After making her mark in films like Pink, Runningshaadi.com and The Ghazi Attack, actress Taapsee Pannu is again in the new for her most-awaited next film, Naam Shabana. Pannu, who is being applauded for her different look and fight sequences in the film, looks set to once again steal the show.
While promoting her film in Delhi, the actress spoke to Guardian 20 about her intense character in the film.
Q. After Pink, Naam Shabana is your most-awaited film, which is a spin-off of the film Baby. Could you tell us about your character?
A. India is pretty new in terms of showing spin-offs. It’s the first ever spin-off in India. Hollywood makes spin-offs quite regularly. The film is about the making of a spy and my character is from an area like Bhindi Bazaar in Mumbai. And if you compare it with Delhi, it would be like a girl from Chandni Chowk. She has a very regular middle class life but she has certain characteristics which make people spot her. And why is she spotted? For this you have to watch the film. Her sixth sense is very strong, her reaction timings are good, and she is very athletic, like in the way she moves around. And these reasons lead to her selection, and why she wants to do it and why she’s agreed to be a spy is an important part of the film.
Q. You look serious in the trailer. So, how did you manage to get that intense look?
A. I am the complete opposite of Shabana. I talk a lot, and I love to express a lot. I think it’s majorly because of my directors. In this case, we had Neeraj Sir (Neeraj pandey) along with Shivam Sir (Shivam Nair) who somehow fed me with the information. I can be very easily molded in front of a camera. If you see my previous films, say Pink, I am not that intense and helpless also. So, when my director feeds my head, then I transform myself. Even when I saw the intense look in the trailers even I began to wonder how I had reached it during the shooting process. I couldn’t recognise myself. Her character is very intense. She is scanning everything and noticing whatever is happening around her. I take everything by face value and don’t bother what is happening around. I had to think like a spy, and every movement and shot had to be transformed to bring out the spy.
Q. So, is it a revenge story?
A.It’s not a revenge story. If you ask the whole story, it’s about the making of a spy in all possible ways. It’s about a girl and why she chooses to do it and how she will do it and how she becomes a part of it. So, there are different layers to the story and that you will see in the film, and I do not want to give a spoiler by telling you that layer.
Q. What were the major challenges while playing this character?
A.Yes, the physical training was among the major challenges. I am not a person for whom things like martial arts and hitting a person and violence comes easy. I can’t even stand violence in real life. And, I haven’t even slapped a person in real. To learn this kind of martial arts which can be pretty deadly to use was very challenging. It was very difficult in beginning but I had started this training with Baby itself, so I was continuing after that. But it gradually intensified about 3-4 months before the shooting started. And I was being trained in three types of martial arts. So, that part of it was extremely grilling. I loved the sport side of it but when it came to hitting people, I used to ask people to wear protection gears. I had that psychological block in my head that if the person is bare, he can get hurt. And in this film, all fights are hand-to-hand combats. It’s a very real, believable fight. I got intimidated and I was really scared. I had a huge mental block and it was tough for me to get over that. I hope people love this character and film.
Q. What was it like to work with your co-actors: Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpayyee?
A. One wonderful thing about this entire stretch with Baby and now the Naam Shabana team is that they have a great sense of humour. It is very sarcastic, but an amazing sense of humour. It was a laugh riot whenever we were together. Someone or the other would be saying something which would be very hilarious and it would not be like a typical joke. One thing I liked a lot was talking to Anupam Sir and Manoj Sir, and I hope this franchise becomes really big and we keep meeting each other because we have an amazing time when we get together.