“It’s So Common to Hear That the ‘Hero’ of the Film Decides Who the Female Lead Will Be": Taapsee Pannu

The actor talks to Cosmo about standing up against sexism and her greatest takeaway from the industry in nine years of her career. 

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.


It’s clear to see that Taapsee likes to say it like it is. Even if it might ruffle some feathers. Recently, she good-humouredly quipped that she ‘still doesn’t qualify’ to be on director Karan Johar’s popular talk show—a subtle dig at never having been invited to be on it. Or, years ago, when she was asked to reduce her fee for a film because her male co-star’s recent film release had bombed. The male lead, incidentally, wasn’t asked for any pay cuts. Taapsee had flatly refused. Talking about the incident, she says,“Sexism does exist. It’s so common to hear that the ‘hero’ of the film decides who the female lead will be. Or, the male lead gets the price he asks for, and the actress is cast depending on how much budget is left thereafter,” she exclaims. “Even now, there are times when I’ve agreed to a film, and, after all the confirmations, the team tells me they couldn’t get the budget approved, so they’ve changed the protagonist’s gender to male, to get a male star onboard, and get the budgets sanctioned.” But things are a-changing. “There are also films like Badla, where the protagonist was originally a man, but they cast me and made it woman-centric. Yes, these are few and far between, but they do exist.”

So, what has been Taapsee’s biggest learning, her greatest takeaway from the industry? “That slow and steady eventually does win in life,” she smiles, almost summing up her nine years in nine words.