I learnt from my mistakes and have now started making better choices: Taapsee Pannu
The Manmarziyaan actor talks about the ups and downs in her career and how she is choosing her future projects
In an industry where even star children find it challenging to get a firm foothold, the ‘outsider’ Taapsee Pannu has established herself as a formidable artiste. This year has been an eventful one for the 31-year-old actor with three of her films being big hits at the box office. From Soorma, a sports biopic, and Mulk, a social drama, to Manmarziyaan, a love story, the actor played distinct roles with perfection, delivering impressive performances.
It has been eight years in the film industry with 30 films since her debut with the Telugu hit Jhummandi Nadam (2010), and the Delhi-born actor who is currently working on her next film Badla, has come a long way. “I knew nothing about my job when I started. I was aware and I was quite open about this fact. I learnt from my mistakes and have now started making better choices. I really wanted to do all the films that I have done in the last two years. It’s been a gradual growth but it has been in the right direction,” says the actor referring to her 2017 films like Naam Shabana, The Ghazi Attack, Judwaa 2 and this year’s releases that garnered good numbers at the box office.
Manmarziyaan, her latest film in which the actor plays Rumi, a carefree Punjabi girl who is caught in a love triangle, has been appreciated by fans and critics. Her role particularly has earned her compliments even by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, who sent her a handwritten congratulatory note.
Rumi’s character is quite unlike the actor’s roles in earlier films. Even though it may appear that Rumi is closer to Taapsee’s real life personality — straight-forward and frank — the actor has a different take on it.
“I was cast in Manmarziyaan because Anurag (Kashyap, director) firmly believed that I am Rumi in real life but I begged to differ with him. I think I am way more mature, sensible and controlled than Rumi. Anurag was sure I was the one for the role. He didn’t even give me the script after the first narration because he wanted me to be spontaneous,” shares the actor. The only thing that Taapsee has in common with the character is her lack of restriction. “There is no filter attached to our personalities, we do what we think. But I use my brains before talking, unlike Rumi.”
As a validation, Taapsee reveals that she never wanted to be an actor. A qualified engineer, the youngster had set her mind on doing an MBA and pursuing a career in marketing. An all-rounder, she excelled in academics and in co-curricular activities. “I was a jack of all trades and never a master of one. I used to represent my school and college in sports, public speaking and dancing competitions. I also took up modelling assignments to earn some extra pocket money. Though I had poor attendance, I always managed to get good results.” In fact, when she completed her engineering degree, Taapsee bagged a job at Infosys but she never took it up.
“I got into engineering because I loved maths. But I knew I never wanted to do a desk job. I just wanted to prove to my parents that I could get a job,” she reveals.
However, her MBA dreams were shelved because Taapsee couldn’t get the required marks for admission in colleges of her choice. “I scored only 88 per cent. So I took a year’s break to prepare well for my next attempt. But being the hyperactive person that I am, I didn’t want to just study. I was getting a lot of film offers because of modelling but I refused initially. I was not passionate about acting. I wasn’t even a movie buff. I decided to take up one offer just to take a break from studies,” she says and before her first film, Jhummandi Nadam, released, Taapsee had signed three more films.
Even though she has no theatre or acting school background, Taapsee has managed to impress audiences with her effortless portrayal of roles. Even Taapsee’s choice of films has changed over the years and the actor admits it’s because she started looking at scripts differently and big names were no longer the criteria to act in a film. “I didn’t have anyone to guide me with which films to choose and what image I needed to carve for myself. So I started listening to stories like audiences would and I chose to work with filmmakers who could get the best out of me,” offers the actor.
Today, after back-to-back hits, Taapsee has established her position in the industry. But the actor agrees that she too has experienced nepotism when someone else was picked over her. “Nepotism does exist, and I have also been through it when I lost a film to someone. But I didn’t grieve over it. Instead, I was very vindictive about it, I was productively vindictive. I worked more on my strengths. So I knew nepotism existed and this would happen. But the fact that I don’t belong to a certain family or have a certain surname helps me because I am under no pressure,” signs off the actor decisively.