As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, then a fighter pilot, and then later, as I grew up, I was focused on scoring high marks, so that I could do an MBA in marketing,” says Taapsee Pannu. The 29-year-old had never considered a career in acting. It happened only because some of her modelling photos caught the attention of filmmakers in the south. As she promotes her upcoming film Runningshaadi.com, Pannu maintains that she is not going to be “acting till her last breath”. And even as she’s riding high on the success of Pink, she says, “I want more from my life than acting.” Excerpts from an interview with Pannu:
What makes Runningshaadi.com so special for you?
It was during the making of Running shaadi.com that I fell in love with my profession. Back when I was doing more Tamil and Telugu films, I did Chashme Baddoor, and I realised what it was like to speak my own language, Hindi, before the camera. And with Runningshaadi.com, I understood how much I can do with language and its nuances and use my body language to its full potential.
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Tell us about your character Nimmi.
I’m a Jat Sikh, who grew up in Delhi. But my grandparents are from Punjab and much of my extended family is there. I drew on what I know about them for this film, since I wanted to keep it as real as possible. I don’t play the typical Punjabi girl who abuses and wears loud clothes and is always angry for some reason. I wanted a lot of freedom to interpret the character in my own way, and I think that is probably why I was chosen for this film. Shoojit da (Sircar) saw the footage of Runningshaadi.com, which is why he chose me for Pink.
Your other upcoming release is The Ghazi Attack. Tell us about that?
That is a special appearance. It was made clear from the beginning and when the filmmakers approached me, they knew that I would only do full-fledged roles. But I chose to do this film, because it’s the first of its kind in India. And even though the role is small, it isn’t a blink-and-miss role, since I play a Bangladeshi refugee and the film is set in 1971, when Bangladesh got independence.
How much has life changed since Pink?
My own world, with all the people that I’m close to, hasn’t changed much, but the world outside has started taking me more seriously. I say the same things now that I used to say before, but now they hear me. They think of me as an actor who can perform. I’m very fascinated by this, because for most of my life my struggle has been to make people see me as someone who is not just a pretty face. The sad thing is that in our films, people believe you are “acting” only if you are shedding tears on screen or doing big, dramatic scenes. They don’t realise that simply acting normal before the camera is in itself a big challenge. People think that unless you become the de-glam girl, who has horrible things happening to her, you’re not really acting; all it takes to cry for the camera is some glycerine. Not doing anything is what’s difficult; I know a lot of actors who will agree with me.
Do you now have a list of dos and don’ts for the kinds of films you wish to do?
I didn’t have a list of dos and don’ts when I started acting, but one thing was very clear that I would only work in films which I would enjoy watching. So I will do all genres, I will do intense roles, along with the kind of films that I have grown up watching, like Biwi No. 1 and Judwaa. But I won’t do films where if you take me out of the script, nothing changes.