Revenge is a universal emotion: Taapsee Pannu
The actor, whose latest release, Badla, hit the screens last Friday, talks about the film, her South connection, and more
Taapsee Pannu wrecked hearts in Manmarziyaan, bigotry in Mulk. In the case of Badla, her first release of 2019, the wreckage is of a different kind. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, the film is a Hindi remake of the Spanish thriller Contratiempo (meaning, ‘setback’), released in English as The Invisible Guest in 2016. While it is now evident that the plot sticks close to the original: a murder transpires in a hotel room, an arrest is made; a doubting attorney probes through flashbacks. Primary tweaks come in the form of interesting role reversals: Taapsee’s character was originally male, played by Spanish actor Mario Casas. Amitabh Bachchan, her co-star from Pink, replaces the unforgettable Blanca Martinez.
“It was a Bong set all over again," Taapsee jokes when asked about reuniting with Bachchan after a gap of two years. "We had a Bengali director. Our DOP (Avik Mukhopadhyay) had also shot Pink. The sound-recordist was a Bengali too. So it didn’t feel much different from the last time.” As for her thoughts on the film’s central theme - vengeance - the actor noted (matter-of-factly): “It’s a universal human emotion. It’s just that our techniques keep changing; I exact revenge differently now than I did when I was ten.”
Excerpts from an interview...
What’s your funniest memory of settling a score with someone?
I was in school in the tenth grade. I was dating a person who broke up with me on the pretext of the board exams. It made me feel bad. Some years later, he started flirting with me again on social media. I discovered he was already dating someone. I took print-outs of our conversation and sent it to the girl (laughs). That's just stuff you do when you are young and childish.
How has your on-screen equation evolved with Mr. Bachchan?
My characters in Pink and Badla - Minal Arora and Naina Sethi respectively - are chalk and cheese. As a result, the dynamics between me and Mr. Bachchan are completely different. In Minal’s case, Bachchan came down as God to get her justice, whereas Naina has hired him as her lawyer, and commands some authority over him. It’s no more a piteous equation. Naina is a self-made, strong woman. who won’t be played easily
Spoilers are easily spread in the age of social media. Was it a concern while making a murder mystery/whodunit?
A lot of people raised this question when we decided to do the film. However, tell me one thing — in (romantic) movies, we know the boy and girl are eventually going to meet, right? Still, what keeps us glued is ‘how’ they meet. Similarly, in Badla, the point is not who has done it, but how we get to know who the person is.
Sujoy Ghosh is considered as a master of thrillers, evinced by the success of Kahaani. How different is his adaptation of The Invisible Guest from the original film?
He has filled up some glaring loopholes in the original. He has also made it relatable to an Indian audience. The rest must be seen to be figured out. Our producer, Sunir Khetrapal, had initially pitched me the lead character’s girlfriend part, but I demanded to play the central role. That led to the gender reversal in the script. I felt gratified they accommodated a change like that for me. Also, by making the character a woman, the layers of the story automatically changed. There was a lot more we could do with it.
You started your career in Tamil and Telugu films. Do you plan on continuing working in regional industries?
I do one film a year in the South. After Badla, I will be seen in the Tamil-Telugu bilingual Game Over. I am still committed to working in regional industries. There are a lot of changes happening in the South, maybe not as drastically as Bollywood, but still. I am getting offered quite some interesting roles from there.