Taapsee Pannu

Taapsee Pannu in a still from “Mission Mangal.” The actress told India-West that like most of her characters, audience will remember her after watching the film. (photo provided)

MUMBAI— Taapsee Pannu talks nineteen to the dozen. Happily, she admits that Akshay Kumar, with whom she is working for the third time in “Mission Mangal,” complains about this! Fresh and frothy from the success of “Badla,” Taapsee was full of unusual pep as we met for “Mission Mangal.”

Excerpts from an interview:

Q: With movies like “Mulk,” “Manmarziyan” and “Badla” and now this film, are you not one of those who have ushered in a new phase for Hindi films?

A: I think that, yes, I am a small part of a big change. I am lucky to witness it. Five years ago, I would say that I do not know how long would I keep working, but now I am sure I have a shelf-life and will work as long as I get good roles and people want to watch me!

Q: You are one of five heroines in Mission Mangal.”

A: Yes, but I am the ONLY one who says within the film that whatever we are trying to do can be possible. I don’t believe in the impossible. Like most of my characters, you will remember me when you leave the theater.

Q: But this ensemble film comes after definitive solo leads.

A: Yes, I would not like to be looked on as only the hero or solo lead of a film. I want to do films as time-pass or to relax as well. Like I would love to do a very relaxing film like “Judwaa 2” after three stressful films. Otherwise, I will go mad. I am having mood swings a lot already! I am doing “Saand Ki Aankh,” a movie after which I went, asking to be cast in it. And the relaxing “Mission Mangal” came looking for me! So that was nice!

Q: Why do you get stressed so much with work?

A: I have worked very hard to achieve a level, and I am so greedy. I never want to leave a good role. But the roles meri band bajaate hain (give me so much trouble)!

Q: All your three films with Akshay Kumar – none romantically opposite him – have been different, in terms of the importance of your roles and their lengths.

A (Laughs): Yes, and he complains I have become too talkative! How do I tell him that “Baby” was my second film and I was silent because I was scared I would be removed from the film if I was my normal self? I was also trying to understand the work-ethic here as well then!

Q: How do you now look at competition?

A: My race is with myself, to outdo what I have done earlier! I am getting good films, so I am happy. There is security today, as every kind of content has an audience, some more, some less, today. I must say, however, that competition spurs you on.

Q: Was there competition here between the five of you?

A: No, it was teamwork. The face-off kind of feeling was there in “Manmarziyan” when I thought, “This Vicky Kaushal is a terrific actor, yaar, he should not eat me up on screen!” I am intimidated by good actors rather than stars, be it “Mulk” or even this film.

Q: So, who did you find as someone worth being challenged by here?

A: Like I said, it was all about teamwork here. But I have always been fascinated by and admired Vidya Balan, who showed me that a woman can be the hero of a film many years ago, and gave me confidence.

Q: You are an outsider. What do you have to say?

A: Of course, I am! If I had been an industry kid, I would have been brought up in the lap of luxury, and I would not have the connect I and all my characters have with the common man, which I think is my greatest strength! The roles I choose and execute are very relatable. Being an outsider is my trump card!

Q: What do you have to say about being trolled by Kangana Ranaut?

A: Kangana is and was a very good actress, but she does not affect me. Life is too short, and I also cannot leave my dignity. There was a time when I would lose my temper for everything. Ab thak gayi hoon gussa hoke, yaar! (I am tired of being angry).

Q: Would you be open to do a film with her?

A: Why not?

Q: So you are not ‘Judgementall’ at all?

A (Laughs)

Q: “Naam Shabana” was a spin-off on your character in “Baby.” Which other characters of yours do you think deserve a spin-off?

A: Oh, there are so many, yaar!

Q: What about regional work?

A: I am doing some films.

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