Taapsee Pannu will soon be seen as Indian cricketer Mithali Raj in Shabaash Mithu. The biopic is directed by Srijit Mukherji and produced by Viacom18 Studios. It will release on July 15. The Free Press Journal caught up with the actress for an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
How was the process of shooting Shabaash Mithu since you are playing the role of Mithali Raj?
When I was training and shooting for it, I totally forgot that I am an actor. I genuinely enjoy playing sports, and I played quite a lot while I was growing up. I even started watching sports before I started watching films. Till date, I am more intimidated by sports stars than film stars. I never stopped myself from learning a new sport. Although I never represented my school at a very high level for sports, I was always a part of a new sports batch or learned from the coach.
I tried gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, badminton, everything possible, and probably this is the reason that I started gravitating to these kinds of films. Cricket was the only game I never played. I have only seen it. While I was shooting for Shabaash Mithu, I was cribbing about why I didn’t learn it in my growing years. I would have at least known the techniques.
Did you feel a certain kind of responsibility when Shabaash Mithu was offered to you?
A lot. I played cricket under a lot of pressure to shoot because I was playing Mithali Raj, who is the introduction to women’s cricket for many of us and is known for her technical finesse. I had very limited time to learn cricket of her level. Now, since the film is nearing its release, I enjoy holding the bat since there is no performance pressure.
How do you maintain the consistency of doing films which are of national interest or have a social message?
I believe that I don’t go to a project for the messaging of it. I always feel attracted towards the newness of the subject or the fact that I have something to take back home. I don’t forget the films after the narration or reading them. They stay with me for some time. Messaging has never been the driving for me while choosing a film.
What makes you choose films that are solely on your own shoulders?
I wasn’t spoiled by several choices initially, I had no option but to choose them. Many films come to me for which no one wants to take responsibility. I never got conventional roles since a lot of gorgeous women were doing it so well. I made my own path, and I feel there is no hurry in life. I realised that no one wants to take the risk after I became a producer. I don’t have fears since I never nurtured to be an actor. Risk-taking has become my formula.
How was your experience at the London International Film Festival 2022, where Dobaaraa got a standing ovation?
I feel when you represent a film for Anurag Kashyap at a film festival, it can’t go wrong. Very few directors get this kind of fan following, so I was very relaxed. The output of his films might not support box office numbers at times, but any actor would cherish his films in their filmography. You need a director like Anurag to get into a risky zone since Dobaaraa is about time travel.