Taapsee Pannu is back in the courtroom. Unlike her previous, super-successful, Pink, where she was the defendant, in the film Mulk, which releases on Friday, August 3, she dons the lawyer's coat.
Highly articulate and unhurried Taapsee comes across as a very clear-headed person, without any fear of speaking her mind. Very much like the characters she has played on-screen. She says, “It is time to get back to the original definition of the country when we learnt about the fact that India is a socialist, secular, sovereign, democratic republic and over a period of time, we just saw that we keep fighting over religion.”
“In spite of being concerned about the basic needs day in and day out, we are more bothered about religion. Something is not just fitting right in the definition of all these terms that we learnt in our school about our country. So, I think that the definition of patriotism and nationalism need to be set right and it is high time now,” she added.
Elaborating on her role in the film, the software-engineer-turned model-turned actress said, “Mulk is a courtroom drama. I am a lawyer in this film. I play the character called Aarti Mohammad. She is a Hindu girl married to a Muslim man and they are settled in London. One fine day, when she is visiting her in-laws in India at Benaras (Varanasi), one particular incident happens that one member of the family is involved in a terrorist activity. He goes away but his entire family is held responsible and is accused of that terrorist activity. At that moment, this girl decides to stand up for her in-laws and defend the case in a court of law. She uses her profession to help this family out of this trouble. This is the basic idea.”
Director of the film Anubhav Sinha has tried his hand on the sensitive topic of the Hindu-Muslim divide in the country and the way to handle it. The movie has also raised several pertinent questions.
“This film will raise those questions that will make you all think. You (audience) will be the judge of this courtroom drama. You will think about your prejudice in your head, which you need to get rid of,” said Taapsee about the message that is being conveyed through the film.
Tapsee has worked with veteran and powerful actors of the Bollywood including Rishi Kapoor, Ashutosh Rana, Neena Gupta and Rajat Kapoor in the film. Speaking about the experience, she said, “It did feel quite intimidating. I think that it was the most intimidating role of my career because when six cameras are rolling, even when I am familiar with the courtroom set up, but these six cameras are rolling on me as a lawyer this time when I was fighting a case against someone, like Ashutosh Rana with people Rishi Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Rajat Kapoor, all standing there in the katghara (witness-box) or probably sitting there. So, it was quite intimidating.”
Revealing that she enjoys the pressure of working alongside great actors, Taapsee said, “These guys are quite good and everybody knows that they are good actors. Even when I stand there, I was conscious of the fact that not a single note should go wrong otherwise I will stand out like a sore thumb. That will put you in a lot of pressure. But, honestly I enjoyed that pressure.”
"When I put myself in uncomfortable situation is when something interesting or something new comes out from me. You can start playing in comfort zone and I don’t think that something new or exciting can come out,” she added.
Taapsee does not plan anything and takes life as it comes along, making the best of it. She said, “My life is surely about taking the opportunity as it comes without any planning because whatever I have planned in my life, it has never worked. So, I decided to make sure that to make the best of every opportunity that will come in way.”
Speaking about her journey from a Delhi girl to an acclaimed actress, she said, “When I was trying to study MBA, I got the opportunity to act and I took it up as a past time. It was a new learning thing that turned into a beautiful debut. The debut was itself was so well received and in such an acclaimed film even though it started from South. Then, I started thinking; let’s figure this out – figure about acting, and figure about language.”
“While, I was doing that, I suddenly, with no preparation whatsoever, no anticipation of any sort, got an opportunity to work in Hindi films. Whenever I have given my best in the film someone or the other, be it directors and the producers have noticed and given me another opportunity. So, it’s all because of the ripple effect. That’s how it went.”
Considering Taapsee's success in Tamil, Malayalam, Telegu and Hindi films places her uniquely as an actress who will find favour with Singapore's very diverse Indian diaspora.
When asked about how a Hindi speaking girl adapted and overcame the language barriers and become successful in three Southern states, she revealed that she learned things right from scratch and gave 100 per cent.
“I always give my 100 per cent. So, when the opportunity came to do a film from the South, I told them upfront that I am sorry, I don’t know how to act, I have never acted in a play in my life. I don’t know the language and even have heard it. They said that don’t worry, we will teach you,” said Taapsee.
Detailing about the learning process, she said, “I jumped into it with full faith and trust and putting myself in the hands of people who gave me the debut. I always kept my mind-to take in whatever they wanted me to learn. Because I knew that I don’t know anything I was even more receptive of everything around- be it hearing people talk in a language, my co-actors perform, my director telling me how it was to be done- all the activities that happens on the set,. I was ready to learn from scratch. I think that really helped me- be it a keen learner, or the people started observing that she is quick and develop the skills over a period of time.”
Trailers of Mulk does show that she has given the movie her best yet again. Its success will be the perfect gift for Taapsee Pannu in her birthday month.