With films such as The Namesake, Chandni Bar, Maqbool and Haider to her credit, Tabu is undoubtedly one of the finest performers of her generation, but the actor says becoming a star was never on her agenda. The 45-year-old actor, who even did an offbeat film like Maachis in the initial days of her career, says she decided to carve her own path in films as she never wanted to be pigeonholed. Excerpts from an interview:
You have built a varied filmography. It seems you always opted for variety instead of trying to get at the top in the movie business.
I was always passionate about my work. I wanted to show people what I am as an actor. I did not join the film industry with an ambition to become famous or popular. I am a very private person. I don’t like so much attention. The whole phenomenon of fame throws me off guard. In this whole madness, I find something that I can hold onto, enjoy and that is doing different roles. Luckily I met people like Gulzar ji, Rajeev Menon and others who made my journey interesting. For me, the only interesting part is when I am into a character and growing with every film. The Namesake changed my life, it opened new doors and then (there was) Life Of Pi. It was all a great experience. I wanted to play it my way, I was convinced if I do it my way I will get it right. I hated it when people told me to do what others were doing.
Do you pick light-hearted films for monetary reasons or for friendships and content-driven projects to satisfy your hunger as an artiste?
I don’t know about other actors. If at that given point I feel if I like it, I do it. I don’t think anything else then. As an actor, you are not creating roles for yourself. I make the best choice from what is offered to me or what will push me to the next level. No one will do a film if they are unhappy with their role. The fundamental thing should be happiness to play a role, whether you are doing it for monetary reasons or for friendship, it does not matter… No one does bad work for the sake of friendship or money.
Every film you do, you stand out. How do you manage to do that with each project?
I don’t make a conscious effort to stand out. It is great that people feel so. It happens unconsciously. I don’t know what the factors are that people think of me like that. At different points, you have different yardsticks and barometers to select a project and it also depends on what you are offered, what you want to do at that point and what you want to stay away from. It is a mix of many factors. Films are something that no one can plan. If I like something, I feel the character is outstanding and it will allow me to explore my creative abilities, I do it.
Would it be right to say that you are the dark horse of Bollywood?
I can’t put labels on and give definitions to myself… that is for others to write or say. I am glad that I got the right platform to reinvent myself and do something different every time. I did not let go of the chances that I got. I am grateful to the directors for offering me great roles. I give credit to the writers for writing such good parts. I was exploring myself again and again. I did parts that one would not do. I wanted to grow as an actor. I am lucky to get good work that established me as an actor and made me the dark horse.