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Decoding the Rise of Taapsee Pannu and What Makes Her So Important

By: Sneha Bengani


Last Updated: August 01, 2019, 16:23 IST

Decoding the Rise of Taapsee Pannu and What Makes Her So Important

As Taapsee Pannu turns 32 today, here’s celebrating her—her spunk, charisma, fierceness, ambition—and how she’s changing the narrative for women one film at a time.

A lot has been talked about Akshay Kumar’s unfaltering consistency—how he has been starring in at least three films every year since the last 15 years. A new-age actor who seems to match Khiladi’s stamina and zealousness is Taapsee Pannu.

If her forthcoming film Tadka releases this year, the 32-year-old will have had five releases every year in the last three years (that’s 15 films in three years. Phew!). But unlike Akshay, who sticks to one genre until both he and the audience can take no more (first action, then comedy, now patriotic), Taapsee has a knack for mixing it up and experimentation. She can be effortlessly earnest in a Pink, Naam Shabana, Mulk and a Game Over. And just then, when you begin to slot her, she’d drop a Judwaa 2, a Soorma and a Manmarziyaan.

From her smart film choices to her honest, layered portrayal of characters as diverse as Meenal (Pink) and Samaara (Judwaa 2), one thing is clear—Taapsee is having fun making movies and she wants you to do the same watching them. At a time when actors are big on image building, she is running wild and turning unpredictable, more with each film.

What also works for Taapsee is that she is a terrific actor with a respectable box office standing but without the trappings of a star, making her an ideal choice for every meaty role that demands pushing boundaries. She becomes what she plays, and in doing so she has established herself as a refreshing alternative in an industry bogged down by superstars.

Ahead of Manmarziyaan’s release, director Anurag Kashyap was asked why he chose to make the film, which was earlier being helmed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (of Bareilly Ki Barfi fame). He said, “Because of Rumi” and it shows. Despite great performances from Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan, it is Taapsee’s Rumi that is the film’s soul, its throbbing heart.

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The Chashme Baddoor actor, who turns 32 today, will next star in Jagan Shakti’s all too-crowded ensemble film Mission Mangal. Any mainstream actor with a conventional mind-set would have thought at least twice before agreeing to do it, considering the film also stars biggies like Akshay and Vidya Balan. But Taapsee, in a recent interview, said she jumped at the prospect of being a part of such a remarkable story and getting to work with incredible actors, even if it came at the cost of limited screen-time. It speaks volumes of how secure she is about her craft and her standing.

That the audience is able to relate to Taapsee and her characters has helped build her brand but this reliability with her transcends beyond the 70mm screen. She is as unafraid in real life as she is in her movie choices. She deftly deals with trolls, routinely giving them a taste of her ready wit and humour, speaks her mind even on issues considered unsafe, and calls out when there needs calling out.

Labelling her the girl-next-door is not just lazy but plain wrong. Because she’s quite the opposite. The likes of her are a rare find, as rare as empty spaces in Mumbai, breathable air in Delhi and movable traffic in Bengaluru. Or even more.

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first published:August 01, 2019, 10:59 IST
last updated:August 01, 2019, 16:23 IST