Not many actors get the opportunity to play the role of both Lady Macbeth and Gertrude. Tabu has, albeit in a different language and in different interpretations and only she could have done justice to those characters. Tabu has a very simple approach towards acting the text. She never reads the classics. She only reads the scripts that are given to her and interprets the characters in her own way. And she says that she is extremely thankful to have worked with a director like Vishal Bharadwaj “who gives me these incredible characters to play. He believes that I will be able to play them well“.
From a rather forgetful start in the Indian Film Industry with Prem to becoming one of the most accomplished actors of our time, Tabu has come a long way. At the Vivel Women and Words session at Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Festival , she spoke about that journey, her growth as an actor, her penchant for playing characters out of classics, her regret of not being offered more ‘mainstream’ roles, about the pay disparity and much more. Tabu has always been viewed as the queen of arthouse, someone who probably would never even look at a typical Bollywood film script. She actually is quite the opposite and that was a rather surprising discovery. She loves the mainstream and says that “people have created this perception of me because they think that I am only going to do serious films” Drishyam is a movie she particularly enjoyed working in because it gave her the chance to don the uniform of a police inspector, play the role of a very strong woman and in her words “kick some a$$‘. And would she do a Biwi No 1? “Yes, absolutely. Biwi No 2. 3, 5, 10, all of them“. Quite the paradox no?
Of Haider, she did have her reservations about the odd pairing of herself and Shahid Kapoor. She was apprehensive about playing Shahid’s mother and it took a lot of convincing from Vishal Bharadwaj to make her say yes to being Ghazala Meer . She knew it was a layered, complex role but she is glad that Vishal Bharadwaj gave her the liberty to interpret the character in her own way. When asked by Ankita Mukherjee about the Oedipal relationship between mother and son in Haider, she said that Ghazala’s character has “too many layers. It is difficult to understand who she is, what she is thinking. She is so ambiguous“
Tabu is a delight to listen to. She is charming, intelligent and there is a child-like innocence about her which is endearing. A lady asked why someone who so beautifully enacts emotions on screen does not write a book? She smiled and replied in Bangla “Cheshta Korbo” We will be waiting Tabu 🙂
The Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Festival is on till 26th January. For details and schedule of events, check their website or search with hashtags #TataSteelKalam or #KolLitMeet
This post is written in association with Kolkata Literary Meet.