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Posted at: Mar 19, 2017, 12:57 AM; last updated: Mar 19, 2017, 12:57 AM (IST)

A spy so special

Taapsi Pannu, who won many hearts with her role in Pink, will be soon seen in Shivam Nair’s Naam Shabana. The versatile actor chats up about her role
A spy so special
In a new role: For a year and a half, Taapsi Pannu tried to internalise the role of a woman spy

Shoma A. Chatterji

Pan-Indian actor Taapsi Pannu is a software engineer who worked in Delhi till South Indian films practically fell into her lap. It was, however, her role as Meenal Arora, molestation victim in Shoojit Sircar’s Pink, which turned Taapse into an overnight rage and she became Bollywood’s favourite. Taapsi now plays the title role in Naam Shabana. Excerpts from an interview:

How is the year opening up for you?

Wonderfully! I enjoyed being part of romantic comedy The film, which I did before the shooting of Pink began, is co-produced by Shoojit Sircar. I was picked for Pink on the basis of Vikram Malhotra, the producer, recommended me for Baby. He introduced me to Neeraj Pandey. I also did a special appearance in The Ghazi Attack. I am looking forward to the release of Naam Shabana, followed by Judwa 2 and another horror comedy in Telugu.

Let us hear about Naam Shabana.

Shabana begins as a college girl, who participates in martial arts, besides other sports, at the university level. The action scenes had to look convincing and real. This would not have been possible without a basic training in martial arts. I loved playing Shabana Khan, a spy. In this action-oriented spy, I do not use any magic gadgets like James Bond does in his films. But I feel as a woman I have a better understanding of emotions and can combine and balance both emotions and physical skills with intelligence.

What kind of training did you take for this role?

Shabana is completely different from any other role I have done till now. It also has no similarity with me. I was told about this role after Baby was released. From then on, my mental training for the role began. For one-and-a-half years, I tried to internalise the role of a woman spy. During my research on famous women spies, I learnt that women are chosen in espionage specifically because their sensitivity is sharp and acute in certain matters and also because women are better at multi-tasking than men.

What kind of martial arts did you train in?

Neeraj Pandey believes in shooting realistic action scenes so training in martial arts was not an option. In this film, you will not see me jump from the ninth floor and land straight on the ground or beat up 50 persons in one go. I trained in the actual tricks of martial arts such as kicks, punches, stunts and defence techniques. I needed to apply all these in the film later on. I had begun to train while I was working in Baby. I continued to train after that and am into training now too because it keeps me fit and adds to my confidence. I have learnt that martial arts does not distinguish between male and female, big or small build because after one is trained, one can fell a guy triple your size. It is an extremely aggressive form of action.

What is special about Shabana, the character you play?

The film is about how Shabana became who she became. She is as physically strong as she is mentally equipped to take on any challenge. We were scared that this might break a few bones in my body but it did not. I hurt myself while training but not once during the shooting.


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