Taapsee Pannu is one actress who has managed to pull off powerful women- centric characters onscreen that every woman would be proud of. Taapsee is only a few films old and yet she has managed to essay some really strong characters on screen. It’s not just about how big a role is but also in a cameo like in Baby, she performed so exceptionally well, that Neeraj Pandey, the director of Baby decided to come up with a prequel to the film starring Taapsee. Naam Shabana is all set to release this Friday and from the trailer, looks like, the actress is sure going to pack a powerful punch. In an exclusive interview with BollywoodLife, Taapsee reveals how it feels to be the poster girl of women- centric movies, issues that the society needs to strongly deal with, the kind of films she would want to in the future and a lot more.
The trailer of Naam Shabana has got a very good response. What’s the best compliment you have received so far?
There have been so many, by God’s grace. But I think, the best ones is from the trolls. Surprisingly trolls have been really nice to me so far, online. So I have been getting these pictures with trolling messages which say, “After Pink, she comes back with Naam Shabana, ladies and gentlemen, we have the next superstar of Bollywood with us. Of course, I am not a superstar, but the reaction from the trolls is something like.. you are like ‘okay, so you’ve taken attention in a good way of these people also. So that kind of made me feel like I have achieved something. And there have been people from the south Indian industry who have been like ‘Oh wow! We have seen her in 17 – 18 films but we have never seen her like that’. So that’s also very encouraging. So yes, it has been very, very good so far.
Shabana is a character that every woman would love to play onscreen. How did you bag the role?
The role, thank God, it was supposed to be done only by me because of the connect with Baby because it’s a spin off of Baby. So my character in Baby was just a 15 – 20 minutes role in total. So thanks to the reaction of the audience. I think they are the ones whom the seed went into Neeraj Pandey’s head that he needs to write this entire film because people wanted to see more of me after that film. So, thankfully, because of the film’s reactions, Neeraj sir thought let’s make an entire film on her and that’s when he called me and asked me if I will be interested and I was like “Will I be interested? Can this happen first of all?” So yeah, it was too good a feeling and then he had a word with the other cast of Baby and they all gave it a positive reaction. People were readily happy to come on board and make this project happen. I mean, look at the names backing it up; be it in the cameos or the star cast or behind the camera, I think I cannot put it in words how a two film old girl, at that time I was only two films old, can have this kind of an enormous support from such big names in the industry that she got to do something like a titular role so early in her career.
A lot of biopics are being made. Would you want to be a part of any?
I have been extremely keen on doing a sports film. If I do that, then someone like Sania Mirza. Otherwise, Indira Gandhi. I think not just one film, I think we would have to make 10 films on her life that will do justice to her.
Is there any role that you wouldn’t want to play on – screen?
I always say never say never but I can’t see myself or I don’t feel I can pull off a sex comedy. That’s something I think will have a major trouble trying to portray. I will be extremely uncomfortable so to say so I think I will not try that.
Talking about Baby, you played a cameo in an Akshay Kumar film. And now, you have got the superstar to play a cameo in your play film. How does it feel to be in two different spaces within such a short span of time?
Obviously it feels that you are going in the right direction first of all.. and then I really want to be thankful and I especially need to thank Akshay sir, he didn’t really need to do this and he came on board not just as a cameo because he was a part of Baby but also as a producer in this film. So he didn’t really have to do it but I think the belief in me that he wanted to bet his money on me, because that’s basically a producer’s job, so that makes me feel really important and special because someone like him wants to back me up. That’s a beautiful feeling. I think I am going in the right direction, no matter how much I say would be less when it comes to thanking Neeraj sir and Akshay sir for backing me so early in my career. So I mean yes, this is almost like a dream that I never thought would happen to me also, So I am thankful to them.
In Pink, of course, Amitabh was an important character but the film was based on three women and you were one among them. In The Ghazi Attack also you stood tall and now in Naam Shabana also you are playing the lead protagonist. How does it feel to be the poster girl of female – centric movies? Do you think that it’s the best time for women in the film industry?
Definitely! If you see the record, in the last two – three years, the number of female-centric films, I’ll say where the protagonist is a female, the frequency of these films have increased so much in the last couple of years. Now you talk about all the leading ladies of the country, they are doing a film that’s based on a female protagonist. And on an average, one film, a month, will be the one in which a female is the protagonist of the film. So, I think it has been a huge change that we have been witnessing in the last couple of years and it will only go upwards from there because the kind of response we are getting is also very good.
On Women’s Day, you and Swara Bhaskar shot for this powerful video which dealt with “how much cleavage is good cleavage”. Are there any other issues in the society that you would want to address?
The issue that I most strongly feel about is the fact that we need to stop getting dependent on others to come and help us. We need to be our own hero. You need to take charge of your safety in your own hands trust me, it’s not difficult. It’s just a psychological block that we can’t do it. Otherwise, there is nothing called as impossible or difficult for us.