‘How do I become an A-list artiste?’
... asks Taapsee, who doesn’t get why she’s not considered a top artiste despite her recent hits
Taapsee Pannu, who started out in Tamil with Aadukalam, and went on to make her mark in Bollywood with films like Pink, Naam Shabana and Judwaa 2, says she is yet to crack the code of being an ‘A-list’ artiste in the Hindi industry.
Though 2017 has not been a great year for Bollywood, Taapsee’s Naam Shabana was among the highest grossing female-centric films, and her Judwaa 2 has also done well at the box office.
Yet, Taapsee wonders why she isn’t counted as one among the ‘top’. “I am yet to find out the definition of being an A-list actress. What does that mean? See, as an actress, I am happy that people are offering me good roles and I am earning success critically and commercially. But it bothers me when a designer says, ‘No, Taapsee can’t be my muse or the showstopper. I want an ‘A-lister’ actress for this collection.’ It has happened with many brand endorsements as well,” she says. “I am ready to write the entrance exam to enter that club, but can someone please tell me the formula... Maybe awards? I do not know!”
Taapsee does not fear failure, given she’s had her fair share of exposure to films that didn’t do well at the box office. She still remembers her horrific early days in the Telugu film industry. “In the beginning of my career, some of my films failed at the box office and filmmakers stopped casting me because they were worried I’d bring bad luck to their film. The funny thing is in those films, my contribution was nothing but three songs and five scenes.”
Having seen failure in the South, she says she knows that success cannot be planned. “It’s not about our desire to perform in a great story. At the end of the day, the box office results matter. And the weird thing is that we do not know the formula for that.”
She says she has been “really lucky” to have worked in commercial potboilers as well as content-driven films. “I think it is the responsibility of an actor to find that balance, because the film industry is ready to give you a tag in no time,” she says.
Taapsee’s most popular portrayals are those of women with a fighter instinct. Was it a calculated choice to do women-centric films? “Actually, no. Maybe because I have a natural fighter instinct that filmmakers have noticed, they offered me roles in films like Baby or Naam Shabana. I am an outspoken person in real life.”
She says she also has not figured out why people feel that women playing ornamental roles in films do not require ‘artistic skill’. “Who said that looking good is not a task? There are so many girls with a well-maintained body, but will they be able to walk the beachside in front of the camera wearing a swimsuit? Carrying your body in a certain manner to look sexy is also an art. So, we should respect such a performance just like we appreciate de-glam, realistic performances.”
Taapsee has started shooting for Anubhav Sinha’s new directorial venture, Mulk, which also features Rishi Kapoor, Rajat Kapoor, Neena Gupta and Prateik Babbar.