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'I'm more than just a glamorous doll'

Last updated on: February 8, 2011 10:11 IST

'I'm more than just a glamorous doll'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Taapsee Pannu made a rather glamorous debut with the Telugu film Jhummandi Naadam directed by K Raghavendra Rao, where she was paired opposite Manoj Manchu.

She went on to do a de-glamourised role of an Anglo Indian girl in the Tamil film Adukalam directed by Vettrimaaran where she shared screen space with Dhanush.

Having proved herself in glam and non-glam roles, Taapsee now is acting in her second Telugu film Vasthaadu Naa Raju helmed by Hemant Madhukar where she stars opposite Vishnu Manchu.

In this exclusive interview she waxes eloquent about Vasthaadu Naa Raju. Excerpts:

Vasthaadu Naa Raju is a mass entertainer. Is that why you sign it?

It was the script. In fact the character is ordinary but it's the storyline -- how the character moves with the story -- which made me sign it.

This film is directed by a debutant Hemant Madhukar. How did it feel to be directed by a newcomer?

Raghavendra Rao garu is a legend who directed me first. So it was a refreshing change to work with a newcomer. Hemant has done a Hindi film A Flat before. Vasthaadu Naa Raju was a second film for both of us. He used to explain the scenes and the dialogues and gave me total freedom. He believed that I could carry off the role. It was fun to live up to those expectations. I had the freedom to think and do it on my own. It was a deliberate attempt to prove myself too.

I heard that people were in awe of my glamour in Jhummandi Naadam but they didn't notice my performance. Vasthaadu Naa Raju is the answer to those people who think I can do only glamour roles. It will show what variety roles I can do. I am waiting for the response.


Image: Taapsee in Vasthaadu Naa Raju

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'I'm always telling Vishnu that he can be the next Ambani'

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The film is supposed to be a romantic comedy. What's your role in it?

Yeah, it has all the elements. Since Vishnu plays a boxer, there are boxing fights. It's a family entertainer with action, comedy, love and drama. Love is shown in a different way. Half the movie passes without the hero and heroine not knowing each other. When they are in love, they are not together as there are situational goof-ups.

I play a normal Telugu, middle-class city girl brought up by her elder brother. They don't have parents. There are no negative characters; it's only the situations. Prakash Raj, who plays my brother, does certain things which he thinks is right for his sister but actually is not. 

What do you have to say about Vishnu?

Vishnu is a fabulous businessman and entrepreneur. I'm always telling him that he can be the next Ambani. One can learn from the way his brain works. Also, one can learn how to handle people, situations, money etc from him. Since I knew him before, he was sweet and cordial. In fact, I felt Vasthaadu Naa Raju was a continuation of Jhummandi Naadam because it was another brother and most of the production people, director of photography (Gopal Reddy) were the same.


Image: A scene from Jhummandi Naadam

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'My Telugu has improved a lot'

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How does it feel after doing two films in the Telugu industry?

The third (Mr Perfect) is almost complete. I have also started my fourth, Veera. I feel like I have been here for a long time. I am happily settled and comfortable, and don't see myself moving out.

Has your Telugu improved?

Yes, a lot. I talk to my staff in Telugu. I pick up dialogues even if they are given to me in the morning!

You are the brand ambassador of the Telugu Cricket team for the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL). What made you take it up?

The Telugu industry gave me the first break even though Adukalam (Tamil) was the first film I signed. The response was unbelievable in Telugu. I got the treatment which heroines get after doing many films. As a mark of gratitude and matter of pride, I decided to be the ambassador when Vishnu asked me.


Image: Taapsee in Jhummandi Naadam

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'I was scared of Mammootty initially'

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What would your role entail?

I would have to be formally present at the media declaration for dress code and in matches too.

Are you doing any Tamil film?

I am doing Vandaan Vendraan with actor Jiiva directed by Kannan. I also did the Malayalam film, Doubles with Mammootty and Nadia directed by Sohan Seenulal which I shot in Pondicherry.

How was it acting with Mammootty and Nadia?

He's a senior actor and his shelf is full of National awards. I was scared of him initially. Everything was new to me. I had no clue about anything. So when he asked me, 'Are you scared?', I didn't have an answer. Then he sat down and talked to me. He made me feel at ease. He was helpful whenever the dialogues had to be said. He would help in voice modulation and expression as well. I am blessed that I started my career with the top most people technicians/actors/director in all the industries. It is really nice. Nadia too is a nice person and we spoke to each other. A day's shoot is left for the film which I will complete shortly.


Image: Taapsee in Jhummandi Naadam

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'I am catching up on Tamil'

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What's the character you are playing in Vandaan Vendraan?

She's a mature architect on the lookout for a job and wants to be on her own. She talks a lot. I am catching up on Tamil.

Adukalam was critically acclaimed. You received appreciation and accolades for your portrayal of Irene. How does it feel to get all these compliments?

I knew it was going to come even though I was hesitant because the movie was releasing along with two big movies -- Vijay's Kaavalan and Karthi's Siruthai. Vijay-Asin, Karthi-Tamannah were the pairs and I thought my pairing with Dhanush was the underdog. People's eyes were on me. I was scared and tense.

Now I am happy that Adukalam has done well and the character has stood out. Actually both the films -- Adukalam and Jhummandi Naadam -- were to released simultaneously. I had both glamorous and critical roles side-by-side. But, Adukalam came after Jhummandi Naadam and now I know that I'll not be known just as a glamorous doll. In Adukalam there was no hairstyling, no makeup, no designer clothes, no dancing; everything was natural including the look and acting.

Image: Taapsee in Jhummandi Naadam

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