Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

It’s pretty interesting how most of us associate with Tabu as a very serious actor, despite the fact that she’s also done a ‘Saajan Chale Sasural’, and ‘Hera Pheri’ apart from a ‘Chandni Bar’ or ‘Astitva’. You realise you have so many wonderful performances of hers to recall and that continues even with her recent films like ‘Haider’ or ‘Dhrishyam’. Meet Tabu and initially you’d find her slightly intimidating or hesitant to open up, but then here’s this charming, funny, articulate lady who makes for such a lovely conversation. With her hair tied into a bun, donning a classy black-white dress, she settles down to chat about her recent release ‘Missing’ as we also wax some nostalgia. Excerpts:

Let’s start with random things. The other day I just happened to see that song ‘Kiska Chehra’ from ‘Tarkieb’ and it remains timeless. How do you feel about the fact that films and songs you’ve done years back have such a recall value?
I don’t think it’s always important that something should last forever. Of course, you realise that you understand the reason why things which have lasted have lasted. And now you understand the value of emotional impact and power of movies, or music, or a performance. So, I think it’s a part of your finer tastes, it’s like soft power. These are things which enrich your life, that change you in some aspects. Every film or song does not necessarily have to do that, and I don’t think every film will have that power either but if they have done it, for instance, if you see an old film, like ‘Jaagte Raho’ or ‘Madhumati’ and if you still feel the impact then it says a lot about people who created it.

When you have such an elongated body of work, now when something comes to you, what is it that you expect from it? For instance, what did you see in the script when ‘Missing’ came to you?
‘Missing’ was actually going to be a very small, compact film which we were going to shoot within 20 days and three characters in a hotel resort in Mauritius. So, it felt very easy to go into that and finish it off within 20 days without understanding what would people expect from it. But it creates a world of its own, it’s in a different space so I think that’s what attracted me.

I really like your look in the film…so is there anything you took care of?
I was very particular about getting Hiral and Shabana, the girls who did my hair and make-up for the film. I wanted something different. I had just done ‘Haider’ and I was doing something after a while. I also had just one costume throughout the film so I thought let’s do the hair and make-up nicely. Of course, Sudeep Da has shot it beautifully. So, he made everything look nice.

This is also a good change after your last release ‘Golmaal Again’, and in fact over the years also, if one sees your graph, you’ve done even films like ‘Hera Pheri’, ‘Aamdani Atthani…’ along with those serious author-backed roles!
(Laughs) I love doing those films. ‘Aamdani…’ apparently is a TV favourite. Comedy and light-hearted films are the most fun to do. On the set, the atmosphere is the best to be a part of. But of course, I enjoy drama. Action I don’t enjoy at all, because you have to be alert and there’s too much to take care of. But I enjoy comedy and drama both equally!

But being understated as an actor, does that come from your own personality?
I think I am that person. But it depends on the requirement of the actor and how the director wants you to express. It’s a character on-screen. When you are required to be loud, you have to be loud so it actually depends on how the director has conceived your character.

Do you think there’s a dearth of good thrillers lately and something like ‘Missing’ might just fill in that space?
I really don’t know. I don’t like to keep big expectations from any of my movies and it’s just one film, so I don’t think it can make up for the dearth of films in the genre. Thrillers shouldn’t necessarily be a certain kind of film, I think, anything which gives you that kind of thrill and keeps you on the edge of your seat, it’s a thriller, even if it’s an emotionally charged story.

Do you think of it as a challenge to live up to the benchmark you’ve set for your own self with your performances in terms of the impact they’ve created?
For me, it’s actually the experience on a film, and you can never go and recreate a certain experience. You can just aim, hope, or aspire for an experience which is enriching for you and that is what takes you a step beyond what you have done. Or even if not beyond, at least somewhere there in some manner. You always know what you want to get out of a film or character and with every film I think that changes. I don’t know if it’s very healthy to think of the benchmark. Of course, you want to keep doing better, but I don’t know what’s better, especially in a field like ours where so many dynamics come into play. People should also be able to get what they expect out of you or they must get some value out of your work. I want to keep that in my films.

Hasn’t that been the case though? As in people do expect a certain quality when they come to know you’re starring in a film, owing to the experience you’ve given them. As an actor, is that your biggest takeaway?
I think so. I think if people identify you with good quality work, it’s fantastic because it makes you go that extra mile or at least be aware of expectations. Of course, no need to get bogged down by that but the least you can do it give quality to your work. Just because I’m there in a film, doesn’t mean that the audience will get an experience through a film on the whole. That I cannot promise but I can definitely try to give good quality where my work is concerned.

Talking of experience, can you pick out some of your most memorable experiences?
Astitva, Virasat, Maachis, Hu Tu Tu, Maqbool, Namesake, Life of Pi, Haider and Dhrishyam also. I think in recent times, ‘Dhrishyam’ is one of the most important films I did.

What do you want to take back from ‘Missing’?
It was great to work with Manoj after so long and the added attraction of the film was that, Manoj was producing it. He was tolerating my tantrums. He has done a very good job of it, but he was stressed also. So, I want this film to do very well, because I want him to earn a lot of money and I want Mukul’s first film to do very well for his sake.

What’s the line-up after this?
So, I have a Sriram Raghavan film which will come out this year. Of course, we don’t have a title for it. And, then there’s a Luv Ranjan film which we are starting this month.

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