She is known to bend the rules in Bollywood. At a time when her contemporaries opted for commercial cinema, Tabu stuck to her guns. Today, the gamble has worked as her resume boasts of some unconventional films, with some of the best names in the industry. In a candid conversation, Tabu speaks about her ‘My rule, my life’ policy.
Golmaal Again was a huge success. How does it feel to be a part of a multi-starrer, successful film?
It feels great; I feel gratified and proud, because it was such a big team. It’s nice to be a part of something that’s so positive and dynamic in terms of experience. Golmaal Again was an endearing film. There were so many reasons for me to celebrate the success of the film. One among them was working with Rohit Shetty (the director). I have worked with him during Haqeeqat (1995, starring Ajay Devgn) — where Rohit was the assistant director for the film. We have a long history. Golmaal was like a homecoming of sorts for all of us. On many levels, it has been a huge milestone for me.
You went on record to state that you have been craving to do a lot more comedy films. Have you been getting offers for more roles post Golmaal Again?
These kinds of films are not made daily; it’s a successful franchise. And the ratio of a comedy film to other films is much lesser. Given the genre, you don’t get offers every day. There will always be fewer comic films, and even lesser roles for women. That’s a fact.
So, how many scripts do you reject on an average, compared to the films that you do accept?
I refuse more than I accept, and I am quite infamous for that. Javed saab (Akhtar) once asked me ‘what are you doing apart from rejecting films these days?’ I think my habit of refusing films has become a bigger talking point than me signing movies. I have always taken my own time and decided about taking up a film. It’s very important for me to be convinced about a project. I want a film to be fulfilling in many ways. It isn’t just about my role.
Do you think you have been lucky with choosing the right roles? Or did you have a tough time making the rules?
I believe I have been given interesting roles all through out my career. It’s amazing how people like Mahesh Manjrekar and Gulzaar saab thought of casting me in such powerful characters, when I was young. I don’t think I even understood the relevance or social impact of the films I did at the time. I got the chance to portray such dark, layered parts right from the beginning, and that has been carried out throughout my career. When I look at Drishyam, I think it is one of the most powerful and impactful roles given to an actress. There has been no dearth of interesting characters for me.
Do you ever feel like your options have been narrowed down after exploring such roles?
Never ever! I have rejected so many offers, that I have never felt like that there’s more to explore. I know something worthwhile will come to me. People have a strong perception of the kind of scripts I would like. So many makers come to me with different characters, and that’s a huge achievement for me. This is not to say that every script I receive is interesting. I believe my greatest advantage is that I can be moulded into any character. And somehow it works.
You also write a lot. Do we see you writing a script some day?
I don’t think I will ever be able to write a script; I am not leaning towards it. I have always used writing as a medium for self-expression. I used to write some letters to my cousins when I lived in Hyderabad. That habit has stayed with me.
Quite the rule-breaker in Bollywood, you choose unconventional roles. Wasn’t the money offered for a commercial role ever tempting enough for you to take it up?
Even when it isn’t Bollywood, money is always tempting. It’s not easy to resist it, of course. I would love to make more, because I like to lead a good life, and wear good clothes. I like to travel and that’s where I spend most of my money. But I will always choose what’s worthwhile. As far as being a rule breaker is concerned, I was being myself. So, it came naturally to me. I am glad I broke the roles. Honesty, I was going by my gut and conviction. My films The Namesake, Hu Tu Tu, Maachis — I was convinced about each of these projects.
When I heard the script for Cheeni Kum for the first time, I knew it was a fantastic concept. I was sure that there couldn’t be a better casting than Amitabh Bachchan saab and me. I always found anything that’s different very attractive. I have always been drawn to things that are unconventional....