'The last two years have been loopy’: Taapsee Pannu
Taapsee Pannu, along with co-star Tahir Raj Bhasin and director Aakash Bhatia, unpacks the mysteries of Looop Lapeta
Taapsee Pannu tells us she “enjoys running generally”. It’s not a secret. Her last film, Rashmi Rocket, was about a sprinter, and so is Looop Lapeta dropping on Netflix on February 4. The difference? The tracks in Aakash Bhatia’s film are existential—and loopy. The film is a remake of the 1998 German cult classic Run Lola Run. Savi, Taapsee’s character, has precious minutes to bail out her deadbeat boyfriend. She tries once and fails. In most cases, that should be it. But time is illusive and the returns eternal—or at least maxed out to three—in this crazy head trip shot in Goa.
Taapsee says she hadn’t seen Run Lola Run before hearing the script of Looop Lapeta. What clicked with her, ultimately, was the distinctness of the Indian version. For instance, the couple’s names — Savi and Satya — are a nod to the Savitri-Satyavan story from the Mahabharata.
“I liked the Indianisation of the concept of loop,” Taapsee says. “That is what stuck out the most and became the ‘wow’ moment for me when I first heard the script.”
Young and wild
“The film talks about quantum physics in an entertaining way,” says Tahir Raj Bhasin, who plays Satya. Tahir had seen the original in college and remembers it as edgy, stylish and fresh. For Looop, he’d met the producers at a coffee shop in 2019. This was the weekend Chhichhore had released – Tahir, understandably, wasn’t in the market for ‘remakes’. “But the moment they said Run Lola Run, my coffee just stopped there. I was thrilled to hear how they’ve broken it down and made it funny and relatable.”
Director Aakash Bhatia reiterates he did not want to do a copy-paste job. “We wanted to package and tell it in an original way,” he says. The film is co-written by him, Vinay Chhawal, Ketan Pedgaonkar and Arnav Nanduri. “At the heart of it, we want the audience to attach itself to the characters and be with them on the journey.”
In Looop, Taapsee makes the same run thrice, with “a different emotion and running style” for each. She filmed the running sequences for two weeks in the Goa sun. Trickiest was a shot involving cars and scooters on a busy street. The scene – done in a single take — ends with Taapsee crashing into a car and falling off the hood. “I had to keep rolling in pain,” she recalls. “I didn’t know where the camera was, because by that time you are too disoriented. Actually, in one of the takes, I got up before it was cut.”
The film was packed with such challenges. Yet, for both leads, its defining moment came indoors. After the first loop is over — mild spoiler here — Savi wakes up in a flashback, with Satya. They’re at home, a dreamy Goan-Portuguese apartment with a large kitchen. It’s a calm, unhurried sequence that maps out the characters’ driving emotions. “I treated it as the heart of the film,” Taapsee enthuses. “If people understand this, they will understand the rest.” “It’s only when you see the light that the shadow makes sense,” Tahir adds moodily.
I tell the trio my own loop story. In 2017, I’d moved to Mumbai and struggled to find a house, despite ready money and a roommate. The whole ordeal felt like going around in circles. Taapsee chuckles empathetically – but finds a better parallel. “I think the last two years have been on loop. Whenever you are trying to get back to work, there’s a lockdown. The number of cases goes up. I’m hoping this third time we’ll get lucky and be out of this covid.”
Tahir’s story, by contrast, is a lot chirpier. Years ago, he’d come to perform at IIT Bombay’s Mood Indigo festival. They were put up in Hostel 4 — the same place where, in Chhichhore, his character Derek lords over. “It was one of the places where I’d decided that acting means so much to me. So going back felt like life had come a full circle.”