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“Problem lies in this sentence – Log kya kahenge”, says Taapsee Pannu

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While we are still seeing the world with Pink-tinted glasses, Taapsee Pannu speaks her heart out about women, marriage, expectations and reality. Shubarna Mukerji Shu takes notes…

Also Read: Haven’t been approached for YRF film- Taapsee Pannu 

Naam Shabana, Tadka, Ghazi… these are some of the films that we will be seeing Taapsee in post the magnificent Pink, that released in September. We always knew there was more to her than met the eye, but we were still bamboozled… How does she do it? For a girl with no influence, no training…And no godfathers! For girl who comes from a very patriarchal family to be living by herself in an actor-eat-actor world, making choices without influence… It cannot have been easy. “I have been working since 17; earlier it was just for pocket money and later, because I was enjoying what I was doing. I am in no hurry. I don’t have a fixed destination… This is not my dream, perhaps that’s the reason why I have been successful,” she quipped as the sun filtered in through the window behind her. I decided to throw some more questions to scratch the surface…


The frenzy that followed Baby, died much before Pink happened. People had almost stopped expecting much. Did that worry you?
I was pretty confident, I knew what I was doing, where I was heading. I knew what was in store. I knew the directors and producers I was going to be working with. I was confident that though it would be slow, my journey would be steady! There are many who felt that I didn’t make enough of the attention I got after BABY. But then just because Baby had worked I couldn’t go ahead and sign ten films just like that to show that I was getting work, that I was in demand! I would have screwed up everything that I had done till Baby. Trust me, there is no dearth of offers; you get new proposals once a week on an average. What is tough is the decision-making. If I ever felt the pressure it was in deciding what to do and what not to…

And the decisions don’t get any easier with all the ‘well-meaning’ people out there giving advice…
Someone once told me that advice and opinions are like assholes, everyone has one… and they want it in your face. They want to be the messiah, the ultimate advisor to you, telling you what you would be doing and how! ‘I have worked in this industry for so many years, I know it all, I’ll tell you what to do…’ but in my head I am saying, those many years were very many years ago, every couple of years the whole industry changes, that advice would be of no use to me. But of course, I am not someone to shut a person up like that so I listen but I do what I think I should.

What many people don’t realise or perhaps don’t believe is that I don’t want to be number one. I have not dreamt of doing this. I don’t have some burning passion to do that one particular dream role. I do movies but I am enjoying them. If they don’t excite me, I won’t be doing it. I don’t have luxurious needs so doing fewer films doesn’t bother me.

But many actresses worry because of the relatively short shelf-life of their careers…
With a lot of films coming my way, I was rejected because I was too young for the role. Good roles with strong women characters are being written and they are written even for mature actresses. So be it a Sridevi or a girl who has just entered the industry, there are films for everyone. There is no hurry.

Talking about the strong women characters that are out there, you realise you are partly responsible for killing the abla naari?
I am certainly not one of them, and if you look around there are not many of us out there who want to be a helpless, woebegone, miserable person. It is not like I didn’t try – not in Hindi films but down south, I tried to look all helpless and miserable, I looked so bad! It doesn’t suit me – I cannot do coy, I cannot do this helpless act. Those movies also flopped so it’s obvious that I was bad at it. So let me do what comes naturally. I like playing those strong women characters, I like that I pack a powerful punch though I really hate hitting people onscreen. I know my hand really hurts bad!

Also Read: Competition in Bollywood is brutal-Taapsee Pannu

All said and done, it’s our Indian upbringing… we like to think we are keeping our women protected and overtly confident women threaten that belief…
True that about being protective because if you ask them (your parents) if they don’t trust you, they will say that it is the people around that they don’t trust. We have all been brought up in that kind of a family. It is only when I started working, when I started modeling – meeting the people outside of family and friends, seeing the real world, how they treat people – that I started opening my mouth in front of my parents. For me, my experience, my observation in life, has been my teacher. My parents have been good enough to hear me out. I am glad that they did that much at least because not many get that.

So what do you think Indian women need today – given the ‘achche din’ are really not quite around the corner for her…
Our whole problem lies in this sentence – ‘Log kya kahenge’. The day we started thinking about ourselves and not what others will think, we will be better off. It is a fact that that one thought alone threatens all our happiness. How will I put up a complaint against an assault? What will people think? What will my parents say? What should I be wearing? …these are the miseries of our existence.

But this is our conditioning…
It is and hence it is really tough to break out of it, but if you want to be happy you will have to leave the ‘logon’ ka problem to themselves!