Taapsee Pannu doesn't fear to 'call a spade a spade' and that's what makes up for an interesting conversation. In the age of Bollywood celebs choosing to be politically correct and playing safe, she is a refreshing change just like her unconventional name.
We recently caught up with the spunky actress and what followed next was a sort of an eye-opener on topics ranging from feminism to pay disparity in the industry and of course, her upcoming film Naam Shabana.
Excerpts from the interview-
I Don't Workout To Lose Weight Anymore
"I am very proud of my weight.. Everyone keeps saying that I am almost starving myself which is totally wrong. You should see me doing lunch and having meals and you will be surprised. I am not an over workout freak. I don't work out to lose weight anymore. I stopped doing that 4-5 years back. Instead, I work out to stay strong to work for 12 hours. To make myself active enough for 14-15 hours actually, I need to stay very fit and strong for which I work out. I have no restrictions in my diet. I don't take any protein shakes. I have been an ardent sports fan. I play squash regularly and off late I started cardio and gym because I needed muscles to play the game I like."
Akshay Kumar's Presence Will Help Us Take Naam Shabana To The Masses
On not letting Akshay Kumar do what he is known for (action), Taapsee said, "He was the producer, he asked for it. (laughs) He was the one to set the stage for that. It was so kind of him to take a backseat. I think very shamelessly that his presence is what will help us take this film to the masses and he is probably aware of that. He comes at a very crucial point that just makes me feel that he has certain beliefs in the film and me portraying that character. So, I was just following my producer's expectations about whatever I did in the film."
"Indian audience is ready for a female protagonist. Now, that's upto you how you want to show them as a female central character. For me, to come in and as Naam Shabana, especially when it's a part of a franchise and has big names attached to it, I don't think I could have asked for a better central lead film to have."
I Don't Have Any Qualms In Being The Female Action Star
"Actually, there have been other girls who have tried their hand at action. It's just that with Naam Shabana I will have two films where I have done action compared to lot of others who would have probably done just one. I am happy that I am starting a genre for girls. I don't have any qualms in being the female action star or whatever you can call it. I feel it's a nice space to be in."
It's A Welcome Change That People Are Accepting Films With A Female Lead
"I feel I am very lucky to witness this change and be a part of it. Three-four years back, we would have 1-2 films in a year with a female lead and now we have 1-2 such films in a month. It's a good welcome change that people are accepting it and are open to it. You need to help us project this films at par with other films which are so-called centric. It's a collaborative effort that we all need to do."
I Should Be Paid According To How Many People Walked Into A Theatre To Watch My Film
"Yes, it's true and I don't have any problem with it because this is show business. At the end of the day, you will be only paid according to how much your film makes at the box office. How many people will walk into a theatre because it's a Taapsee Pannu film? I should be paid according to that. That's what I meant when I said it's a collaborative effort.
When female centric films are projected in a good way, people will walk in the theatres with that mind, increasing the box office numbers and then our pay cheques would be high. I can't put burden on my producers and ask them to give me money equal as so and so hero. The day when the audience will walk in the theatres saying this is Deepika, Priyanka, Kangana or in this case my film, then that day I can ask my producers to give me the same amount as my male counterpart and that will be fair."
I Don't Want To Be Pitied Upon Just Because I Am A Female
"For me, feminism is all about equal opportunities. I don't want reservations. I don't want to be pitied upon just because I am a female. I feel very awkward when people ask me how do you feel being the female protagonist of a film. That's a weird question to answer. I really wish that day arrives when I wouldn't have to answer how does it feel to be the hero of a film. That day, the feminism in me will win or be happy or come to rest. I would love that day when it comes to a time where we stop categorizing films as female-centric or women-centric. For me, being a hero or a heroine is not about gender. Even a female can be a hero. I don't want to gender bias being a hero and that's what I believe in."
I Was Tagged A Reason To Bring Bad Luck To Films Just Because A Couple Of Them Didn't Do Well
Recently, Taapsee's post on the Facebook page of Humans Of Bombay went viral where she opened up about how she was labelled 'iron leg' after delivering few flop films and how a few actors in Bollywood refused to work with her because she wasn't an A-List actress.
When asked whether people's perception about her has changed now, Taapsee replied, "I didn't ask them if it has changed or not. But, I am hoping it has now considering my films are doing well. (laughs) It has happened not here, but down the south. I just felt very sad about it. There are a lot of other girls also who go through that. There are a bunch of media people and industry people who called me that. Imagine a girl who comes from a Delhi family, who has never even heard the native language or been in that culture of the South. She decides to come down and give it all she has. I did all of that. It's just that a couple of films didn't do well, I was tagged as a reason to bring bad luck to the films. How devastating is it for a girl to hear that! It's sad what people did to me.
Today, I am in a position where I can voice these things and talk about it. People will listen to me so I used that platform to tell people to at least not do that to a girl ever because that destroys you from inside. Thankfully, I wasn't someone who also wanted to be an actor. Imagine a girl who also wanted to be an actress and ends up hearing that she is a sheer bad luck...she is simply a superstition in the industry and not an actor! How devastated would that girl be in a different land? My advice is don't do that because someday or the other the tables will turn and I am sure you wouldn't want to be in that position."