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This article was first published 11 years ago

'Not sure I can kiss convincingly on screen'

Last updated on: March 11, 2013 16:47 IST

Image: Taapsee Pannu
Patcy N in Mumbai
Taapsee Pannu, the bubbly lead actress of Chashme Baddoor may have found a dream debut in the David Dhawan film.
The actress, who's worked in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam films before foraying in Hindi films, is the only female lead in the comedy caper that also stars Ali Zafar, Divyendu Sharma and Siddharth. 
Interestingly for someone who's come a long way in films, Taapsee hails from a non-filmi background.

The bubbly actress tells Patcy N how a girl from a middle-class family that never even went out to watch films became a film actress and found a firm footing in a foreign land. 
Did you get any Hindi film offers before Chashme Baddoor?
The only good offer that came my way was Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap. There were new directors, new actors, new production houses who approached me but I really didn't want to do their films.
Why did you say no to Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap?
I had date problems, like in February they asked me for dates in March, which was impossible for a person like me who is working on four movies back-to-back.

'I was happy about doing a remake because it's a tried and tested formula'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
So how did Chashme Baddoor come to you?
Puri sir (Puri Jagannath) who was directing Buddha Hoga Tera Baap for Viacom suggested my name to them as Viacom were also looking for a girl for Chashme Baddoor. 

Viacom forwarded my pictures to David (Dhawan). He met me, we got the photo shoot done and I was signed on for this film.

Were you apprehensive about working on a remake?
In fact I was happy that I was doing a remake and not a new script because it was a tried and tested formula that had worked well with audiences before. 

With a few changes to suit the present generation, it's highly likely that the film will work this time too.
But your character in the movie is completely changed?
Yes, that's what suits the present generation.

If I had come in a sari, coyly selling Chamko (Chamko deterrgent powder that Deepti Naval sells in the original) today, nobody would accept me.

Those were the necessary changes to be made.

'The original Chashme Buddoor was a little slow for me'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
Have you seen the original Chashme Buddoor? How did you like it?
Yes, after I got the offer to do this film I did watch the original film.
That was a film that worked at that time. For a person like me, who is used to seeing movies that are made now, it was a beautiful, sweet movie everybody can relate to. But it was a little slow. So we changed that and we feel it will work.

With so many youngsters on the sets, what was the atmosphere like?
Every day was a dhamaal. It never felt like we were shooting. Every morning everybody would come in their costumes but nobody was told what their scene was going to be. We were given dialogues and we would go through that once. Then we were thrown in front of the camera and said 'do what you want to do'. 

We had to just make David sir laugh. It was a laugh riot. No stress. We finished well within the time frame. 
I have done 10 (south Indian) movies before Chashme Buddoor in a language that I didn't know. So when you do a movie in the language you know, it's a cake walk. 

I felt like I was on holiday in Goa shooting with stars, talking in Hindi, just being myself in front of the camera. It was just the perfect holiday for me. The only solid memory that I will have of this film was that I never felt I was working.

'We just blindly followed David sir'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
There were three men on the sets. How did they treat you?
They had no option but to treat me well as I was the only woman on the sets.
Ali being a shy guy didn't really speak much; it takes time for him to open up. He speaks very well with that Pakistani tehzeeb, it is so sweet and cordial. He speaks good Punjabi and his Hindi has an Urdu touch to it. 

I knew Siddharth before we started shooting. I haven't worked with him in any south films but he is pretty comfortable to work with. He is a senior actor so I learnt a lot from him
Divyendu is from New Delhi, like me, so I shared a good comfort zone with him. We hit it off really well because of that.
I had a different chemistry with all of them for different reasons. But what was important was that I managed to individually.

David Dhawan doesn't give you a bound script. Govinda once said till the film is ready you don't know what the story is, and which scene will be where...
Exactly. He is an editor first before a director so he knows exactly where he is going to cut. 

Obviously, he was the star of our movie; he was the person with most experience. We just left everything to him. He told us this is the scene, this is what you have to do, and we would do it and he would keep shooting from whatever angles he wanted to shoot. 

We just blindly followed him. He would give us complete freedom to emote, express and act the way we wanted. There was no bound script that we had to learn anything.

David sir would also be having fun, so much fun that he would sometimes land up in front of the camera without knowing it!

'We didn't really kiss, we faked it with camera angles'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
Was there any scene that was very difficult for you to shoot?
No, but on the very first day I shot with Ali and it was a kissing scene. This was the first time I had met all three of them on the sets. David sir put me with Ali on the sets and said, 'this is a kissing scene! And that it is the most important and romantic scene in the movie!'

And here I was, meeting Ali for the first time so it was really awkward for both of us. Ali being a shy person we were waiting to break the ice and speak to each other. I decided to start yapping the way I do always, and we slowly eased out and gave the shot. But that was pretty funny.

Is it difficult and awkward to shoot a kissing scene in front of so many people?
This particular scene was not, because we didn't really kiss, we faked it with camera angles. I haven't done kissing scenes as yet in any of my south films because I am not sure I can really carry it off convincingly.

I won't say I will not do it. I never say never. I will do it when I feel comfortable doing it in front of the camera.

'I am having fun thinking about link-up with Varun Dhawan'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
People are linking you with David Dhawan's son Varun Dhawan...
It's a very funny and I still laugh about it. Do I really have to clear the air? I am having fun thinking about it. 

Varun and I met on the sets once when we were shooting in Goa. After that we bumped into each other in the Marriot (hotel) lobby. Since we knew each other, we sat together and had a chat over a cup of coffee. Someone took our snap and the pictures were all over the place. 

Just having coffee with someone means there is something going on between them? We had a good laugh about it and so did David sir.
Do these things happen in down South as well?
No, not really. I have gone out with my co-stars for lunch and dinner and nobody has clicked a snap and written about it. At the most you will be linked with that star, but pictures won't be all over the place.  

'My father was very afraid I's give up studies'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
Tell us about yourself. Are you from Punjab?
No I am not. I am from Delhi. My parents were born and brought up in Delhi. My grandparents are from Punjab, and I am a sardarni (Sikh). 

I belong to a middle-class family. My father works in a real estate company -- he handles the finance of the company. My mother is a housewife. I have a younger sister who is appearing for her 10th board exams at present. 

My family has nothing to with films or media; they are not even the kind who will go to a theatre to watch a film but they do watch whatever is telecast on television. 

I am a B Tech graduate in computer science. It was a shock for the whole family when they heard that a girl who was good at studies decided to do something like this!
I did some modelling in my second year of college. Then I auditioned and got selected for Channel V's Get Gorgeous from Delhi. That gave me confidence to pursue a career in show business.
I got a proper portfolio done. Six months on, I tried for Miss India (where she won the Miss Fresh Face and Miss Beautiful Skin titles). I did all this in Delhi, because I was not allowed to go out of the city.
I was not even allowed to go out of the house after 8 pm. My father was afraid that I would give up studies though I assured him I would not. 

'I told my family to just give me a year to see where things stood'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
So when did acting in movies happen?

I completed my studies with distinction, doing some modelling along side. I did commercials down South and because of that I started getting a lot of movie offers there.

I got one or two Hindi offers too but they were not big enough to take up. I preferred going to the South where they offered me really big movies.
My first movie in Tamil (Aadukalam) won six national awards and my first film in Telugu (Jhummandi Naadam) was under the direction of K Raghvendra Rao. It was a big debut there and there was no looking back after that.
I told my family to just give me a year to do whatever I want to do. If it didn't work out, I could still do whatever they wanted me to do. 
In my third year of engineering I got a placement in Infosys through a campus interview. I didn't take it because 9 to 5 was not at all something that I wanted to do. Still, I accepted the appointment letter because I wanted to show it to my family and prove that I was capable of getting a job, but I just didn't want to do it.

You started with South films; was language a problem?
Language was a huge problem, but I knew what I was getting into, so I had my ears and eyes open. 

I was ready to learn from day one and that's the reason I picked up the language so fast that I dubbed for myself in my third movie.

'People have a weird notion that if you are an actress you are not educated enough'

Image: Taapsee Pannu
You have created an App for iPhone?
In my final year I had to submit a project. My professors were waiting to flunk me because I hardly attended classes as I was modelling or dancing -- I had my own dance group. I used to do public speaking and debates too so I was hardly in class. But I also did well in studies at the same time. 
When it comes to projects it is only in the hands of your professor. People normally buy the projects and give them in. My professor made sure that he saw us every day in the lab for two hours.
We were three in one group who had to make a project together. We decided to make something that he couldn't imagine we could do. We learnt a new language called objective C which was not in our curriculum. 

We made a project that was the first of its kind. It was called Fontswap. We made it in one year. The project was selected for university representation. It is there on Cydia and people are using it on iPhones.
My co-star Dhanush was using it on his iPhone one day and I told him I made this app. He said 'what bullshit, you are just kidding'. I showed him my name in the 'about tab'. He was completely surprised.
People have a weird notion that if you are an actress you are not educated enough, or you are obsessed with yourself. 

Yes, I am self-obsessed and I love myself, but that doesn't mean I don't have brains. In fact, every actor should be self-obsessed and love themselves, only then can they be actors.

'I get bored very fast'

Image: Tapsee Pannu
Why did you leave something like this to choose acting as a profession? Because it meant more money?
What I will earn in 20 years there I will earn it here in two years. Plus I am a person who gets bored very fast. I have no plans of working till the last breath of my life. I want to do different things every day, that's why I entered this industry. 

I want to work for a particular span of time and then when I am done with it I want to move out and do something else. I want to quit at the right time and do something else

So now you will shift base to Mumbai and do fewer South movies?

I will shift base after my second Hindi film.

As for doing less South films, it all depends on how many movies I get here in Bollywood. But I will continue doing Tamil and Telugu films.