How and when did Haseen Dillruba fall into your lap?
I said yes to Haseen Dillruba almost immediately. It was a not-so-simple story and I loved it. I had worked in writer Kanika Dhillon’s screenplay Manmarziyan. Haseen Dillruba was like Mamarziyan with infidelity and murder. I told Kanika I wanted to hear the story. Then I had to go for an outdoor shooting. She told me she would narrate the subject to me after I returned.
“I am thankful to the actresses who said no to Haseen Dillruba” – Taapsee Pannu
What happened after that?
By the time I came back I came to know the offer had already gone to someone else. I moved on to other projects. A few months later Kanika called me to come to her office urgently. The last time she asked me to come to her office it was to narrate Manmarziyan. I had this big smile on my face when she narrated me Haseen Dillruba. When you want something really badly the universe conspires to get it for you. Haseen Dillruba went around and then came to me. I am thankful to the actresses who said no playing Rani Kashyap.
Weren’t you shocked by how far your character Rani Kashyap goes in pursuit of personal gratification?
I think it’s a very interesting dichotomy. Because Rani looks like a typical conventional heroine. She loves to dress up in traditional chiffon sarees and salwar kameez every day in her sasural. I don’t think I’ve spent so much time getting ready every day for any film. Rani has worked in a salon. So she is very conscious about her grooming. In her looks she is a typical heroine.
But she is anything but typical?
Yes, her behaviour is definitely not that of a typical heroine. I actually began to gravitate away from the stereotypical representation of the heroine long back. I found myself a bigger playground to play around in as actress. The characters I choose to play are far removed from the person that I am. That I suppose is the fun of being an actor. You can live many lives in one lifetime, right?
Right, but your character in Haseen Dillruba is next-level unconventional?
The whole excitement of putting myself out of my comfort zone is what gravitated me towards Haseen Dillruba. I never thought I’d play a seductress like Rani, a woman who uses her sexuality to her own advantage. This character has brought out a side of my personality I never knew existed.
But didn’t Rani’s behaviour shock you?
You asking me, Taapsee? Yes, I am not that person I play in Haseen Dillruba. You will rarely find me in the grey zone. Rani’s behaviour is a big no for me. Infidelity is definitely not in my range of acceptable behaviour. I would never accept or condone it in my own life. Having said that, I must also say that it’s not as though I am not aware that these things happen in real life. If we are honest to ourselves we are aware of quite a few such breached relationships where crime surfaces later. So yes, as Taapsee I was shocked. But as an actor I didn’t find it difficult to accept my character Rani’s behaviour. I was also shocked by Rani’s reaction to her own infidelity. It’s such a shameful thing; one would normally sweep it under the carpet. But Rani is such an honest person. When she develops an extra-marital relationship she is determined to tell her husband about it. And she does.
How many women would do that?
Exactly. Rani feels she must be true to her feelings. It’s not her intention to have a closeted extra-marital relationship. She’s very honest about her needs and desires with her husband. And when she’s disappointed in her marriage she has an extra-marital affair. This is not something she had planned. But when it happens she doesn’t shy away from the truth. She is ready to leave her husband for her lover. All this made the character quite shocking for me.
Is Rani in Haseen Dillruba the nastiest heroine you have played?
I am not too sure, because I had played a really nasty woman in Badlaa. Just because she was suave she didn’t come across as in-your-face wicked. But I think in Naina in Badlaa is nastier. Rani is more honest and she’s probably the most flamboyant character I’ve portrayed.
Do you miss the big screen for Haseen Dillruba?
Of course I do. You have seen the film. You know the visuals are designed for the movie theatre. It has in fact all the ingredients to travel to beyond the so-called A centres. It’s very gripping. We were very confident that the content will travel. We waited as long as we could. If we waited any longer the product may lose its validity. I’ve so many other film nearing completed. How long could we wait?
Do you enjoy watching content on OTT platform?
It has a reach, no doubt about it. I watch a lot of content on OTT. I watch all the films which are being premiered on OTT.
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