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Taapsee Pannu On Her Growing Penchant  For Playing The Female Hero

Taapsee Pannu Speaks to  Subhash K Jha On  Her Growing Penchant  For Playing The Female Hero

Having made a habit of playing the female hero what gravitated towards Rashmi Rocket?

Taapsee Pannu It’s not really true  that  I gravitate  only towards  female  hero roles. It just happens  to be that  way. It’s not like  I tell myself , ‘Let’s do this because I play the protagonist.’ It’s just a snowball effect because of  the kind of films I do. If I feel the script binds me  as an audience for those two hours, I do it.

Rashmi Rocket  is based on the controversial subject of gender tests for athletes. How much did you know about  this archaic practice ?

Taapsee Pannu: I myself didn’t know   about gender tests when I was offered  Rashmi Rocket.   I had  to do research.And  the more research I did the more shocked I was. It felt so unfair to female athletes. I love  sports and athletics and I  wasn’t aware of  it! It sounded so  crazy  to have them go through gender tests  after all the struggle they  already have to go through as  female athletes.  It bothered me.

Female athletes as a rule face many more hurdles than their male counterparts.Do you think there should be better work ethics for women in sports?

Taapsee Pannu: Female athletes  do have to go through  much  difficulties than male, whether it is gender testing or sponsorship disparity.Of course things  need to get better  for  female athletes. The change  is not in my hands. But I can create an awareness  through my  medium. Rashmi Rocket is not like  other  underdog sports stories.  From the time we see her  on screen Rashmi is a hero.In that sense it’s  not   a  regular  athlete’s story.

Is that what  got your attention?

Taapsee Pannu: It wasn’t like  a regular film about an athlete. It’s  also a  film about identity. There  should be  no one out there  to tell you whether you are  a woman enough—enough  by whose  definition? This film tells the audience  to let the woman or  for that a man, live the way you want to live. This is  a  major identity issue that needed  to be  addressed.

Playing an athlete comes naturally to you how much preparation did this one require?

Taapsee Pannu: I love sports. Playing  an athlete  comes naturally to me .So the  excitement  of playing an athlete  takes care of  the  energy level  in playing the  part. Having  said that , the training took a  lot of  effort. Every day after  I  finished  training I thanked my stars  it’s  just for a film and not for real.

Why?

Taapsee Pannu: It’s just so hard to do it.I used to train and  shoot every day which  used to make my day  stretch out to 15-16 hours .Every day I had to get up at 6 am  train for  two hours  and then report for  shooting from  9 am to  9pm. Even my bathroom time was rushed. This schedule went on for months. Then five months  of  question mark when the  first lockdown was  called.Then  when I resumed training  we had to start from scratch.  Because an  athlete’s body is not something you can maintain  by working out from  home. That entire perseverance  had  to  be  reinstated. I could write an entire book on my training tribulations  for Rashmi Rocket.

Is Rashmi Rocket  Dutee Chand’s story?

Taapsee Pannu: It’s been said time and  again that Rashmi Rocket is  not  one athlete’s story, that  this gender testing has been happening to female  athlete’s  time  and  again in India. Kudos to  Dutee Chand  for fighting back. There were  others  who went into oblivion. But it is not really her story.Beyond the gender testing there is  no  similarity.

How would you define this role in your career? Would you place it up there with Pink and Thappad?

Taapsee Pannu: All I can tell you  is,this  has  been the hardest role of my career. It not only required a physical  training but also a rigorous  emotional  procedure to get close to her character.  Rashmi is  unlike any woman I know.When  her gender  is questioned she starts  questioning her  own femininity. \

Have you taken up any new offers?

Taapsee Pannu: I haven’t signed anything new during the last few months. I already have so  much on  my plate.I have three films ready  for release,after that  I am working on Shabaash Mithu  . Then there  is my own production Blurr. In November I’m starting a  film called  WohLadki Hai Kahan.I have a very busy 2021 and  2022 as well.

You turn  producer and blind in Blurr?

Taapsee Pannu: Yes I’ve turned  producer with Blurr. And I play a blind girl. It’s  been a very satisfying experience .I will release  it next year.

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