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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Taapsee Pannu on Badla: “I Got the Confidence to Push the Boundaries a Little Further”

It’s been only a few years since Taapsee Pannu transitioned from South-Indian to Hindi cinema and since then she has taken the industry by storm. 

Whether it’s playing a sexual assault victim in Pink, a secret agent in Naam Shabana or a formidable lawyer in Mulk, Taapsee nails almost every role with perfection.

Now, the 31-year-old actress is set to push the envelope further as an actor in Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla.

In Badla, she plays a head-strong businesswoman who finds herself in a locked hotel room next to the body of her dead lover.

She hires a prestigious lawyer (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her and over the course of one evening, they work together to find out what actually happened.

Filme Shilmy managed to get a tete-a-tete with Taapsee regarding her forthcoming Bollywood film.

Badla is a murder mystery so what are some of the key challenges you overcame in doing such a genre?

I didn’t have to bother much with the genre when you’re at the hands of a director like Sujoy Ghosh.

For me, saying yes to the film was the tricky part and deciding to do the character.

But after coming on board, I leave myself at the hands of the filmmaker.

You portray a head-strong businesswoman who has different shades. How has playing Naina enhanced your experience as an actor?

The character just shows a different angle of my own personality in portraying a certain shade, which I haven’t done before.

I haven’t done this kind of character before so it’s quite challenging for me to portray that.

Also, it will be interesting to see whether my audience will accept that.

I’ve tried to push the envelope further, which was quite tricky.

Initially, my role was written for a guy but then I requested the producers to swap it and allow me to do it.

Since I hadn’t done a character like this before, I thought I could bring something to the table.

Amitabh Bachchan played your lawyer in Pink and he does it yet again in Badla. In what way has your previous experience of working with him helped you in this film?

Though the chemistries are totally different from then to now, the comfort level is there, courtesy to Pink and that is what helped with Badla.

This film shows people talking and discussing what happened or might’ve happened.

So, it was very crucial to have good chemistry otherwise the audience would not be able to connect with us or our conversation.

It’s entirely dependent upon on these two people (Amitabh and Taapsee’s characters) and their comfort level with each other.

They are the ones who will be taking maximum screen-time with each other.

Pink really helped in building that chemistry and comfort level, because of which we didn’t need to waste time shooting and deliver straight away.

Sujoy Ghosh is a pro at narrating suspense stories. What did you like the most about his filmmaking style?

I have seen Kahaani and soon after my first Hindi film Chashme Baddoor, Sujoy saw that.

That’s when he approached me and we met each other.

Strangely, my first film was not a typical Sujoy Ghosh kind of cinema and he happened to believe that it will be interesting to work with me.

I was more than happy to think that a filmmaker like him would think of me like that!

It’s been more than three years now (since this film happened), that we were trying to figure out to work together on a project.

However, nothing really fell into place.

We were once about to sign up for a project but then something happened and it didn’t work out.

After trying for so long to work with each other, Badla fell into place in a very strange manner and I don’t think there could’ve been a better opportunity to work with Sujoy.

This film has all the ingredients of a Sujoy Ghosh movie in terms of the suspense, thrill and a strong female protagonist.

How much can you resonate/agree with the film’s slogan ‘Maaf Kar Dena Har Baar Sahi Nahi Hota’?

We all are human beings and sometimes we don’t forget, nor do we forgive.

Badla (revenge) is a normal human emotion.

It is normal to think that we want revenge from someone.

It’s interesting to see Hollywood release a film on vengeance through Cold Pursuit and now Bollywood through Badla. Perhaps the thriller/suspense genre is growing?

It has been a while since we’ve seen a teekha (spicy) murder mystery because there are so many other genres that have taken over.

I think that is what is quite refreshing about this film.

People even told me they can’t remember the last time that they saw a good murder mystery and this is one of the older genres in the history of cinema.

I guess this is a reason why people can look forward to this.

Also, when you have names like Shah Rukh Khan backing it up, believing in the project and standing strong as a producer, it convinces that you’ll have a good product in hand, eventually.

Listen to our interview podcast with Taapsee Pannu here!


From comedies to social thrillers, you’ve worked in a plethora of films. How do you adapt to these various styles?

Once I’ve read the script and Okayed it, I leave it into the hands of my director because I am a director’s actor.

I want to explore different genres otherwise I will get bored and then subsequently, the audience will get bored.

I need to keep mixing and matching, or else I’ll become predictable for the audience.

Does working in versatile roles creatively satisfy you?

Oh yes, it does. It kind of validates you as an actor if you can pull off different genres.

Plus, it gives you that confidence to push the envelope further because that’s what happened (for me) in 2018 after doing varied and unconventional roles.

I got the confidence to push the boundaries a little further with this film.

Badla releases in cinemas worldwide on 8th March 2019.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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