Tabu is happy to be part of the magic called ‘Life of Pi’ despite having a brief role

First came the still showing the Bengal tiger and Pi Patel on a life boat against silvery white skies and blue waters, followed by the theatrical promo with jaw-dropping footage. To say the least, Ang Lee promised a stunning visual treat. As one absorbed the visuals and the first glimpse of debutant Suraj Sharma, the attention was also on Tabu and Irrfan, whom we last saw together in Mira Nair’s The Namesake.

“Irrfan and I have no scenes together this time,” says Tabu. Ang Lee watched The Namesake and contacted Tabu for the role of Gita Patel, mother of Pi Patel. His approach was matter of fact. He told her it was a brief role and he hadn’t contacted anyone else. “What more can I ask for? It felt great that someone of his stature chose me. I can live with that feeling for a long time. Ang Lee needn’t have told me anything. I would have agreed anyway,” she says.

This isn’t the first time Tabu is featuring in an adaptation. Maqbool was Vishal Bharadwaj’s interpretation of Macbeth and The Namesake was based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s book of the same name. Tabu didn’t go back and read the books while working on those films. Likewise, she didn’t reach out for Yann Martel’s book this time. “I believe in the script given to me and the director’s vision,” she reasons.

When she talks about Life of Pi, it’s obvious she enjoyed the experience. “Ang Lee has a Zen-like and internalised approach to work. I felt lucky to be part of this huge production, quietly observing magic being created,” says Tabu.

Post The Namesake, would more international offers have come her way if she had taken the help of an international casting agent? “There were a few offers but I was busy with projects in India. I don’t know if an international agent would have helped. Mira Nair and Ang Lee reached out to me when I was in India. And I’ve been doing the best of projects offered to me. I have to be absolutely comfortable about any project I take up. The final product is not in my hands. But I like to work with good teams and good directors,” she says.

The last we saw Tabu was in a guest appearance in Santosh Sivan’s Urumi. Time and again, she’s been asked about her limited appearance on screen. She dismisses these questions with her characteristic laugh. “Neither me nor my sister (Farah) have gone looking for work. I aspired to be a part of good cinema and got to work with some of the best directors who spoilt and pampered me by making filmmaking an enjoyable process. These days I sense a lot of pressure in the way people work. I’ve gone through that stage and don’t want to do it now,” she says.

Next, she will be seen in a cameo in Bejoy Nambiar’s David. “Bejoy wanted me to do the role and since he had assisted Mani Ratnam, I agreed. I had to shoot only for five days,” says Tabu.

Again, she is ready start on a blank slate after Life of Pi. “I haven’t accepted any film now. I’ll wait for something good. Life of Pi is larger than any of its actors. It’s a culmination of a good story, script and filmmaking. When I look at it from an outside perspective, I am happy to be part of it,” she signs off.

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