I am not a fan of the horror-comedy genre, says Taapsee Pannu
Annabelle Sethupathi will likely not be remembered for long, and according to Taapsee Pannu, will likely be one of her last horror comedies in the South
Annabelle Sethupathi will likely not be remembered for long, and according to Taapsee Pannu, may be one of her last horror comedies in the South.
The reason doesn’t have much to do with the underwhelming reception though; it’s simply that she’s not a fan of the horror-comedy genre.
“I did Kanchana 2 in Tamil and Anando Brahma in Telugu, and both of them were horror-comedies. However, both times, I said no initially because the genre thrives on exaggerations, and I don’t see myself in it.” And yet, she accepted because she quite enjoyed both scripts, she says.
Annabelle Sethupathi’s director, Deepak Sundarrajan, insisted on casting her, she shares.
“He wanted to narrate this script only to me. I heard it and saw that it was more of a fantasy-comedy and had a good story too.” Deepak, of course, is a debutant director, but the project also afforded her the chance to act with Vijay Sethupathi for the first time, an actor Taapsee remembers him for his modesty.
“The film is named after a woman and I appreciate that Vijay, being a star, said yes to such a film. I haven’t seen this happen in my career so far. I like that he isn’t insecure about his presence,” she says.
Another technique she follows in picking films is to put herself in the shoes of the audience.
“I ask myself whether I would spend my money and my precious two hours on such a film. I ask if people will forget me when they walk out of the theatre. When I look back at my filmography after I retire, will I be embarrassed or proud of the film? These questions help me pick films.”
The lockdown gave her a lot of time for introspection. “Even before that, I used to take time off after every film to relax my mind and body.”
That’s why she also doesn’t allow for overlapping shooting schedules. “It’s not healthy and I dislike the idea of working without breaks. Right now, however, I have a lot of commitments on my plate, thanks to the delays enforced by the pandemic,” she says.
Her upcoming films include Rashmi Rocket, Looop Lapeta, Dobaaraa, Shabaash Mithu, Mishan Impossible, Jana Gana Mana (her next Tamil film), and her maiden production venture, Blurr. A few of these films even have overlapping schedules that she so dislikes.
“I could never have accounted for a lockdown when I said yes to these films. There’s a lot of capital involved, and so, there is pressure.”
Taapsee recently resumed training for Shabaash Mithu, the biopic of Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian Women’s cricket team.
“We need to wrap up the film within the next two months as we aim to have the film come out during the Women’s World Cup in March next year. It’s the first-ever women-in-blue film,” says Taapsee. Her next Tamil film, Jana Gana Mana, however, might take longer to finish work on.
“There’s a lot of outdoor shooting left, and we will have to travel a lot. I have completed only two schedules, and we are all waiting for restrictions to get relaxed.”
Taapsee also launched her production banner, Outsider Films, earlier this year, and will make her debut as a producer with Ajay Bahl’s Blurr, for which the crew has completed shooting.
“I have been aiming to become a producer for a while now. I want to get more involved in cinema. As an actor, I can’t take certain marketing calls. As a producer, I have more freedom.”
She has three more films in the pipeline as a producer, and one of them, which she can’t talk about now, will feature her in the lead.
The actor has been quite vocal on social issues, including the gender pay disparity. She believes that films like Annabelle Sethupathi that feature a woman in the centre are useful in bridging this gap.
“Such cinema ensures that the salary of women actors go up. But there’s an obvious pay gap that exists between men and women, with the latter getting only a small percentage of what they deserve. However, the truth is also that there are not as many footfalls in theatres for films led by women as there are for men. We must be mindful of that too.”
And so, part of the responsibility in finding a solution is with the audience, she says.
“When people come in large numbers to watch women in cinema, the conditions for women will improve.”