Diversity is our strength, why are some Indians against it? Taapsee Pannu

Bhopal: Actor Taapsee Pannu said here on Sunday that India’s biggest strength, as well as what Indians need to get better at, is diversity. During a 45-minute interaction with DB Post, Taapsee spoke on several pertinent and current issues, and also about her latest film, ‘Mulk’, which is based on a Muslim family’s struggle to uphold its honour.

On being asked what is our country’s biggest strength and what we need to get better at, she replied, “The answer to both the questions is ‘diversity’. In fact, not just me, but the whole world believes that the kind of diversity India has is unmatchable. Be it food, language, weather, looks or culture. And we have managed to live in harmony and solidarity for so many years.”

“But, today, this very diversity has become our biggest concern. We are increasingly participating in conscious ‘othering’. People have started getting possessive about their religion, culture and caste. Anything that they do not identify as their own, they think of as a threat,” Taapsee said. “Diversity makes us unique, makes us different from the rest of the world, and we should embrace it wholeheartedly,” she added.

Has it been a conscious decision on your part to choose impactful characters?

No, it was not. Actually, when I entered Bollywood, I decided to do every kind of movie. Though I started with Chashmebaddur, when I got Baby, people thought I could do pull off strong characters and eventually I started getting such kind of roles.

I’ve been an athlete and I have the kind of physique that suits all these roles. That is why I didn’t find it difficult to learn martial arts for Baby or Naam Shabana. In fact, I literally grabbed that 10 min role in Baby. And when my director and the whole team saw my work, they decided to have a prequel of the film Naam Shabana. It was a huge compliment or achievement for me till date.

Do you feel that today’s youth is getting divided on religious and caste lines?

I won’t say that. Today, a large part of Indian youth is educated, and they think rationally. Those who indulge in these things are doing it because of a lack of education.

Is there a message that you would like to give to these misguided youths?

The thing is, we all are conditioned in a way that we start believing in things that, in reality, don’t exist. I just want to say to everyone reading this to¬†believe anything blindly.¬†Ask questions to anyone who is telling you to follow something. Be it a 9 pm curfew at home or be it anything related to religion. If you get logical answers, believe in that, but if not, change your thought process. If every youngster starts asking questions, it will help in changing the society for the better.

These days every girl wants to be like a celebrity, your thoughts?

I want to tell each one of them, ‘Embrace your Imperfection’. When I was growing up I had a huge issue with my looks and especially my hair. I did not want curly hair? And even got them straightened when I was in grade 12. But then I realised that it was actually more damaging to my hair. So I started accepting myself as I am. Today when I get messages of young girls in social media telling me they want to be like me, I always tell them that they should just be themselves. Their identity is as unique as mine or anyone else’s.

Do trolls affect you?

See, everything has it’s own pluses and minuses. Due to social media, I get feedback on my films and acting, directly from the audience, which was not possible earlier. Yes, it is also true that I get death threats and rape threats, but I believe that these are people who thrive on cheap thrills. I always love to see the glass half full.

Sharbani Banerjee & Tanmay Jain