Terrific Taapsee

‘Taapsee Pannu’ in conversation with ‘Divya Solgama’ [Source – Bollywood Times]

Taapsee Pannu’s action scenes were loved by everyone in ‘Baby’ and she is back with her story in ‘Naam Shabana’. Our Bollywood guide ‘G9 Divya Solgama’ had an exclusive privilege to speak to her regarding her latest film ‘Naam Shabana’, 

Taapsee, right since ‘Farz’ days we had many spy based films which were inspired from James Bond. But, this is for the first time we will get to see an out and out spy based film with a female protagonist. So, how was the experience of being the lady Bond and will we see you doing all those daredevil action scenes which you did in ‘Baby, in your latest film ‘Naam Shabana’?

Taapsee Pannu – James Bond without those fancy clothes. From the outside, it would appear that way, but we didn’t know about this when it was happening. For me, it was a huge role. There is no role big or small that is what ‘Baby’ proved for me. I gave whatever I could for those fifteen-twenty minutes. Never knew that ‘Naam Shabana’ would happen later. I guess the filmmaker noticed my hard work and gave me an entire film now. The audience, too, showed much love for my character in ‘Baby’ and this is why I have got ‘Naam Shabana’. Of course, we will have all the action, but that will just be one part of the film. There is more to ‘Naam Shabana’. The other successful films are just about how the spy completes the mission. This film is about how you spot a spy, what kind of tests that person goes through before he or she becomes a spy. There also has to be a reason why someone is a spy. Then you have to go through a certain kind of training. So, ‘Naam Shabana’ covers the entire making-of-a-spy aspect. This is something we haven’t seen before, at least in India. The film is a journey of how a normal person becomes a spy. Actually, there have been other girls who have tried their hand at action. It’s just that with ‘Naam Shabana’, I will have two films where I have done action compared to lot of others who would have probably done just one. I am happy that I am starting a genre for girls. I don’t have any qualms in being the female action star or whatever you can call it. I feel it’s a nice space to be in.

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Taapsee-PannufijiTaapsee, your film ‘Naam Shabana’ also has Akshay Kumar in a special role. So, how’s the whole feeling of doing more action scenes than Akshay, who is known for his action star image?

Taapsee Pannu – He was the producer, he asked for it. He was the one to set the stage for that. It was so kind of him to take a backseat. I think very shamelessly that his presence is what will help us take this film to the masses and he is probably aware of that. He comes at a very crucial point that just makes me feel that he has certain beliefs in the film and me portraying that character. So, I was just following my producer’s expectations about whatever I did in the film. Indian audience is ready for a female protagonist. Now, that’s up to you how you want to show them as a female central character. For me, to come in and as ‘Naam Shabana’, especially when it’s a part of a franchise and has big names attached to it, I don’t think I could have asked for a better central lead film to have. I feel I am very lucky to witness this change and be a part of it. Three-four years back, we would have 1-2 films in a year with a female lead and now we have 1-2 such films in a month. It’s a good welcome change that people are accepting it and are open to it. You need to help us project this films at par with other films which are so-called centric. It’s a collaborative effort that we all need to do.

Taapsee, you have learned many forms of martial arts for your latest film ‘Naam Shabana’. So, is that the reason for you to keep losing your weight and look lean?

Taapsee Pannu – Everyone keeps saying that I am almost starving myself which is totally wrong. You should see me doing lunch and having meals and you will be surprised. I am not an over workout freak. I don’t work out to lose weight anymore. I stopped doing that 4-5 years back. Instead, I work out to stay strong to work for 12 hours. To make myself active enough for 14-15 hours actually, I need to stay very fit and strong for which I work out. I have no restrictions in my diet. I don’t take any protein shakes. I have been an ardent sports fan. I play squash regularly and off late I started cardio and gym because I needed muscles to play the game I like.”

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Taapsee, despite of you being the main protagonist in ‘Naam Shabana’. Why is it that the female actors don’t get paid the same amount of money which is paid to a male actor?

Taapsee Pannu – I don’t have any problem with it because this is show business. At the end of the day, you will be only paid according to how much your film makes at the box office. How many people will walk into a theatre because it’s a Taapsee Pannu film? I should be paid according to that. That’s what I meant when I said it’s a collaborative effort. When female centric films are projected in a good way, people will walk in the theatres with that mind, increasing the box office numbers and then our pay cheques would be high. I can’t put burden on my producers and ask them to give me money equal as so and so hero. The day when the audience will walk in the theatres saying this is Deepika, Priyanka, Kangana or in this case my film, then that day I can ask my producers to give me the same amount as my male counterpart and that will be fair. For me, feminism is all about equal opportunities. I don’t want reservations. I don’t want to be pitied upon just because I am a female. I feel very awkward when people ask me how you feel being the female protagonist of a film. That’s a weird question to answer. I really wish that day arrives when I wouldn’t have to answer how it feels to be the hero of a film. That day, the feminism in me will win or be happy or come to rest. I would love that day when it comes to a time where we stop categorizing films as female-centric or women-centric. For me, being a hero or a heroine is not about gender. Even a female can be a hero. I don’t want to gender bias being a hero and that’s what I believe in.

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Taapsee, you have been part of many big regional films. There was a time when few of those filmmakers considered you as an ill luck or a jinx for their movie. Now, with back to back successful films, do you think the whole perception of these filmmakers must’ve changed?

Taapsee Pannu – I didn’t ask them if it has changed or not. But, I am hoping it has now considering my films are doing well. It has happened not here, but down the south. I just felt very sad about it. There are a lot of other girls also who go through that. There are a bunch of media people and industry people who called me that. Imagine a girl who comes from a Delhi family, who has never even heard the native language or been in that culture of the South. She decides to come down and give it all she has. I did all of that. It’s just that a couple of films didn’t do well, I was tagged as a reason to bring bad luck to the films. How devastating is it for a girl to hear that! It’s sad what people did to me. Today, I am in a position where I can voice these things and talk about it. People will listen to me so I used that platform to tell people to at least not do that to a girl ever because that destroys you from inside. Thankfully, I wasn’t someone who also wanted to be an actor. Imagine a girl who also wanted to be an actress and ends up hearing that she is a sheer bad luck…she is simply a superstition in the industry and not an actor! How devastated would that girl be in a different land? My advice is don’t do that because someday or the other the tables will turn and I am sure you wouldn’t want to be in that position.