It’s nice to be the Singham & Dabangg for a change
The talented Tabu will be seen as a tough-talking cop in Drishyam. In a freewheeling chat she reveals why she agreed to do the remake of the Malayalam film and what she liked about the her role.
Director Nishikant Kamat said that even before the film’s narration, within just 5 minutes of a phone conversation, you told him you are interested to play IG Meera Deshmukh. What attracted you so much to the character?
My best friends’ have produced the Malayalam version – that time there was no talk of making it in Hindi – so I have known about this film since the original was in the making. When I saw it, I instantly liked the cop’s character. I had told them that if they ever make it in Hindi I want to do the cop’s role. When you see the film you’ll understand there is so much power in playing such a strong character. It is okay being vulnerable and doing rona dhona onscreen, but sometimes I also want to play powerful people who can call the shot. It is nice to be the ‘Singham’ and ‘Dabangg’ for a change. Also, it is very exciting for any actor to play a cop, because that uniform has something to it. I haven’t played anything like this in a long time.
Did you have to go through some special physical training for the cop’s role?
Fortunately or unfortunately I didn’t have to do any action, toh main bach gai. But my trainer was extremely excited about this film. He constantly reminded me to workout as I had to wear the police uniform in the film. I can’t do rigorous workout, I did whatever I could.
Drishyam is made in many languages. Were you not hesitant because of the comparisons?
No, I was very excited to do this film. Aise toh remakes, sequels, prequels hote rahenge. If you like something you should do it.
After signing the Hindi version, did you watch the original Drishyam again?
How was it working with child actors?
Both the girls (Ishita Dutta and Mrunal Jadhav) have done a wonderful job. Ishita, who plays the older daughter, is very charming, pretty and a good actor. So is the younger daughter, Mrunal. I think both the girls and their mother, Shriya Saran, had difficult parts to play. Their situation is very difficult. I didn’t like grilling them in the film.
How was the experience of working with Nishikant Kamat?
He is fantastic. Because he is so easy-going as a person that it made it easy for me to communicate with him. He does not carry a lot of baggage, has no ego and I didn’t feel any barrier in approaching him. He knows his job and knows how to finish a film in so many days. What also helped is that he knows the regions of Konkan and Maharashtra, where we shot, well.
Most of the roles you play are strong like your real life personality. Do you consciously seek such characters?
Ya. I think I gravitate towards characters that have something about them, something edgy or unusual and make an impact in the story of the film.
You say that you need a factor of relatability in the roles you portray onscreen. What did you identify personally with Meera’s character?
Actually, I really wish I could be like Meera – so ruthless and cold at one level to get the job done. I really admire that being a woman she is able to call the shots, get people picked up, beaten up and get the truth out of them, put them behind bars, etc. There are women in powerful positions doing that. I met a woman who was a part of the anti-terrorist squad. She has done so many encounters and I was wowed. As a woman you really want to know what kind of training and upbringing it takes for them to reach this level. I admire that kind of fearlessness and the fact that they put their life at risk. So, that was the thing for me.
Who are the women in your life or otherwise that have inspired you?
I can’t think of any one person. I am surrounded by all of them, my mom, my sister… I think every woman has some unique thing about her. I think they have a very strong survival instinct. The things they do to keep their families going or marriage going or bring up their kids well. Even professionally, how they multi-task is inspiring. Whether it is Oprah Winfrey doing so much for girls and women all around the world to my mum to my house-help who works in 14 houses a day and looks after the education of her children; I think every woman has a story to tell.
Can you describe your relationship with your onscreen husband, played by Rajat Kapoor?
He is also such an interesting and fantastic character in the film. The equation between me and him is so good. She is this powerful Inspector General of Police but still there is no underlying power equation between husband and wife. Neither is he a henpecked husband nor am I a docile wife. They share a very equal equation in the relationship.
In an interview Ajay Devgn said you are the hero of the film.
Ha ha ha, he is just putting the expectations on me and trying to get out and underplay himself. Ajay is the hero and it is because of him that it becomes such a big project. I am a very strong character in the film and it is felt. Every character is equally important. Shriya’s (Saran) character also has so much to do in the film. If I was given any role in this film I would be happy to do it. Even characters who come for one or two scenes have such a key part to play in the story. The story is essentially about this simple family, about these two girls and what happens to them. I think every actor has a wide range of emotions to display.
The original Drishyam and its remakes have done well. What are your expectations from the Hindi film audience?
Can we ever think how the audience will perceive it? I don’t know numbers, I am just hoping people will like it. I am sure people will have a different and strong experience while watching this film.
You won the National Award for Haider and people said it should have been titled Ghazala. While shooting did you ever think your role will reach such heights of appreciation?
I had no clue that the reviews will say that it should have been called Ghazala and not Haider. I didn’t expect such appreciation. It’s a magical experience for me. I knew the film will have an impact. I knew it will be a really unusual story with unusual and twisted characters, but also identifiable in some ways. So, in a way I was pleasantly surprised with the appreciation. Also, I was so involved in playing that character and so strongly in that zone that I had no ability to come out of it and think that yeh kaisa perceive hoga.
Do you have any plans to produce or direct movies?