From breathing life into Mira Nair's Namesake to romancing Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum, Tabu has a lot on her plate, finds SANGEETHA DEVI.K
After 18 years in this profession, I think I'm only answerable to the audience. Acting, in its purest form, has held me in good stead. A visit to Hyderabad spells more than just work for Tabu. She has finished shooting for a short film on HIV/Aids produced by BBC, but she is in no hurry to pack her bags to Mumbai. Her new home in Hyderabad is nearing completion and she plans to give the finishing touches. When that's done, she'll be back to court the arc lights for a few but coveted projects. "Things are turning out just as I wanted. Inshallah! I had taken a yearlong self-imposed break after Meenaxi. Feels nice to be working in some good projects again," she tells us.
The cause comes first
Being a celebrity, she knows that endorsing a cause is like living life on the razor's edge. Like she says, "I'll endorse a cause only when I believe in it. For instance, I'd like to do something substantial for the cause of the girl child. But I'd never want to draw unnecessary attention. I prefer the cause being highlighted rather than the celebrity associated with it." Talking about the series produced by BBC, Haath Se Haath Mila, she says, "It talks about people affected by HIV and are yet working in that field to create awareness. I shot an episode with one such victim who is doing voluntary work in Hyderabad."
When Vishal Bharadwaj signed Tabu to play Lady Macbeth in Maqbool, Tabu hadn't read the Macbeth. And neither did she want to, lest it affect the way she interpreted the film's script. But Mira Nair's screen version of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake was another tale altogether. "I had read the book much before Mira planned the film. Even back then, I could see myself playing the part of Ashima. As an actor, I am used to associating different characters in a book with different actors. When the film came my way, I felt like reading the book again. But I resisted that thought since I didn't want to be influenced too much by the book. I wanted Ashima to turn out the way I had perceived her. It's not a new character for me. I've done strong films like Astitva, Chandni Bar and so on... But the situations that influence Ashima are different. It's not easy to condense a book into a film. But where Namesake is concerned, Jhumpa Lahiri is pleased with the film." The buzz is that the film will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival later in May. Speaking of films that have been inspired by books, Tabu adds, "Very few films do justice to a book. On that account, I enjoyed Bridges of Madison County. Meryl Streep breathed life into the entire film."
A few good films
In the making are select projects - Kunal Kohli's Fanaah co-starring Aamir Khan and Kajol, Cheeni Kum with Amitabh Bachchan, and a Tamil film to be directed by Gautam Menon. Having shot for Fanaah in Poland a few weeks ago, Tabu shrugs, "The makers don't want me to talk about the film now." But she is more forthcoming on acting with Amitabh Bachchan. Remind her that Bachchan had once confessed that one Indian actress he would like to act with is Tabu and the actress smiles, "What can I say? It's tough to express it in words when someone like him appreciates your work. We'll start shooting for Cheeni Kum in April. It's a mature love story, but not a serious film. We both play our respective ages." Detractors accuse her of being too selective about her films. Tabu shrugs it off with, "I do projects that I'd like to be associated with. At different points of time, different thoughts have influenced my choice of films. I don't do a film to prove a point to anyone. I am at ease doing a strong social film and at the same time, I don't mind doing an entertaining, light-hearted film. "After almost 18 years in this profession, I think I'm only answerable to the audience if they feel I've done a bad job. Acting, in its purest form, has held me in good stead. When I'm focused on that, everything else is secondary."