SHOMA A.CHATTERJI | 11 MARCH, 2017
"Pink Is Now the Colour of Courage, Power": Taapsi Pannu
Apart from making waves across the country, Pink, the film, has created a new star on the horizon – her name is Taapsi Pannu. This is not her debut in Bollywood but it has surely invested her with a stardom that has surprised her as much as it has the rest of Bollywood. Move over top stars of Bollywood, Taapsi Pannu is coming as is also evident from this interview with her by Shoma A.Chatterji. Read on:
What does the colour Pink stand for in your interpretation?
Till I heard the script of the film and my role in it, for me, pink meant what it meant to everyone else. It has been a colour associated with girls in pink ribbons playing with Barbie dolls, a soft, feminine colour that denotes softness, gentleness and grace. This film has changed all our notions about this colour completely and radically, almost turning it on its head, so to speak. For me and for the rest of the Pink team, including the boys who play the bad cards in the pack, it now stands for courage, power, strength and so on, for girls and women and take note, also for men.
What was your reaction when Aniruddha Roy Choudhury and Shoojit Sircar explained your character in the film to you?
My response was a mixture of different emotions like surprise, pleasure, diffidence, a bit of fear and thrill. Once I got into grips with the character, I said to myself that I must do this. I count myself fortunate to have been chosen to play a very difficult character like Meenal Arora who is so much like me and so much different from what I am.
What kind of experience and adventure did you gain from working in this radical film that is making news across the country?
The first was the character itself so different from the ones I have done before in the Southern films and also my Bollywood debut film Baby. I was really surprised that the makers chose me over many more experienced actresses to play Meenal Arota. The biggest bonus was being in the same frame and none other than Amitabh Bachchan himself. I had to pinch myself to believe that I was actually going to share screen space with Mr. Bachchan for quite some time in the film. Then, there is the bonding we shared – Kirti, Andrea and myself. The director and Shoojit insisted that we must bond to make our performance convincing and realistic not only on the sets while shooting or in the make-up room but also away from the shooting scenario. We had to bond and we did. We are still friends in real life.
What was the most challenging part of your role?
The most challenging part was to make myself really believe that I had really been molested and prep myself so that I could internalise the feelings of humiliation, insult, pain and hurt Meenal or any girl felt when someone had pushed himself on to her after she had expressly said “no.” It was as if I was hammering fiction into my head so that it began to feel real. And believe me, after a point of time, it began to feel real. This affected not only me but the entire cast and crew that was present at the sets during the shooting every single day. Every day after the shoot was over, it took me some time to come back and become the Taapsi I am in real life. It was emotionally draining.
Have you ever faced a situation like Meenal does in real life?
Having been born and brought up in Delhi, I have had more than my share of eve-teasing, anonymous telephone calls, being inappropriately touched in a crowd or in DTC buses during rush hours. Once I twisted the elbow of someone who was touching me in a bus but I did not dare to turn around and shout out at him. You do not dare do such acts in Delhi because the public does not support you. It is that simple. So, basically, all three of us were playing our lives out in a manner of speaking, this time on film and also, expressing our hate, disgust, anger, insult openly in a courtroom in front of everyone. Working in the film gave all three of us the opportunity to let of steam in a different way.
How was it working with Mr. Bachchan?
It was an unexpected bonus, a great surprise for a newbie like myself in Bollywood and even in Indian cinema. All three of us were scared of acting with him but when we met him the first time, we were flummoxed by his grounded ness, his humility and his vast ocean of experience we learnt so much from. His sense of discipline, his dedication to work on every scene before he arrived in the studios is lessons to be learnt for life.