Taapsee Pannu’s happiness and excitement knew no bounds after she bagged a Rajkumar Hirani film co-starring Shah Rukh Khan. “It is probably that the biggest ever I could have got,” exclaims the actor, adding “It’s too good to be true. I never even thought that I’ll eventually someday reach this, forget about so soon. So, I myself wasn’t announcing or talking about it because I just didn’t want to jinx it in any way.”
Asked about her first reaction on knowing that she’s going to star in such a big project, Pannu says, “There’s no shying away from accepting that I don’t know if it can get bigger than this ever for me. Hence, the disbelief of being a part of it was lingering one till the time I reported on set and the first day of shoot was done.”
Pannu reveals that not just her, even her sister, Shagun, kept asking even after the first day of the shoot was done that whether she was still on board the film. “Each time I went for the meeting with Raju sir, or reading or any conversation I had with him on phone, every time I came back home, she asked me, ‘Tu abhi bhi hai na film mein?’ My parents, however, didn’t give me any noticeable reaction, also maybe they’ve also understood that till the time it happens, let’s not celebrate too early.”
It was in 2020 when the reports first surfaced that Hirani is considering Pannu for his next and she admits she thought it to be “yet another rumour, which will make you happy for a while, but nothing’s going to happen”. However, a call from Hirani was all it took to change everything for her. “He said, ‘Now that it’s already out, let me officially call you and say that I’m doing this film, and I’d love you to be a part of it.’ Raju sir was so excited about the whole project and the way it was coming together that he, on that first call itself, started narrating me the first two scenes,” recounts Pannu, who has shot for almost 10 days on the film.
So what was a bigger joy — being directed by Hirani or sharing screen with Khan? “Actually, both in different ways. Film’s are a director’s medium; I’m not a very trained actor, so I get very excited to know who’s going to direct me. When I knew it was Raju sir, I was just looking forward to working with a man who makes stories so simple, yet so likable, engrossing, endearing and charming. He doesn’t make that intense multi-layered, multi-twisted cinema yet it’s so captivating. Also, the kind of range and age group of audience that connects with his films, is huge,” shares Pannu.
On working with Khan, she adds, “With Shah Rukh sir, what I was most looking forward to spend that time off-screen with him, where I can just sit in chat with him, because I love his personality beyond his films as well — the wit, the humor, the experience that he has, and the honesty with which he narrates his experiences. I wanted to hear those experiences that he’s gone through in those decades of creating what he has created.”
In her tweet announcing the film, Pannu had written, “It’s hard to make it till here, and it’s harder when you are all by yourself… cheers to honesty, hard work and perseverance. Almost 10 saal lage but finally all is well.”
Talking about what she meant when she said ‘all by yourself’, the actor explains, “Sitting in Delhi, 10-12 years ago, I’d have possibly said to myself, ‘Yeh nahi hoga, yeh kaise ho sakta hai?’ At max, you’d be able to do a few noticeable films in your career and that’s about it… you forget about reaching this level. I have no one to pick up the phone and make a call [to a filmmaker] to and push my name [for a project]. So, the thrill of a person who could never even imagine this as a dream, and had this call come from Rajkumar Hirani himself… this is as clean, neat and credible way of getting something.”
Interact with the author on Twitter/@monikarawal