Her on-screen versatility coupled with a go-getter attitude add to the many attractions of Taapsee Pannu. Today, a saleable brand name at the box office—she’s got critics and a nation-wide audience lauding her rise through the ranks of Indian cinema
By taking on roles that push her to her limits, Taapsee arrived on the scene as a true cinematic delight. Over the years, this young actor has diligently worked her way up to become a bona fide leading lady.
Currently, her stars are shining bright at the box office. Over the past couple of months, she’s had the media and audiences aflutter with her roster of work. Starting from Badla and Mission Mangal to Saand Ki Aankh, 2019 saw Taapsee enjoy significant success. One would think that now would be the perfect time for her to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labour, but Taapsee shows no signs of slowing down. “My next project, Thappad, will release in early 2020. I’m going to be shooting for six films this year and at least four of them [are likely to] release in 2020 itself. Work is exponentially increasing! This is not how I planned it, but when a good script comes my way, I cannot let it go!” she exclaims.
Outfit: Papa Don’t Preach by Shubhika, Accessories – Necklace, ring (right hand, index finger), kadas (centre two): Rambhajo’s, Ring (right hand, ring finger): Razwada Jewels, Kadas (outer two): Rare heritage
Still beaming from the success of Saand Ki Aankh, the curly haired beauty recalls navigating through the physical challenges of transforming into Prakashi Tomar—one of the oldest sharpshooters in the world. “The kind of prosthetics, attire and temperatures we shot in were demanding— physically and emotionally. Having said that, we knew we were making something that was really going to be a hit with the audience. While filming the emotional scenes, we saw the crew and junior artistes get emotional too. These genuine reactions had us convinced that the film would connect with the audience and touch people’s hearts,” she reveals. Ultimately, the challenges she faced at the time of filming were worthwhile. “We knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to create something magical like this,” she shares. What added to the success of Saand Ki Aankhwas the chemistry between Taapsee and her co-star, Bhumi Pednekar. The duo promoted their film with camaraderie, which was a reflection of their professional rapport. “I wanted to do a film that starred two females of equal stature performing together. We were co-leads and shared equal screen time. There was no reason for one to feel lesser than the other or to not support one another— and that, for me, was a highlight,” she points out.
Outfit – Jacket: Payal Singhal, Lehenga skirt and choli: Aisha Rao, Accessories – Necklace: Razwada Jewels, Earrings, ring (left hand): Rambhajo’s, Ring (right hand): Rare Heritage
Quality content, hard-hitting scripts and socially significant topics is the latest Bollywood mantra. However, this is familiar terrain for Taapsee—one she has firm command over. “My Bollywood journey began with Chashme Baddoor(2013) which was a commercial potboiler. I soon realised that the competition was high. There were other actresses doing well in this genre. I had to carve my own niche without getting lost in the crowd. So, I decided to tap into different genres of films instead of solely focusing my energy on commercial candy-floss cinema. Not too many people were taking on non-glamorous roles in hard-hitting content-heavy films; it was a relatively free space and thankfully, that worked in my favour. These niche films proved to be the best testing ground for my acting skills!” she discloses.
Outfit: ASAL by Abu Sandeep, Accessories: Necklace and nath: Rambhajo’s, Bangles: Razwada Jewels
Success, they say, has many fathers; but in Taapsee’s opinion, success itself is the best godfather to have. “When I was starting out, I did feel the divide between industry insiders and those of us trying to break ground. But as I achieved my success, the line separating the so-called insiders and outsiders began to blur,” she shares.
Now enjoying her growing fame as an actor, Taapsee admits to not envisioning her career as it is today. “I never wanted to be an actress. So when my movie career began down South, I didn’t approach it as a stepping stone to Bollywood. The transition from South Indian cinema to Bollywood was organic; I wasn’t pitching for work. So when I was offered my first Bollywood film, I made the most of the opportunity,” she confides.
While Taapsee has won people over with her many enviable qualities—from her work credentials to remarkable talent, her ultimate victory remains her audience. “You see, whenever I am approached with a script, I read it from the audience’s point of view. I ask myself: Would I spend my hard-earned money to watch this film? Would I go out of my way to a theatre and dedicate close to three hours of my life watching it? Will my audience engage with the character? All I want is to be a bankable name. My audience should trust that if I’m a part of a film, it will be worth their time.”
Well, we’ll be among the first to queue up at the ticket window for her next release!
Photographs: Ajay Kadam, Make-Up: Maniasha (Faze Management), Hair: Michel Baltazar (Jean-Claude Biguine India), Outfit: Mahima Mahajan, Accessories – Maathapatti: Rambhajo’s, Haathphool: Razwada Jewels, Styling: Lynn Lobo, Art Direction: Gopalika Virmani, Location: The Great Eastern Home, Byculla