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Taapsee Pannu. It's not just her name which is unconventional; somewhere in midst of our conversation, the actress admits that she prefers to live her life on the edge. Mind you, she's far away from giving diplomatic answers and would rather call 'a spade a spade'. But that's exactly what makes her refreshingly different from the current crop of leading ladies.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête with Filmibeat, Taapsee bares her heart about pay parity in Bollywood, why a film like Judwaa 2 ends up in her filmography, about still having to struggle to get the kind of films she wants to do and of course, Soorma.
'I Was Slight Guilt-Ridden That I Had No Idea About Sandeep Singh
Q. From Judwaa 2 to Dil Junglee to now Soorma, how has the switching over to different characters been for you?
A. Actually Dil Junglee happened to me before Pink. It's just that it got released really late. So for me, the correct order actually was Dil Junglee, Pink, Naam Shabana, Judwaa 2 and then Soorma. Talking about switching over of characters, once I did one thing, it worked. I got a sense of direction about what was working for me. Then I did another film which worked and it gave me more confidence.
When Soorma came to me, I had this hunger of playing a sportsperson because I really love sports. So, this film gave me a chance to do that. Plus, I was slightly guilt-ridden because being a sports enthusiast and lover, I had no idea about Sandeep Singh. So, that was kind of hurtful. To get rid of that guilt, I wanted to be a part of vehicle who will convey the story to the country. So, this is how I have taken up this film.
'Perfumes Don't Trigger My Emotions'
Q. Every character which you play on-screen comes up with its own method. Ranbir Kapoor recently said that he uses a different perfume for every character that he plays. Vidya Balan too admitted doing the same..
A. Even Richa (Chadha) does that! I also switch my perfumes but not because of my character. It's just that I like to change my perfume for every film because it gets finished and I don't want to use the same perfume (laughs). It's just that. Perfume doesn't trigger my emotions.
I don't have a method. I just make sure that I do one film at a time so that I can give it all I have and then get out of it. So when I am going into it, I got method in a way that I fall in love with my cast and crew. I start making friends with them. I spend a lot of time with them. As an actor, all inhibitions are lost when you become comfortable with your cast and crew. That's all I do and then I leave it to the hands of the director to mold me and make sure that whatever I am doing is in the right way. So, that's my method.
'I Did A Film Like Judwaa 2 Not Because I Loved The Storyline Or My Character In It'
Q. Your filmography boosts of names like Pink, Judwaa 2 and your platter is now full of diverse films like Mulk, Badla. Do you have a certain criteria when it comes to picking up scripts or do you just let it flow organically?
A. When it comes to doing Judwaa 2 or any film of that sort which I will do in future, it's purely for capturing B and C centres and to give a breather in between the kind of films that I am doing. It won't be because I loved the storyline or because I loved the character. I want to reach out to larger audience. But the other films which I do, the criteria for choosing them is when I listen or read the script, do I feel it's worth spending hard-earned 200 rupees or is it just the same redundant thing which we see in every film? Will I walk out of the theatre with my character's impression in my head? Will I carry that character back home or is it just so frivolous that it just dies there in the film? I have all these thoughts.
'The Day My Film Opens As Big As A Male Counterpart, I Will Demand & Get The Same Salary As Him'
Q. Pay parity is being discussed a lot in Bollywood these days. Alia Bhatt recently said she can't expect same amount of money invested in her film as Varun Dhawan's. Meanwhile, there are various reports floating in about you hiking your remuneration fee...
A. I should have hiked my fee naa? You can say I probably have but not as steep as my male counterparts because I think it's fair. I am not saying they work harder than me. No, I work equally hard too. Payment is not based on that. It's on the basis of how much money your film makes. At the end of the day, it's business. If the producers are not making money on the films which I am doing then there's no point in taking me. So, the day my film opens as big as a male counterpart's, I will demand and get the same salary as him. Till then, I cannot ask for that because if I am still relying on word of mouth and reviews for the audience to walk into the theatres to watch my films, it means I don't have a star value right now. If you see a lot of male protagonists films, they just open up humongously. So, that's the clear reason behind this parity and that will exist fairly enough till the time we don't have equal openings.
Q. Last year, you made a statement that you don't consider yourself an A-lister in Bollywood. Is it still the same?
A. Yes, I don't still consider myself an A-lister. I still have to struggle to get the kind of films I want to do or the filmmakers I want to work with. I still struggle to get through them. I still get replaced in films. I still don't consider myself a star because I feel it's not yet that audience goes to watch a film because it stars Taapsee Pannu. The day all these things happen, I will consider myself an A-lister and a star.
'I Still Lose Films Because Of Recommendations & Favoritism'
Q. If you had to change one thing about the film industry, what would that be?
A. That would be, which I feel is slowly changing but still needs to go a long way, is that you get a role on the basis of what you deserve and not on the basis of recommendations. That has changed quite a bit otherwise I wouldn't have been where I am. It's not like I am cribbing or complaining about it. But I still lose films because of recommendations and favoritism. I hope that changes soon.
'I Like To Live On The Edge'
Q. Finally, you said that you never planned to be an actress. It just happened to you. From that point till today, how would you sum up your journey?
A. It's been a merry-go-round or you can say a roller-coaster. I probably wanted it that way because that's why I jumped into a career which I never thought of or had an idea or wanted to. I just like adventure in life. I think I like to live on the edge. So, that's why I am here. I have no security or surety about this career even now. Even now, I worry whether I will get films in future or how my films will fare. I still have that discomfort. But I think I am enjoying that. That's what the rule of the game is for me,