Now, Taapsee will have as many as five releases this year and has started chalking in dates in her diary for the next. In the #BigInterview with ETimes, the actress opens up about her schedule for the year, carrying films on her shoulders, and why she won’t be getting married anytime soon. Read on:
You did get rewarded with chole bhature in the new year as you had hoped for, while chomping on diet food and crunching abs back in November…
Oh, I was craving for it so badly on the sets that the producers of the film, who saw what I put myself through to look the part of an athlete, had chole bhature couriered to me all the way from Delhi just when I was planning to order it from one of the restaurants around my house. It was really sweet of them and I relished every last bit of it (smiles). I was never on a restricted diet but I couldn’t have cheat days. I still follow a diet but it doesn’t require me to measure salt in grams or oil by spoons which my mother was doing for me all through my training period. Now I can have a cheat meal or two.
You had injured yourself on the sets of ‘Rashmi Rocket’…
Post the lockdown, I had only resumed gym-training to get muscles to show, pushing the athletic training to when we would shoot the race sequences in Ranchi in December. But we didn’t account for all the sprinting I’d have to do to shoot the training montages. My muscles gave up on the third day and I couldn’t even lift up my leg. But the shoot schedule didn’t allow an injury; a lot of people were depending on my performance. I could feel the pain from the same injury till the time I shot my last sprint for the film; the trainers could only help me manage it but I’ll need to rest them to recover from it fully.
But then you’ll move to ‘Shabaash Mithu’, which will again be physically daunting…
At least it will not be as torturous physically now that I have achieved an athlete’s body. I just have to get my cricketing strokes and body language right.
Don’t you feel you could have been an athlete for real with such rigorous training?
No way, I thank my stars that I am an actor and not an athlete for real. It’s so difficult!
So, what does your schedule look like for the year?
I have started shooting for ‘Rashmi Rocket’ in Bhuj and should be able to wrap it by January 25. Then I move to the final schedule of ‘Looop Lapeta’, which I will complete in Goa by February. In summer, I’ll kick off ‘Shaabash Mithu’ and a few more projects that will be announced soon. By August, I intend to complete the shoot of films signed before the lockdown and then start the films I signed while under the lockdown. Oh, and in March, I start work on Anurag Kashyap’s supernatural film.
Have you all finally zeroed in on a location?
(Laughs) Every time we decided on one, something or the other came up. We were planning to shoot in the UK which went under a lockdown, we moved our plans to South Africa and flights to the country were cancelled. Luckily, the script isn’t location specific; we just need a certain geography where we can recreate two different time zones. They have decided on Goa as of now, but I won’t be surprised if they change it 10 days before starting the shoot.
What’s happening with the Sanjay Leela Bhansali production ‘Sia Jia’, in which you play a double role?
There has been no further discussion on it; it’s not moving. We might just choose a different script altogether. However, I have already stopped accepting films for 2021 and am only hearing scripts for the next year now.
You will have as many as five releases this year. How was it returning to the theatres to watch a film?
I might even have six (smiles)! We had late night shifts for ‘Rashmi Rocket’ till the last day of 2020 and began day shoots from January 2, so, the first day of the year was a turnaround day and we got a holiday and since ‘Thappad’ was the last film I had watched on the big screen, I wanted to start the year by going to the theatre. I wasn’t paranoid at all because I have been travelling in a plane, where you sit right next to each other. At least here there is a gap of a seat in between. But it was bittersweet for me, what with the poor theatre staff constantly having to assure everyone that the movie-watching experience was safe.
You have been pointing out how the budget of a woman-led film is sometimes equal to a male A-lister’s salary but with so many films now being headlined by you, do you see it changing? How many times do you see a male A-lister feature in a female A-lister’s film unless he is co-producing it, but the opposite happens all the time and no one bats an eyelid. It’s tedious to find actors to be a part of a film where the actress might have 10-20 per cent more screen time. There have been times when actors, who have done lesser films than me, refused to co-star claiming there was nothing ‘heroic’ about their part. Not just me, Deepika Padukone, who has worked with such big names, had to work with a fabulous actor like Vikrant Massey in ‘Chhapaak’, Kangana Ranaut paired up with Jassie Gill for ‘Panga’, Alia Bhatt with Vicky Kaushal in ‘Raazi’, Vidya Balan with Manav Kaul for ‘Tumhari Sulu’. You see the pattern? Actresses never do that.
They are ridiculed for doing smaller roles in films though…
Yes, probably because their male counterparts don’t do it. But women think of the film as a whole and see the role’s importance in the plot. I have made a career out of it! My role in ‘Baby’ was seven-minute long but it got me noticed and also got me a ‘Naam Shabana’, which seems unreal. I have reached a point where I tell my producers to stop chasing names to sell a few more tickets and instead look for good performers; I can carry the film on my shoulders.
And it seems to have worked well for you…
I keep getting a lot of free advice where well-meaning people from the industry tell me to do a big, commercial film, opposite a big star. But I have made a name for myself on my own; I believe the audience expects a certain kind of cinema from me. If I try to become a commercial heroine, which the audience might or might not accept, I might lose my fanbase. I don’t want to make such a compromise.
What’s your take on the proposal to pay a salary to homemakers?
I haven’t been able to wrap my head around it. On one side, it seems absolutely reasonable to pay housemakers for all the work they do, but what price can you put on the emotion with which the work is done? We touched upon this in ‘Thappad’ as well but I am divided on it.
With such a choc-a-bloc date diary, how will you have any time left for your personal life?
I have always struck a balance between my personal and professional lives and this year won’t be any different. Even if it is only a small trip to Delhi to be with my parents or calling them here–I always take time out for unwinding. After I wrap up ‘Looop Lapeta’ too, I might go on a vacation.
Any personal milestones to achieve this year?
If there’s one lesson we should take away from 2020, it’s that don’t waste your time planning for the future.
You wished Mathias Boe on his birthday last year with a post. Will you be making it official?
I have never consciously hidden anything but I don’t show it off either because I don’t believe in social media PDA. I didn’t want to date someone from the industry for this very reason–I want to keep my personal and professional lives separate. I always share a picture with those who matter to me on their birthdays and did the same for Mathias, who is a part of my inner circle.
Is a wedding on the cards soon?
I have yet to reach certain benchmarks in my professional life. Once I do, I’ll probably think of slowing down, doing two-three films a year instead of five-six. Only then will I have time to dedicate to my personal life.