Taapsee Pannu: I am fearless because I don’t have a surname to protect

During the ‘Women in Lead’ session held at IFFI, Taapsee opened up about her unexpected land in cinema.
Written By Abhivyakti Seshanand | Updated: November 25, 2019 10:07 IST
Taapsee Pannu: I am fearless because I don’t have a surname to protect

Taapsee Pannu began by talking about her background. “I was the geeky, nerdy frontbencher. After college, I got a corporate offer through campus placement, but I wanted to pursue an MBA. I am a drama queen in real life, but I had no connection to dramatics ever. In fact, during my college days, I was part of the dance troupe and used to have huge fights with the dramatics club over the rehearsal space. I would laugh at them for being so over-enthusiastic about drama, which I didn’t think much of back then. But eventually, I started modeling just for pocket money, and somehow the cinema followed.” Taapsee said she realized this was her career path only after the release of her first film.
She began with commercial films and moved on to unconventional roles. When asked if this was a conscious decision, she said, “My first Hindi film was Chashme Badoor, a commercial potboiler, an appropriate launchpad for a girl from South to get into Bollywood. And who would say ‘no’ to a David Dhawan film? I wouldn’t, not even today. Then I thought what next? I realized that there were already a lot of girls, who were really good at these commercial potboilers. And they were all being backed or recommended by someone or the other. So, I realized that it was too crowded space here. I didn’t think I could get an edge over them, because these girls were drop-dead gorgeous and doing a swell job. Plus, I had no one backing me. So, I had to find a new path and create my own space.”
The actress also has a three-point checklist to accept offered roles. “When I hear a script, the first thing I think is if I would spend my hard-earned money and time to go and watch it. Secondly, I think if I will be able to make an impact on the narrative. I would want the audience to take my character back home with them. I am not concerned about my screen-time. If the audience remembers me after coming out of the theatre, I am happy. The third one is a little filmy. I really want my kids to be proud of my filmography.”
Taapsee also finds it easier to make daring choices since she does not have a family surname to protect. “I don’t get scared because I don’t have a surname to protect. I am not answerable to a family legacy. That’s why I say that I have an edge being an outsider. I am here because I am having fun. And till the time I am having fun, I will do everything that the world tells me I can’t do. The day I get bored or get similar offers, I will happily and gracefully step down and do something else in life. For me, films are not the be-all and end-all of my life.”
Coming from the South industry to Bollywood, a question was if she ever planned on going back. “At no point have I ever used the South industry as a stepping stone to Bollywood. It would be very stupid of me to leave that market just because Hindi is perceived to be pan-India. The South film industry taught me a lot and I have an immense sense of gratitude towards that industry. With the kind of highs and lows I saw there, from making a successful Tamil debut to being called a bad luck charm or the iron leg after four of my Telugu films bombed, it was hurtful and I learned a lot. The journey toughened me up for Bollywood.”
The actress signed off by expressing love for Robert Downey Jr. “I want to be an Indian superhero in The Avengers. That’s my dream role. I love X-Men and The Avengers and love Robert Downey Jr to the extent that I will happily play the Iron Man suit,” she concluded.