She is chirpy, but talks sense; she is a software engineer, but is leaving no stone unturned to make her mark in the Indian film industry; when you knock on her vanity van’s door between shots, she’s nice enough to ditch her sleep and turn the charm on for an interview — she’s Taapsee Pannu, Punjabiyat redefined.
Having done more than a dozen Tollywood films and one Bollywood film, Taapsee chooses to clear the air about her Punjabi background. “I belong to an upper-middle class Sikh family and trace my roots to Ludhiana. My parents studied in schools where they didn’t get to learn Punjabi, so they made sure that I studied the language. Hence, I studied at Mata Jai Kaur Public School, Delhi. Mere ghar wale aise hain ki theatre me ja ke picture bhi nahi dekhte! I was the most studious one in the family; my CAT percentile was 88%, but I couldn’t get admission in the best colleges of Delhi or Mumbai. That’s when I happened to do a few advertisements down South, as I was already into modelling during engineering. My dad still manages my finances though. I have to take money from him to shop for myself,” shares she.
The two Tamil and Telegu films that Taapsee signed simultaneously were national award winning Adhikalam (with Dhanush) and Jhummandi Naadam, respectively. “Before any of my films released, I had already signed three films. After Chashme Baddoor (2013), I was called for a meeting, after 15 minutes of which, I was handed the script for RunningShaadi.com. My character, Nimrat Kaur AKA Nimmi, is a typical sardarni, who is very much like me. Ghar pe papa ji ke saamne muh nahi khulta, but when she goes out, she is nothing less than a sherni. In the film, Amit (Sadh) and I open a website that helps lovers elope and get married.”
For Taapsee, however, luck has played a pivotal role. “I consider myself lucky, because I got everything I wanted very easily. If I had to struggle for these films, I probably wouldn’t have done them. The struggle — to constantly prove myself — started after my first film,” says she.
With a house in Hyderabad and parents in Delhi, Taapsee is now looking at buying a ‘crib’ in Mumbai. “I have a set plan, where I have kept a few years aside for films. Jo seedhi upar chadd rahi hun, I will come down the same way; whether it takes 10 years or 15. I don’t think of myself as a celebrity. I still enjoy my Delhi life. This plan was weaved when I realised that it’s very difficult to live a celeb’s life. I love my work, but someday, it will take a turn and I will settle abroad.”
That’s why, Taapsee says she takes each step consciously. “I don’t want to be cast into an image. The day I realise that there is no space left for me in the industry, I will exit gracefully. You won’t see me doing any ‘mummy’ or ‘bhabhi’ roles. I don’t want to copy or follow anyone. When Nimmi’s role came my way, I knew everybody would compare it to Kareena’s Geet in Jab We Met, but I’m making sure I do this right, my way,” says Taapsee.
Amidst everything, the girl has learnt a few lessons that she is happy about. “The industry has taught me to control my temper. Muh pe smile rakhna, even if you are going through a lot in life, can take you places,” she shares.
As clichéd as it sounds, we ask her if she plans to join Pollywood. She says, “I have already done films in three languages. Right now, I don’t want to do a Punjabi film. Later, I might do one just for fun, not as a well thought-out career move. Bollywood actors are entering Punjabi film industry probably because they don’t have work left in Bollywood. That’s not how I plan to go about it.”