Taapsee pannu seems to be emerging at the top of the game with her judicious choice of roles — catering to both the thinking audience and the formula- driven one
elcome to the limelight. At one point, there didn’t seem to be something extraordinary about Taapsee Pannu. Then, of late, there were two simultaneous releases featuring the 29- yearold bright- eyed actress: the romcom Running Shaadi and The Ghazi Attack, promoted as India’s “underwater film”, since a substantial section was located in a war submarine.
Both films fetched mixed reviews and weren’t quite in the league of Taapsee’s career- cementing Pink, in the company of Amitabh Bachchan. In fact, it’s Pink which prodded the frontline producers to acknowledge her as an artiste who has what it takes to do sufficient justice to roles of some social significance, as well as to fit into the glamour mould.
She didn’t grab awards galore for investing credibility in the part of a young woman vilified, along with two flatmates, in Pink. She should have gone home with trophies, at least for Best Supporting Actress, but, deservedly, Shabana Azmi, as the bereaved mother in Neerja, had an edge.
Although awards may have eluded her, Taapsee — born to Sikh parents in Delhi and educated there — has at the very least achieved broad recognition. In fact, according to trade trackers, Running Shaadi had been languishing for months in the cans. It’s only the afterglow of Pink, which smoothened its passage towards a decent theatrical release across the nation.
Another reason why this column is devoted to Taapsee Pannu, is that, for years, hers was a typical struggle of a leading lady who could have fallen into the crack of oblivion, if it wasn’t for a single, impactful film in which she had to do much more than sit, stand, dance and look pretty.
Who knows? If she had not submitted herself to stepping off the hackneyed track, with a hard- knuckled, shorn of artifice endeavour like Pink, she wouldn’t have made it in the often unhealthy competitive Bollywood jungle. Like it or not, most debutantes, and especially star daughters, are wary of being seen in what, for want of a better term, can be described as “serious” films.
A professional computer engineer, Taapsee started her career with modelling, and then moved on to star in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films. She was noticed — but barely — in David Dhawan’s lamentable remake of Sai Paranjpye’s cult comedy Chashme Baddoor, in which, needless to emphasise, she wasn’t a patch on the original’s heroine Deepti Naval. how taapsee stacked up in the popularity stakes: 1 in Baby 2 in the career- defining in Running in
how the others lost out: Diana Penty showed promise in Cocktail but fizzled out Ileana D’cruz could only manage weak roles in films such as Rustom 3 other than Madras Café, Nargis Fakhri was forgettable
Meanwhile, other freshers like Nargis Fakhri, Ileana D’cruz and Diana Penty arrived on the scene but, from the look of things, none of them has proved to be a stayer. That’s been particularly unfortunate in the instance of Diana Penty, who struck an intelligent screen presence with Cocktail opposite biggies like Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, but wasn’t sure if she could persist with acting, only to reappear after a lengthy hiatus in Happy Bhaag Jayegi, a fairly entertaining laugh- raiser that tanked at the box office.
If Diana has any other project on her plate, it remains a well- guarded secret. At one point, she was mentioned in the line- up of Nikhil Advani’s under production Lucknow Central, but now seems to have been replaced by Kriti Sanon, who thus far has projected her image essentially as a glamour girl, changing her designer outfits in every scene. Looking gorgeous, evidently, comes before revealing an iota of acting talent.
By contrast, Taapsee’s surviving power can be ascribed to that mandatory quotient: a killer instinct. Or the desire to balance offbeat films with the brazenly formulaic. Tadka, being helmed by the Chennai- anchored actor- turned- director Prakash Raj, has her in the cast. She played second ( or was it third?) fiddle to Akshay Kumar in the espionage drama Baby, but in its prequel slides into the title role of Naam Shabana. Hopefully, as a trained- in- martial arts spy, she will be able to invest some plausibility in a role designed as a showcase for her acting chops.
Taapsee has also, alongside Jacqueline Fernandez, been pencilled in by David Dhawan opposite his son Varun Dhawan for Judwaa 2, the sequel to the Salman Khan popular doublerole act some 20 years ago. So there you are. Maybe an artiste can live in both the worlds — the avowedly sensible and the purely escapist. If the feisty girl from Pink can, it will have to be said, bully for her!
Taapsee’s surviving power can be ascribed to that mandatory quotient: a killer instinct. Or the desire to balance offbeat films with the brazenly formulaic. Maybe an artiste can live in both worlds — the avowedly sensible and the purely escapist