Tabu: People could never bracket me as an actor
Post the success of AndhaDhun, Tabu explains why she could never be stereotyped and how she credits her film choices to her instinct
Are you surprised by the success of AndhaDhun?
It is an amazing thing to happen to any piece of art. These days, people tend to move on from a film in a week of its release, but with AndhaDhun, I am still getting calls and messages. A lot of credit goes to Sriram Raghvan and cinematographer K U Mohanan with the way he shot the film and the entire cast. The beauty of the film is its ending, and the options and possibilities are taking a life of its own. As an actor, it is enriching that the discussion is beyond box-office numbers. This is completely a new phenomenon for me. The film was made on a humble budget and the collections have been excellent, but what is important is that it has been unanimously loved and I haven't seen this happen with many films and that is what we are celebrating.
From Maqbool to Drishyam, most of the films you have been a part of are still being discussed. Do you feel invincible?
No, that would be a very strong and dangerous feeling to settle in. I feel gratified and a sense of pride in the choices I have made. The fact is that I was completely immersed in the process for every film. I just wanted to be the best at whatever I did. I never thought about the results. Having said that I didn't want to play just another heroine, neither did I aspire to play the good girl who is shy and smiles all the time. There are many layers in a woman and I want to explore all of them. So, my approach has always been different. That is why I think people could not understand me or bracket me as an actor. I would often hear people saying, 'Yeh Tabu hai kya, isko chahiye kya?' (laughs). I have always gone with the flow and followed my instincts.
Did you ever worry that the choices you made might not work?
I had no intention of becoming an actor. Everything in my life has happened by chance. I don't assess my work so much. It may seem that I have intellectualised the process because of the films I have chosen, but that's not the case. When I started out, I was doing several films at the same time and the roles were as different as chalk and cheese. In one film, I was playing a suicide bomber [Hu Tu Tu] and in another, I was a demure daughter-in-law [Hum Saath Saath Hai]. The sheer fact that I would get to portray various emotions was thrilling, which also helped showcase my talent. I had conviction in my choices as I knew they would work for me.
People start expecting more from actors like you even if it's a masala film. Does that put unwarranted pressure on you?
It makes me vigilant because at the end of the day we are working in an industry of perception. It can also become a problem if I get acknowledged only in content-driven films and not the masala projects. I don't do quality work because it is a perception.
You don't seem to be bothered about perception or image.
I guess that is because of my temperament. I never believed in rules and regulations. I never thought ki heroines aise expressions de rahi hai toh mujhe bhi waise hi karna chahiye. I always wanted to express myself as an actor and never thought of consciously breaking the mould. So when I wanted to do loud and hilarious roles like I did in Biwi No 1 (1999), I didn't think twice. And I had fun doing that film. In the same year, I did five other films and all the characters were different. But it never stemmed from the thought of challenging the norms or showing people ki main kuch alag kar sakti hoon.
You are collaborating with your longtime friend Ajay Devgn in De De Pyaar De.
It is a different experience with Ajay as this is a mature love story which we haven't attempted before. The film explores real relationships in a light-hearted manner. We have known each other for over two decades, so, it's been a great working relationship. On sets, it has never been a formal relationship and it never feels like we are working which is a good thing.
Tabu's next with Salman Khan
Despite featuring in several films with Salman Khan, Tabu has never starred opposite him. The trend continues as she does a cameo in Khan's next film, Bharat. "It's one of the most important scenes. If I had to do something in a film like Bharat, this would be it. I am happy to be a part of just one scene," she says and adds, "We have known each other even before he made his debut, so, I wouldn't say no to him. I also know that he and Ali Abbas Zaffar would not approach me to do something inconsequential.
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