I've gone where I didn't even think I'd be: Tabu
In a year where hit films were rare, she scored a double whammy with her performances in Mira Nair’s The Namesake and adman R Balki’s Cheeni Kum. With everyone from bloggers to K-Jo being impressed with her in 2007, she’s the sizzler of the moment. But instead of racing around in a frenzy of activity and making the most of this heightened popularity, Priya Pathiyan finds Tabu contentedly cooling her heels at home…
What films are you working on at the moment?
None! Most other actors would cash in on their popularity.
Especially after The Namesake and Cheeni Kum and all the hot directors wanting to work with you, is this reticence a good idea?
A great role is not the only thing which will drive me towards a film..there are several other things. How much further is a great role going to take me? I've gone where I didn't even think I'd be. Now, there's nowhere else to be. Because even when you get there - to that higher plane it's similar to this. So since I'm not in a rush to 'get somewhere', I prefer avoiding stress. I have to be happy with the entire set-up of a film.
Of course, if it's my friend's film, then I'll do it blindly, because I know I'll have a good time. But I won't bend over backwards for arrogant people and I won't put myself in stressful situations. I want happy, wholesome experiences.
And you're not compelled to work to fill up your time?
No. I'd do something good straightaway if it came up. But not just anything. Such choices come from insecurity and fear. Films where I've done that, I've not given them my everything, and not been happy in the end.
There has to be a balance between what I need and what I do. Every day is an adjustment to the reality around you. But I'd now do something that gave me at least, say, 80 per cent of what I want.
You'd be surprised. It's not just ordinary, it's even less than ordinary! I don't wake up early unless I'm shooting. For so many years, I used to wake up really early, do sunrise shots - the South films start shooting at 5 am.
Now, I don't do that unless I really have to. I spend the day exercising, meeting my friends and clicking photographs of people, mostly friends and family. Thanks to technology, I can now upload and share the photos with all of them.
What about writing poetry?
Ohhh… I don't write poetry at all! Someone fabricated that and everyone lands up believing it and asking me about it.
How do you deal with such made-up stories about you?
They make up stories about every one, na? Especially if you're in the public eye, people will speculate about your life. It's a part of being in this industry.
Across the world, speculation is what keeps everything alive. It's natural for people to keep asking you why you're doing what you're doing. On a good day, if I feel like, I talk about my life and answer all these questions. On another, I may not. But I'm tired about people ask ing me about men and motherhood!
Do you speculate about other people's lives too?
I'm SO not curious about other people's lives! Everyone's life is personal to them. What they share with their loved ones is something they would understand best.
When you're younger, you judge other people; but as you grow older, when you've gone through the whole cycle yourself, you understand why they were judging your relationship and you. You also empathise and understand when two people are in a relationship. And yes, there are times that you may say something... Certainly, if you see your friend with a 'bad news' guy or woman, you would. But not otherwise.
Your friends seem to be a very important part of your life…
I've come to have a very deep realisation about my friends. I didn't know how much they cared. But when you go through bad days, lose someone, that's when you realise how much such friendships mean to you, how deeply your friends care.
I believe that in my life there's really little space for superficial relationships. And barring a few exceptions, most of my friendships which are intense and deep, aren't in Mumbai, but in Chennai and Hyderabad. They've lasted so long because there has been no expectation, it's all about unconditional love. And in fact, I've always got more from them because I need them. They indulge me, they spoil me, they've cared for me for so many years.
How did these friendships form and grow?
Many are from my
days – Priyan (director Priyadarshan), producer Suresh Balaji, Laxmi, etc. See, it's your basic nature which attracts people to you and makes them want to be with you.
I don't know if we've actively 'nurtured' the friendship as such, but spending time, giving genuine affection, is sometimes all it takes. Every friendship requires different things.
You started acting when you were 15 in
Hum Naujawan. You've done 65 films across languages, won national awards, taken on all kinds of roles… Do you ever fear a burn out?
About acting I'll never feel burn out. I'll always feel there's something more I can do. But yes, with the whole process, there's a sense of not needing to do things I don't want to anymore. I don't feel the rush to do something just for the sake of it. I've come full circle.
Are you a happy person?
Yes. My core always searches for happiness and joy. And are you a loner, like your image portrays? No, although everyone is alone at the end of the day. But being in films, you can never be alone (laughs)!
But seriously, I'm not lonely either. I live with my mother and her world revolves around me. I'm close to my sister and her 10-year-old son. He has a very calming effect on me. You know, I literally have to beg him to play with me… he's busier than any adult I know!
Is there an issue you're passionate about?
There are so many things in the world that shouldn't be happening, that require our attention. I feel strongly about many things, but it passes. I'm not yet ready to take up an issue and stand for it.
But yes, I've realised that you can't just live in your bubble and take from the world. We are living in this world and so we're responsible for many things. And it is an eternal exchange.
If you have the power, you need to find ways to distribute it. The haves have to give to the have- nots. And I don't mean just financially, but even emotionally and mentally. But even if it's a cause, I want to connect personally to it. To be true and honest to it.
That seems really important to you… to be true and honest to everything?
Yes that is most important. I know this because I've experienced doing things that go against my grain. If you see, be it a director, a filmmaker or an artiste, their work will reflect their personal journey, their own emotional release. You have to carry your own reality… So, as you say, you've come full circle.
There are circles and circles. You can never be complete with everything. In one phase you'll feel complete and something will come along and show you that there's so much more…