Taapsee Pannu, who was last seen as a hockey player in Soorma, will next play an activist-lawyer in Anubhav Sinha’s hard-hitting Mulk, an indictment of the Indian Muslim’s plight in the present political scenario.
Taapsee feels Mulk is a story that has to be told. “I play a Hindu woman married to a Muslim man. I am named Aarti Mohammed. We made sure that my identity was right up there in your face. In real life, I am not a political person at all. I barely read the headlines of newspapers. But, I can sense we’re going through a political crisis. A part of the population doesn’t feel safe at all. Mulk addresses that issue headlong. I am proud of the director Anubhav Sinha for taking on the issue so fearlessly. Every day, he is getting threats. But, he is determined to see this through, come what may. All artistes must take a stand. Since I can’t be a politician I have to express my unhappiness with what is happening through cinema.”
Taapsee Pannu was an important part of Annirudh Roychoudhary’s Pink, a film that addressed itself to the question of rape. “That was subject I knew about. But here in Mulk, I discovered the truth about the imbalances in the social structure that disturbed me a lot. In school, we learnt about constitutional rights, about justice equality and secularism. But these qualities don’t seem to govern our lives any more. So either we were taught the wrong lessons in school or there’s something seriously wrong with the politics of our country.”
Taapsee feels it is time activists stopped looking at empowerment as a gender issue. “When we speak of empowerment, why is it only about women? There are so many sections of our society that are weak and persecuted. I don’t want to be the voice of only one particular gender. I want to use my voice to raise awareness for other weak sections of our society.”
In her forthcoming release Badla directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Taapsee gets together with one of her favourite co-stars again. “I am very fond of Mr Bachchan. We hit it off during Pink. Now in Badla, we are having a ball. I don’t let my respect for him come in the way of treating him like a buddy. In fact, I’d like to take him out for an evening of fun.”
Badla is a completely different world from Pink.
Says Taapsee Pannu, “In Pink, I was a victim. Here I am a hard-as-nails businesswoman. Then there is Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan. Not a typical dark Kashyap film. Though in the realistic space it is a different world for the director from the one he usually occupies. After Running Shaadi and Soorma, I again play a Sikh woman. I guess North Indian characters render themselves to a more colourful interpretation on screen.”
Speaking of Sardarnis, Taapsee is very proud of Soorma, “My character was semi-fictional. Though the hockey player Sandeep Singh did have a girlfriend for whom he started playing hockey she dropped out of the picture after he was disabled. We couldn’t show the truth. So we kind of tweaked my character.”
Taapsee Pannu realizes she seems to be playing rugged characters all the time. “So the one thing I’d like to do is to play a coy demure girl once just to show I can do that convincingly.”