Taapsee Pannu is not your ordinary movie star. An outsider in an industry infamous for cliques, she has slowly and steadily carved a niche for herself—with a career conspicuous with unconventional projects, a life marked with instinctive choices, and a mind she’s not afraid to speak.
Taapsee has completed nine years in the film industry and is, in the truest sense, a self-made girl. In hindsight, would a ‘mentor’ have changed anything in her journey? “Only that I would have made fewer mistakes. And I wouldn’t have taken this long to reach where I am today, ” she smiles. “I would have had a guiding force to tell me what might work and what won’t, what the consequences of some decisions might be...which I’ve had to learn all on my own, falling and getting back up a lot in the process.”
But doing it her way has had its advantages, too. “Everything I’ve achieved has been on my own. And no-one can take credit for it,” Taapsee says. “And even though the journey has been long, it is strong and stable.” It is also a course that has instilled a sense of security in Taapsee. “I have no fears now as far as my career is concerned,” she says. “What’s the worst that can happen? I started from square one, and if nothing works out, I’ll go back to it. Failing doesn’t scare me. I love it when people appreciate my work and go to watch my films, but it is just an aspect my life, not all of it.”
This demarcation between personal and professional is something Taapsee takes seriously. And while she admits that life has changed post films, she refuses to let the ‘celebrity life’ affect her. “I may be a recognised face now, but I’m still a very private person. I like to keep things real and not let fame adversely influence me. Similarly, I don’t like others crossing that boundary, you know? I am a public figure, not public property. There’s a very fine balance, and I like to maintain it.”
This balance extends to her friendships as well. When she’s doing her own thing, her guard down, she’s actually quite the people’s person, she reveals. “Even growing up, I was an extrovert, hyper-active girl who loved socialising and making friends. I’ve formed new bonds at every stage of my life, including now, and I’m in touch with most of them.” Yet, she’s intentionally kept away from the film frat. “Yes, I don’t have many friends in the industry, because I feel they may think I have some vested interest or want something in return.”
That rule applies to her love life, too. Taapsee makes it clear that she will never date an actor. “And I plan to stick to that,” she laughs. “No offence to people who are dating or are married to fellow actors...I just don’t think I could ever be with one. I don’t want to take work back with me! There’s so much more to do and experience outside of this world.” She has a few more deal-breakers to add to that: infidelity and disrespect. “If you can’t respect your partner or be loyal to them, you can’t love them. Period.” (For the record, she finds self-made men very attractive.)