In her trademark outspoken style, Taapsee Pannu chats about her fee hike, her equations in the industry and why she doesn’t mind being a part of multi-starrers.
Taapsee Pannu is not just a genre-defying actress, but also an industry defying one. She has enjoyed commercial and critical success in Tollywood, Kollywood, has starred in a Malayalam film, and in 2013 gave Bollywood a go with Chashme Baddoor. But Taapsee became a household name with her fierce yet heartbreakingly vulnerable Meenal in Pink.
From then, there has been no looking back for the lissom actress. After her nail-biting latest, Game Over, the actress has a slew of interesting films lined up for 2019, like the sci-fi drama Mission Mangal, Saand Ki Aankh and Womaniya.
But apart from her daring filmography, the actress also has a plucky personality. She has given it back to her social media haters on more than one occasion, hasn’t shied away from throwing shade at a contemporary for a below-the-belt remark and is quite candid in her conversations with the press too.
With successes like manmarziyaan and Badla that have propelled you into the league of ‘bankable stars’. Have you signalled a fee hike yet?
Yes, I have hiked my fee and it happens with every successful actress. After a success, people believe that having you in the film guarantees a certain amount of money, so you obviously hike your price. But you have to be practical and I am very practical that way. I can’t demand equal pay as my co-actor, because his films open at a different number. The day my films start opening at that number, I will ask for the same amount, and they will pay me. Until then, I have to be sensible and can’t go overboard.
You’ve said earlier that you speak your mind because you have nothing to lose. Does having made a name for yourself change things?
I still don’t have anything to lose. I came with no background, I don’t have multiple films being signed with any big actor or studio. I still work on a per movie basis with everyone. All the decisions have been mine, whether right or wrong, so I am not answerable to anyone. Neither my speech nor my mind has changed. I didn’t try to create an image, because this is who I am. I didn’t have fear then and I don’t have fear now. If this doesn’t work well in the future, it’s not the end of my life; I still look at it as a job that I love. If my job is not loving me back, I will do something else.
Kabir Singh has been met with mixed reactions, and in a recent tweet, you did take a jibe at Sandeep Vanga for one of his remarks. Would you ever do a film like Kabir Singh?
I can only tell you about right now; because at the start of my career, when I said I didn’t know anything about acting, I don’t know what my decision would have been.
Today, if you ask me, I definitely wouldn’t have taken it up because it’s not just the script. What matters is how much impact my role creates and that’s not the kind of role I’d like to do. Having said that, there are so many girls who like the kind of roles I may not like and vice versa; to each their own. But I don’t think the director would have even approached me, or I would feature as an option for such a role. Fair enough, that way we at least agree on something.
But the film has crossed Rs 200 crores. How do you react to that?
That’s showing a mirror to society; that while we are changing and questioning, there is still a majority that isn’t. Having said that, I am not giving up on the kind of films I am working on just because a film like Kabir Singh is doing brilliantly. I won’t change just because my films don’t touch that kind of a number.
Do you think that you’re still not ascribed that ‘heroine’ status?
Yes, it is true, because I am not in the central scheme of things in the Bollywood circle. It feels odd to speak about yourself, but in 2018 I had the best-rated films. Even this year, both my films are in the top 10 and I won’t be surprised if the next two also make it to the list. But I don’t stand on my terrace and announce my work and achievements to all. I don’t have people who will validate my work by tweeting about me or talking about it, because I am not in the central social circle of the industry.
Does that upset you?
I was telling Ekta (Kapoor), that I’m not on the radar and that people don’t recognise my work. But she said, ‘no darling, you are very much under my radar’, so that was really sweet of her.
She acknowledged the fact that I have given so many films in the last couple of years, which have been bonafide hits, even though they were underdog films and people didn’t speak much about them. This coming from someone like Ekta means a lot.
Maybe people who keep track of what’s happening, prefer not to talk about my films, which is why I don’t make it to those lists. I am not bothered now, but I was a few years back because I was expecting some kind of acknowledgment in return. Then I realised that I need acknowledgement from the people who are going to pay for my movie. So it is the box office numbers that will talk for me.
Social media trolls can be vicious, and you haven’t taken the hate lying down. does it get to you after a point?
The comments used to get to me before, and I would not reply. I was like, ‘why are they saying this about me’. I have replied to people who were very mean to me, and then my dad said, ‘don’t reply’. After that, I was fine. But I think trolling is a mark of how much you matter because, in today’s day and age, nobody is going to invest their time on you if you are not worth their time. So today, whatever people are doing against me is because I matter.
You’re quite keen to be part of the Mithali biopic…
I would love to do it. It’s definitely one of the most heartfelt projects around. It will be a huge responsibility because I will have to learn a new sport. So it will be challenging.
After shouldering the weight of most of your films, were you reluctant to be part of a multi-starrer like Mission Mangal?
Honestly, this was one of the reasons to do the film actually. I don’t want this message to go out that I’m reluctant to be part of an ensemble cast because of the films I’ve done till date. If it’s a good film, and I have a part that my audiences will remember when they walk out of the theatre, it doesn’t matter how much screen space I get. I judge by the script and this one’s made the cut.