Powerhouse performer Taapsee Pannu will return to the South Indian film industry with the psychological thriller Game Over, which will release in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi worldwide on June 14th.
Taapsee Pannu interacted with media in Hyderabad, prior to her movie release. She opened up about her career in the film industry.
Q: How did you zero in on the Game Over script?
A: I heard the script one and a half years back or so. Sashikanth, the producer, called me and pitched to read the script. I knew Ashwin’s work in Maya and later talked to him to discuss about the script. When I called him, he gave me the whole written script. The script and the story have never been seen in Indian cinema, to my knowledge. Even in the Hindi films I did, I did not find this script. So, readily I agreed to do the film, be it any language. Then we did the movie in a year or so, simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu. After the first copy came out, both Reliance Entertainment and Anurag Kashyap saw the copy and were extremely impressed. Immediately, Reliance Entertainment pitched to present the movie in Hindi too, as they thought the story was universal. Anurag Kashyap came forward to present the movie in Hindi. I always do a Telugu film per year, but you can say this is a straight Tamil film I am doing after Kanchana, the Raghava Lawrence movie. The story of Game Over is a game changing one for Indian cinema.
Q: Did this movie take a toll on you physically, to do a physically challenged woman, in two languages?
A: It was, yes. I did not have even a hairline injury in my life till date. To act as a wheelchair bound person for almost 60 % of the movie was a challenge. Added to that, mentally, it was taking a toll on my mind too. I play a traumatised girl in the movie. You might have seen the trailer, with me hallucinating. I have an accident in the movie and then my character suffers from a mental and physical trauma.
Q: How did you manage the prosthetic makeup?
A: I ended up doing my makeup, tying my legs, even in my lunch hour. I shot the movie for 35 days. The leg cast took me half an hour to put on. I shot 12 to 15 hours every day. Thirty seven days was the entire shooting time, with some patchwork.
Q: You literally carry the film on your shoulders? Don’t you feel tensed?
A: No, I consider cinema as a director’s medium and Ashwin Saravanan is a brilliant one. He guided me all through, without feeling down at any moment. However, when my Tamil poster announced “Taapsee’s comeback film in Tamil,” I felt conscious, but, I composed myself and went with the tide. In Hindi, generally, we don’t put an actor’s name on posters. I am proud to do a film in three languages every year.
Q: You seem to be evolved as an actress in your choice of movies?
A: I value viewers’ money, as they value it. When I came as a newcomer, I did not know the trade and made some mistakes in my choice of films. However, as time evolved, I started thinking about the viewers who work hard and earn money I thought about whether the script worth their money whether I will excel in fulfilling the script’s demand.
Q: Are you a video game freak?
A: Ah! In my school days, I used to play Mario, etc., during my school and college days. However, to get into the character’s mood, I used to play Ludo in between the shots as I got exhausted. I got to get the freaky part bang on, right?
Q: How did you rewind from getting out of your character in Game Over?
A: Oh yes! I used to rewind by not staying alone. I went back to Mumbai to my friend’s home and stayed with them. As the story has me as a lonely woman, I always surrounded myself with people after I get a short break. You should remember, we shot the film at a stretch in 35-36 days. Also, I went on a holiday for a week or so.
Q: You raise a lot of expectations from people. What about Badla grossing 100 crores?
A: It is crazy. I respect the audience who come with their brains intact and appreciate your work, seriously. If you people liked Badla, you definitely will like Game Over.
Q: What did it feel like to work with Amitabh Bachchan for the second time, after Pink?
A: It is great, we treat ourselves with mutual respect. He does not like co actors treating him as THE Bachchan, just as a colleague. We interact a lot and talk a lot about movies.
Q:Did you feel dissuaded by the fact people would get bored to see ONLY you for 90 % of the film? D Did you discuss with the director about the pros and cons of it?
A: No! When I was doing the movie, my focus was on playing the character and nothing else. However, when I saw the poster, it was then I realized it was a SOLO CHARACTER film. I did not discuss anything with my director about this aspect. You do not have any option, but to bear with me for the whole movie (laughs.)
Q: You are doing Saand Ki Aankh with Bhumi Pednekar. Are you game for a two heroine script?
A: Oh, yes! I always want to explore my possibilities as an actor. It was me who went to the producers searching for a two heroine script, but I did not know those two heroines were old ladies (in Saand Ki Aankh.) Anurag Kashyap was game with me doing one of the roles instantly. The producers were surprised to hear I was okay playing a 65 year old lady, but I look for challenging roles.
Q: Could you elaborate the genre of Game Over?
A: It is basically about house invasion, but the script has many layers to it. This is the first time India is seeing such a movie. For the rest, you have to watch it in the theater. Even the shooting of the film is designed like a videogame. The youth will truly connect with this film. Y You see me moving in my house just like a video game character.
Q: You are doing three to four films a year. How are you ensuring the quality with quantity?
A:I have been getting some really good scripts. Not a big deal to choose good scripts. It is my personal choice to do three to four films a year.
Q: How is working with Akshay Kumar?
A: Oh, with Akshay Sir! I will retire on the day I achieve even half of what he accomplished over these years. Excited to work with him on Mission Mangal.
Q: Are you satisfied with your Telugu films?
A: Yes! I would like to call them entertaining scripts. I still get interesting ones in Telugu. The people who call me too know I would not do each and every stereotypical movie. I like doing such movies in Telugu always, like Neevevaro.
Q: Are you okay with doing a regular commercial movie?
A: Yes, if the movie has a story that offers some scope for me, for displaying my acting talents. I love to play glamorous roles, but with some substance.
Q: Are you comfortable with naach gaana type movies?
A: I want and like naach, gaana, but it should have some story also, right? It should be a story like, if you take my character out, the story should not change. I want some strength to my role.
Q: What is the situation in Hindi?
A: In Hindi, they only want me to act and give films in which I have a lot of scope to act. What can I do about it? (laughs) Honestly, there are many good actresses in Hindi who dance and do commercial cinema. I am fine with my choice of films.
Q: What is the main difference between Hindi and Telugu?
A: I have many choices there, as I know the language well. Here, how much ever hard I try to be a “Telugu Ammayi,” I am not that, right? Moreover, Hindi cinema offers me a variety of scripts these days.
Q: You have been only into crime thrillers. Why don’t you do some light hearted films?
A: No, this is my third film in the thriller genre in my career. I did Naam Shabana, Baby and Badla. Manmarziyaan was a love story, Neevevaro is a crime thriller. I can do a love story, but with a strong character written for me.
Q: Your film Pink is being remade in Tamil? How do you feel? Were you approached for the role of Meenal Arora in Tamil?
A: It’s actually the other way round, right? South films are remade into Hindi and I am proud my Hindi film is being remade in the South. I was not approached for the role in Tamil—thank god for that! To relive Meenal Arora is really taxing.
Q: You play a scientist in Mission Mangal?
A: Yes, Nithya (Menen) is getting introduced in Bollywood with the project. I feel happy for her. A beautiful film with five female actresses and Akshay Sir in one frame. Waiting for August 15th, 2019.
Q: You are not in the number game of actresses, right? You are making your own choices. Is this a personal decision?
A: Yes (laughs) people used to tell me you are now number 1, 2, 3. I had enough of it. I came out of the track and I am happy to carve a separate track for myself. It is great to be in your own space.
Q: You did an action film with Neeraj Pandey. Would you like to do another movie in the genre?
A: Yes, I keep on prodding Neeraj Sir to do one more action film with me. It’s been quite some time, would like to do another movie in the genre for sure!
Q: Your projects in the South?
A: I have finalised one in Tamil, which I will start after Game Over releases. Also heard one or two more in Telugu, yet to decide, but will do at least one each year, for sure.
Q: Are you getting into producing your own movies?
A: Not right now because production needs someone on the ground to oversee the work— which I cannot do now with my busy schedule as an actor. If I find a partner who can manage on my behalf, I will think about it.
Q: How did you make sure Ashwin Saravanan would do a horror movie like Game Over, as this is an unexplored genre in the South?
A: Did you watch his Maya (2015?) It was brilliant as a horror story and I loved the way he opens his scenes in the script of Game Over. He has a clear vision about the work he is going to do.
Q: The hospitality in Tollywood is unmatched in India. What do you think of it?
A: Sir, I think people here are passionate about cinema. Hindi audience like cinema, but are not as devoted to a film like in the South. In Mumbai, it is a casual matter to watch a movie.
Q: Do you like to call yourself as a director’s actor?
A: Yes, I am always a director’s actor. I It is totally the director’s credit to chisel me into what I am today. Yes, I owe a lot to my directors.
Q: How do you overcome the hero domination in the film industry?
A: It is not my overcoming the aspect, I accepted it as a norm in the industry. We have to live with it. You have to live with it. I am okay with it, I knew it would happen and it is happening.
Q: Any bitter experiences in your career, owing to nepotism?
A: Yes, I lost some movies because of that, I felt like crying at times, but made my peace with it.
Q: Do you have any plans of getting married?
A: No, no, I will get married only when I feel like starting a family and raising kids. Not now.
Thank you all!
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