An exclusive interview with Kanchana 2 actress Taapsee Pannu by Abhishek Krishnan

“Hello Taapsee, this is Abhishek from Behindwoods”, I said, my voice clearly telling that I was tired of waiting for the other media to finish off their interviews.

“Hi,” she said - her bright eyes transforming a lot of energy around her. The 20 minutes I spoke to her, she appeared lively and energetic in spite of the long day she had been having, spontaneously answering the questions I had set in my out-of-syllabus question paper.

From Vellaavi to the real aavi in Kanchana 2. What do you think is the challenge playing a ghost?

You’ve got to be convincingly scary. You should not come across as annoying, where people say that they are not scared and take this as comedy. That is the most difficult part. [Yes, especially when the ghost looks absolutely cute]

You tweeted on the release of Kanchana 2  that you watched the movie with your ‘lovely mass audience’. Tell us more about it.

Yeah at midnight on the release day. I watched it from the box in one of the mass theaters. I was tempted to look at the audience, more than at the screen and it was overwhelming to see them laugh and clap. That is one feeling we actors live for.

I had been struggling and seeing myself killed for the past two years. But it all seems like sweet pain for me now. [Claps, whistles and a big bow]

A horror script on paper is much different from what it is on screen. The performances, the sound, the music everything takes the scene to a new level altogether. What was that one scene that surprised you?

Actually, I did not get a written script. Lawrence sir just narrated the script to me. So I did not have anything on paper to follow. And I generally don’t see the monitor when I shoot, because I will start getting  concerned about the other things like my looks or angles than the performance and the character.

I believe that the director knows the character the best, so I leave it up to him to decide. So, everything I see on screen is as new as for the audience watching it.

That is why I can clearly tell you which part of my acting I liked or didn’t like. So, this particular scene in the second half of the movie where I come in a half saree for the first time. That scene surprised me as it was the most difficult and I felt I did justice to it. I am happy that I was able to pull the scene off the way I wanted to. [HALF saree in the second HALF - So much impact just by dealing in halves]

What is the difference between ‘dancing’ and ‘dancing with Lawrence’?

He actually selected me because he saw me dancing in a Telugu song and he loved my dance style. He said we were doing a duet song with graceful movements.

And trust me it was not as easy as it looked or sounded. They are small movements. But you won’t believe the amount of stress I had to go through. I started losing my own confidence because I was not understanding what he wanted and what wrong I was doing.  

He wanted the steps in a particular way and he made sure he got exactly that.. He did not compromise.

You cannot just make him okay a take unless he is 100 percent happy. [Well, we are 200 percent happy]

… it really looks fabulous on screen though

Yeahh!!! When I saw it on screen, I understood what he meant. You know the small jerks and the little swing here and there made a lot of difference. [You’ve just swung into our hearts Taapsee]

You have acted with Raghava Lawrence. Tell me one thing? Does he really have bones or has he replaced them with flexible plastic?

Ohohohoh!!! Actually, I have seen his dance performances only on screen and when I saw him dance, I was thinking - thank God he didn’t want me in any other song.  

… the opening song especially

OPENING SONG… I was like WHAT IS HE DOING… this is amazing, out of the world. And he had his brother also dancing along with him. Next time if Lawrence sir asks me to sign for a movie, I will first write it in the contract saying “sir please don’t make me dance like that.“ [Unless the ghost of a flexible toothbrush possesses you]

You have a very nice voice. When can we hear Taapsee's voice on screen?

I really want to do that. I was actually going to try for Vai Raja Vai. But I did not have time to experiment for it. Because we have to face it, I can’t dub perfectly in Tamil.

I can’t even take the entire credit for my acting because the dubbing artists put in a lot of effort. Seeing myself on screen, I don’t feel its me because its not my voice.

However I have started dubbing for my Telugu movies. I really want to do Tamil as well, it is only then that I would really feel I am a complete actor. [I COMPLETELY agree]

How many times have people asked the meaning of your name? And what has your answer been?

Everytime I meet a new person, they definitely ask me the meaning. It means Tapasvini. It’s a sanskrit word, which means female meditator. I am nothing like that though. But yeah, there has been a lot of meditation that went inside to make me like this. [Meditation is bliss - and so are meditators]

Every time you are on screen, you have impacted us in some way. As Irene you made people go crazy. As Anitha in Arrambam you confused people whether to laugh for your comedy or sit with widened eyes and mouth for the cuteness portrayed. What is Shreya of Vai Raja Vai going to do now?

It will definitely raise eyebrows. I have done something that I haven’t done before. But, I don’t know if people would take it in the good way or bad way. Before the release of Kanchana 2 too, I knew people were going to talk about it. But I didn’t know whether they’ll like me or not.

There were a lot of apprehensions when I signed this movie. I had people say “How can you do that kind of a role which is not a regular heroine role. People also told me, there is already a heroine in the movie, why would you want to do it.

When I was doing Arrambam people said, why are you doing a second lead when there is already Nayanthara in the movie. People will not notice you that much.

Even when I signed Kanchana 2, I got a message saying, ‘This is the end of your career. Why are you doing this kind of a movie. You are supposed to work with star heroes and do those kind of heroine roles.

But, I am not going for the guy. My character is strong on its own and does not have to do anything with the villain or with the hero. It’s going to have an impact of its own.

Every decision of mine has been like that. People have raised questions about it. But I have gone with my gut feeling and I will do honesty to my work. [When they raise questions, you raise answers and we raise our liking for you]

Your acting in Kanchana 2 was actually very good. the scene where you come and sniff Lawrence was amazing

Trust me, you don’t know how many retakes I took for that. Because he was so sure where I had to start, which angle I had to look and where I had to finish. He was so particular about each and every movement. My eyeball movement. My breathing pattern. Half my energy went just to convince him that it is an okay take. He is a perfectionist. [So all the acting was with the other half of your energy - we’re dealing with halves again]


What is that one thing you learned from…


The love for your profession. [His profession loves him too]


The knowledge a man can possess. [Great knowledge can create cute heroines]


The down to earth nature of a big star. [Stars twinkle better when on earth]


To make everything look so funny. [Yeah.. Why so serious?]


When he acts it does not look like he is acting. He makes it look so very easy. He just walks in front of the camera acts and leaves. [He must have practised acting along with his early morning walks]


Oh my God. The list is long. Overall I learned that nothing is impossible if you really want to do it. [awww….  those are GRACEFUL words]  

Aishwarya Dhanush?

Lot of woman power. [Reminds me of power puff girls]


Favourite song

Vaaya Veera.

Favourite scene

The scene when I come in the half saree [I FULLY liked that scene too]

Which is the portion where you think audience responded the most?

The interval block [It was an inter-vascular block]

Most scary scene?

When I come from the wall and transform into Ganga and walk like her. [... and your expressions were flowing like the Ganga river]

Most difficult scene to act?

The smoking scene. I don’t know how to smoke. I burnt my hair and all.

The most number of retakes you took?

The smoking scene again. I took some 25 retakes.

Did you laugh or jump over your seat more when you watched Kanchana 2?

Laugh more. Because I knew when the horror was going to happen. And I cannot practically get scared looking at myself.

One word Lawrence uses most in sets?

Yedho Nadanthitta…That is his pet dialogue. [Is it Yedho Nadakudhu or Nadandhidichu? Yedho Nadanthitta sounds better when you tell it.]

One word about Kovai Sarala's impeccable comic timing?

Oh oh oh. She is live wire. That is one word for her. LIVEWIRE. [I would call her ‘entertainment PEI’]

The best feedback for the movie till now?

This can’t be answered in a word. Before Kanchana 2 people have never commented on the versatility of my characters. But now, suddenly I have people coming up to me and appreciating me for the roles I have done in my previous films also. That is very encouraging. [Good luck with your future projects]