Taapsee Pannu says that “actresses were looked down upon” in Bollywood: “Many have said that you cannot invest as much money in us as …”
Actor Taapsee Pannu, who took part in a special actor roundtable for Netflix, had said that unlike the actresses who passed on the project, she didn’t care who her male co-star in Haseen Dillruba would be. Now the actress has given some clarification on this statement.
In an interview with Gulf News, Taapsee said, “My response has been interpreted into something else. What I said was that many actresses have asked this question about who the male actor in Haseen Dillruba is. But I didn’t ask the question of who will be my male counterpart because I was chosen first. The male role went to Vikrant. My character in Haseen Dillruba was the linchpin of the film and other characters were chosen for those who they think will complement the actor in this crucial role… This is how casting generally goes. The backing piece is poured first. But before me, several girls [actresses] wanted to know who was going to be the hero. Ideally, in our films, this is the first question that is often asked. And they want to know that because budgets are set around the hero of a movie.
Taapsee has talked a lot about pay equity in the Hindi film industry and has chosen films that focus on women. About being an actress in Bollywood, the actor said that “as a species we are sometimes looked down upon.”
She said: “As a Bollywood actress, our big scale was not that big anyway. As a species, we have been looked down upon at times, with many claiming that so much money cannot be invested in us because returns are not guaranteed. Suddenly this bane became our godsend because no matter what budget / scale an actress is given, it doesn’t get so big that I can’t meet the demands to return. An OTT [over-the-top, streaming] a female-driven outing will now guarantee a good profit regardless of its size.
Taapsee believes that the advent of OTT platforms has become a level playing field for actresses in the Hindi film industry. She said: “During this pandemic, more female-directed films have found an audience on OTT. It has become a level playing field for us and our budgets are such that we are never going to suffer losses now and our films have become a lucrative business for producers now. Films directed by women are now in a safe zone. It is the other large sums where the budgets are exorbitant which are today called into question. Personally, I will push all limits as an actor. The numbers we make are much lower than the big hero movies, but I’m happy that the returns for my movies are increasing every year. Now a producer can bet on me a certain amount because I guarantee returns. But the content and the director matter. Fortunately or unfortunately, a film’s budgets are allocated based on the protagonist or actor. It’s a sad rule. Neither of us like it, but we have to play by the rules.