened was wrong, and I had to call it out.
After Judwaa 2, any plans to star in another mainstream film?
After Judwaa 2, the stream of mainstream is now changing. However, I am still waiting if someone approaches me for the same. I think there’s a huge long queue of girls who are waiting like me but are much better than me to play lead in such kind of films. As a result, someone really needs that foresight to cast me for such roles which David Dhawan had 2-years back because I am not the obvious choice for such kind of movies. Now someone needs to have that vision for not to play safe. And so if someone would have that vision, then I would surely love to do such films. It’s not like I cannot do becauseI have started my career in Bollywood with ‘ChashmeBaddoor’ that falls into such category. But like I said, girls who are really good in doing such kind of roles are too many and that’s why it’s a safer choice to take them probably. As a result, one really needs to have that kind of foresight to think something different and interesting after casting me in such films.
Do you feel that Kollywood and Tollywood had somewhere did not tap into your potential which Bollywood did?
That has been changed now. Earlier when I was doing films in South, then the languageover there was a big barrier for me. For instance, I have a control in Hindi language so people can offer me films with respect to that. But the same was not happening over there as I was not having that much control in South languages. Now the story is totally different, as they now approach me with some really interesting roles, because the language barrier is not there finally.
Amitabh Bachchan recently completed his 50-years in the film industry, and Badla will be his first movie after that. So what are your views?
I am just happy to be a small part of those 50-years. Not many actors get a chance to work with him twice in the present-day generation. So I feel extremely lucky with respect to that.
Badla is clashing with ‘Captain Marvel’, so what are your views on that?
I am a huge fan of X-Men and Avengers, but not of Captain Marvel. I don’t like her even before its release date was not announced. I still remember watching one glimpse of her, and said to my sister that the casting is wrong here. I they would have chosen me for Captain Marvel then everything would have been right (laughs). Though I said it in a fun way, but when later on found out that both the films are now clashing, then thought Badla is better than Captain Marvel. Even though I am a huge fan of Avengers, but still hoping that people don’t get to know about Captain Marvel (laughs). I am just happy that Iron Man is not releasing on that day, because then I will get confused to watch which movie first. I am a huge fan Robert Downey Jr., and so some sort of dharam-yudh could have start in my mind.
Going by your filmography, you have done almost all the genres. So what was that best compliment you got with respect to that? And which was the most challenging role for you?
I think now people have started noticing the choice of films that I am taking. As a result, such kind of compliments have now started coming up to me, especially from the people within the industry who doesn’t know me well. And the most challenging role for me is actually coming up in ‘Saand Ki Aankh’. I don’t know what I am going to do and how it will happen. Bhagwanbachayemereko (laughs).
Talking about Badla, what was challenging for you to accept your role in it?
The interesting part about my character or to be precise any character in such films is that every character has their own 3-4 layers. And so they usually keep their cardswith them only. But now nobody knows which character will show which card in front of others. So as an actor your transition from one layer to another becomes interesting. In Badla, one layer of one character will be seen at a time, and then seamlessly it will get change from one layer to another shade. As a result, this seamless transition is exciting for an actor that will be shown in every character of Badla.
After Pulwama attacks, there is a ban on Pakistani artists working in India. So what’s your take on that?
Actually I am concerned more about our soldiers who died in this attack and their respective family. Are people are aggressively taking care of this, just as they are aggressively taking action for revenge? People are taking revenge for soldiers but not doing anything for soldiers. I also tweeted the same by writing that it’s not in our hand as a person to take revenge, as higher authorities are appointed for that and they are doing their work. But to help the family of our soldiers is something in our hand, and we as a citizen should focus on that first. However, people bashed me when I posted the same on social-media. They said that I don’t want to fight and other things, but to be very practical it’s not in my hand. There are people who are assigned to do such type of job and they are doing it. Also, it’s a cycle. Our soldiers got killed in this attack, and now we will have a counter-attack, wherein people will die more. Again attacks will happen and again our and their people will die. It’s a cycle and we can’t do anything to stop it. What’s there in our hand is to help the family of our soldiers by any means. So my question is to those people who are banning artists that what they have done for our soldiers and their family members.
So do you feel that the association should take their decision back in banning Pakistani artists?
Whoever has the authority can definitely call it quit or take their decision back. It’s not like our Indian film industry will go out of business if Pakistani artists won’t work here and also if our Indian films won’t have a release in Pakistan. It’s not going to happen ever, but if banning Pakistani artists suits your peace of mind, then one can definitely do it. However my agenda is different where I am more concern about our soldiers who have lost their lives.
It’s been observed that few of our Indian artists have given some anti or pro statements in relation to Pulwama attacks and banning Pakistani artists. So what’s your take on that?
I don’t know what research they must have done from their side before giving such statements. As a result, I can’t comment on whether they were right or wrong. But like I said, my point of view is different. I am not even thinking what statements other actors are giving or who is banning who, because my only agenda is to help the family members of our soldiers who lost their life. I helped them on my behalf, to which I can’t show my bank transactions to each and every one, but at least can bring attention to the fact that those people need to be helped first before you start taking Badla on their behalf.
Are you open to doing web-series at this point in your career?
If I am being offered with something that I am not getting in mainstream cinema, considering the variety that I am already getting, then I will surely do it.
Have you been approached to be a part of any web-series?
Yes, I have indeed been approached, but still not got what I wanted which is different from the mainstream cinema.
Have you watched any web-series, and if yes, which are your favourite ones?
My detention span on a small-screen is very less. I have only watched one TV series, Homeland. I have watched all the seasons of it, where in fact completed one season of it in one whole weekend (Friday-Saturday-Sunday). However, then I realized that it’s very harmful (laughs).
Any one recent film which you have hoped to be in that?
I hoped to play Ranveer Singh’s role in Gully Boy.
What is important for you – Box-Office or Critical Acclaim?
What are your favourite Bollywood thriller movies?
I think we didn’t have any good murder-thriller in Bollywood from longer period of time.
What about Andhadhun?
It’s not a murder-thriller, but a dark-comedy type of film. However, it was surely a brilliant film.
Lastly, what’s coming up next after Badla?
After Badla, I will be seen in one South filmand then in two Hindi films ‘Mission Mangal’ and‘Saand Ki Aankh’.
You are seen doing at least one movie every year in South. Is this your conscious decision?
Yes, I do one film in South every year. After Badla, my south film, Game Over, is releasing. I am committed with myself to do at least one film in a year down South.