I became oversensitive and vulnerable while shooting Pink: Taapsee Pannu
The thriller cum courtroom drama Pink is set for release. While on the one side, the film has stalwarts from the industry such as Amitabh Bachchan and Piyush Mishra, on the other it has a bunch of young talent including Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Angad Bedi and others. But does the presence of these senior actors intimidate the younger actors? In a talk with Pandolin, Taapsee Pannu, who was last seen in a small but impressive role in Baby, spills the beans. She spoke at length about Pink and what follows.
How did you bag a role in Pink?
I’ve worked with Shoojit Sircar sir in a film called Running Shaadi.com which is due for release. He had seen my work, so when the script of Pink was ready, he offered me this role. I heard the basic idea of the film and that was good enough for me to say yes. When I read the script I liked it even more.
What’s your character in the film like?
I play Meenal Arora who is an independent working woman. She works as a professional dancer and doesn’t want to disturb her parents with her coming back home late in the night. So though her parents also stay in Delhi, she stays separately. There are two other girls who stay with her. Over the years they have become good friends. She is self-made and likes to have control over her own life. Meenal is extremely confident of herself. If she knows that she hasn’t done anything wrong, she will make sure that she stands by it. She doesn’t want to let go of things by saying the regular things like, “Oh, let’s not talk about it” or “Because I am a girl, let it be!” She knows how to take a stand for herself.
My character knows how to take a stand for herself
Your role seems to be an emotionally draining one. Did it affect you beyond the film?
Yes, it did. I became oversensitive and vulnerable while shooting the film. During the course of the shoot, not even once did I use glycerine. It was all real tears. Getting myself into that mode made me really sensitive. To get out of it, I had to take a break for a week to travel and unwind myself and then get back.
What was your director, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury‘s brief regarding your part? And how have you made it your own, in terms of research and preparation?
My director’s brief was to get my real self in front of the camera. And I did absolutely the same.
But I had to perform myself in a different way. I had to do my preps for the molestation sequence and courtroom scenes. For that he (Director) showed me a lot of videos. The videos were primarily around molestation and the behavior of the victims in the court.
My director’s brief was to get my real self in front of the camera
Performing alongside veterans like Amitabh Bachchan and Piyush Mishra must have been an enthralling experience. What were the learnings? Did it get daunting to perform in front of them?
Homework. Full stop. No matter how big you are you need to do your homework every single time. That is what I learnt from them. Both of them were so dedicated. And the kind of homework that they had done was amazing. They were like the frontbenchers in school. On the sets also, they were totally into their scripts.
It wasn’t intimidating at all. But yes, it was slightly pressurizing because you are forced to give your hundred percent every single time. Otherwise you will just stand out like a sore thumb.
Pink has been generating a lot of noise. But nothing much has been revealed. What can we expect?
Precisely the reason that we call it a thriller! (Laughs) We want people to go and watch it in theatres. I am happy that the trailer has intrigued the audience. The trailer was our hero and it has done its job. Now I am hoping that the film gets a good opening at the box office.
The trailer was our hero and it has done its job
This is your third Hindi film. Has the experience been different as compared to the regional projects that you’ve worked on?
The only difference that I found between South Indian and Hindi films is the language. Professionally, I haven’t seen much difference.
You’ve also experimented with the short film format with Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Baarish aur Chowmein. What drew you to that film? And how was it working with Tigmanshu?
Tigmanshu sir was reason enough for me to say yes to the project. Had it been even an ad film, I would have said yes as I admire his work a lot.
I play a background dancer in that film. The character is a Maharashtrian, which was a huge challenge for me as my mother tongue is Punjabi. So If I had to shoot for seven days, then it would take me as many as four days for the dubbing. As it is, I am not a big fan of dubbing as a concept. It is difficult to recreate that emotion inside a dubbing studio. But we shot this film during Ganpati visarjan so it was impossible to do sync sound.
Working with Tigmanshu sir was very interesting. He influenced my style of working. He has this saying, “If you are working as an actor then first go to the jungle. Look at the lion. Register it. Get scared of it and then run. Don’t just start running pointlessly just after entering the jungle.” As an actor you have to get into a shot, observe it, let it sink in and then react. You need to be at ease during the shots and listen to your co-actors. That is a major tool that I learnt from him.
Tigmanshu sir was reason enough for me to say yes to the project
How do you choose your projects? Also, have the choices changed with time? Tell us about your future projects.
I just choose the best out of the options that I have in hand. I have no plan or any such thing. I just purely go by the year and choose the best out of whatever I get. This has been the same since the beginning of my career. I never wanted to act. So, I have no such plan of reaching numero uno. I just want to keep working till the time I am enjoying it.
I have quite a number of projects lined up since you didn’t see much of me in the last two years. After Baby, I finished Gazi which is a bilingual film in Telugu and Hindi. It will release early next year. It’s India’s first submarine film based on the 1971 war which resulted in the formation of Bangladesh. I play a Bangladeshi refugee in that film.
I have also worked in Prakash Raj’s film called TADKA, which is his debut as a director in Hindi films. I’m paired opposite Ali Fazal in the film.
I am half way through a film called Makhna, being produced by Jacky Bhagnani. I am acting opposite Saqib Saleem in the film. I am soon going to join my next film with Neeraj Pandey. It is titled Naam Shabana and is an action thriller.