The lead pair of Running Shaadi.Com, Amit Sadh and Taapsee Pannu, in conversation with Team Box Office India
Box Office India (BOI): Running Shaadi.Com has a very unique concept, of getting couples to elope and getting them married. How did this idea originate?
Taapsee Pannu (TP): This was the writer, Navjot Gulati’s idea. He thought of making this film and he spoke to Amit Roy.
Amit Sadh (AS): (Cuts in) They eloped! (Laughs)
TP: Yes, they eloped and got the idea; we just executed it. Writing aur sab kaam dono ne kar liya tha, we just executed the idea. Thank God they thought up this idea because in every other movie, we watch couples running away and getting married. We never get to see those who help them run away and get married.
AS: We are very helpful people.
TP: Yes, social service.
AS: It’s a social side…social service.
TP: We have given a free business idea to the world, let’s see who uses it.
BOI : How did you come on board this film?
AS: How did we come on board? Umm…
TP: I came on board because of…
AS: (Cuts in) Directors… she was on the Board Of Directors (Laughs). And just so you know, Taapsee is the main lead in this film.
TP: I am the main lead and he is the male lead.
AS: I am just a male lead but she is the ‘main’ lead.
TP: Please don’t embarrass me. It’s just a joke.
AS: It’s not a joke. When people watch the film, they will see for themselves.
TP: Okay, so genuinely, how I came on board is that I met the director, Amit Roy, and after 15 minutes of conversation, he handed over the script, saying, ‘Please read it and let me know if you would want to be a part of this.’ Ten to 15 minutes of conversation was enough for them to decide that if it’s a newcomer, then the film chooses you.
AS: Yes, a newcomer who has already done 10 to 15 films.
TP: But, for them, I am a newcomer.
AS: You’re right, you said ‘for them’. I am her spokesperson along with being her co-star.
TP: Yes, very helpful also. So my audition was those 10 to 15 minutes. I read the script and thought it was an easy film to do. It’s a different matter that, as an actor, I discovered a part of me that I didn’t know existed, thanks to this film. I landed roles in Baby and Pink after I did this film.
AS: (Cuts in) Aur naam toh sunna he hoga, Naam Shabana.
TP: I will definitely keep him for the promotions of Naam Shabana. I want to thank Roy for opening me up as an actor. Now he will tell you how he came, jumping on board.
AS: I toh came on a snowboard.
BOI: Can you tell us something about your characters?
TP: Nimmi is me. That’s why I accepted this film, or maybe they thought, isko acting aati nahin hogi yeh jaise hai waise usko film main le aao. So, basically, Nimmi is me, the only difference being that I am from Delhi and Nimmi is from Punjab. I have grown up a bit but Nimmi has not. The way I talk, the relationship I have with my parents, my body language and the way I speak to my friends family is exactly the way I am in real life.
In this film, I have used nuances from many of my relationships in real life because I come from exactly the kind of family shown in the film, a typical middle-class family. Trust me, the way films portray a Punjabi family is very different from what it is like in real life. In the movies, the family is shown as being very loud but that is incorrect. I am a Sardarni and we don’t talk like that at all.
AS: (Laughs) That’s what you think… that your volume is low!
TP: No, we don’t always shout, we are happy too. We also modulate our voice and you will see this in the film. It’s not a caricature… our characters are not caricatures of a Bihari or a Punjabi in this film. What about your character, Bharose? It’s full of bharosa.
AS: My character is a boy from Bihar, who comes to Punjab and works in a shop and sells lehengas. He lacks in confidence. He sells lehengas, saying, ‘Aaao aunty, dekho, yeh Pammi ke shaadi ke liye sahi rahega.’ He meets his owner’s daughter, Nimmi, and a very immature love story starts to unfold.
For me, the big challenge was that the character had nothing in common with me. I found that exciting. I landed this film after Kai Po Che! My character in that film was very intense and vulnerable, so honestly it was very difficult for me to play this character. Sometimes, I used to tell the director and the writer that aapne mujhe lines hi nahin di hai toh me kya bolu.
TP: I think this was, by far, my easiest character to play whereas, I think, for him, it was the most uncomfortable because he doesn’t identify with
AS: But I do identify with the soul of Bharose. I like to believe that I am a very people’s person for the people I love in real life I stand for them, I am always ready to take a bullet for them, or am always ready to take the fall for them. I think that kind of gave me some kind of common ground to work with Bharose.
BOI: The concept of eloping is very serious in India. How was it given a comic angle?
AS: In life when you see tragedy it looks comic and in India, marriage is a big dispute, I think it’s like a parallel religion in India. If you are getting married, there is a problem and if you are not then there is a problem. Full credit to our writer Navjot Gulati for creating a script with these characters from small-town India. It was drafted very well, with so much comedy and fun around the story. The story is set in Punjab, a region that has a lot of colour, music, food and people who are hyper-sensitive emotionally, and take things very seriously. We incorporated all that into the film.
What also fascinated me was the beautiful love story between me and Taapsee… Nimmi and Bharose. You generally see a love story between a cool guy and a cool girl but this film is about uncool people who have a heart. It’s about how they survive despite their constrained personalities. It’s a very rooted film, a very grounded film.
TP: Yeah, it’s a story about uncool people, that’s quite nice.
BOI: So Nimmi and Bharose decide to run away in this film.
TP: No, no, if you try and predict the end… that I make him run away with me or he makes me run away… nothing like that happens. Many movies have been made on the concept of shaadi but don’t try to predict the end. It would be useless. Just sit back and enjoy the movie and laugh your heart out.
AS: Have blind faith in us and tell us on February 17, 2017.
BOI: Taapsee, you have worked with Shoojit Sircar previously. Have you built a certain comfort level with him?
TP: Actually, this is the film that got me Pink. This is the film that Shoojit dawatched and then, without any audition, I got Pink. I have never met Shoojit da at length or had a conversation with him before I landed on the sets of Pink. He just knew who I was, my work, what I was capable of doing, and why this film was so important to me. That’s what got me Pink. So, those who wonder how I landed the role in Pink should watch Running Shaadi.Com. This is the first association and Pinkwas the second association with Shoojit da.
BOI: In any romantic comedy, the right chemistry between the lead couple is very important. Was it something that happened on the set or was it rehearsed?
TP: Our chemistry is… We are not self-conscious around each other as we’ve known each other for three years. We have also worked on ads and short films together, with really good directors, and Shoojit da directed
one of the advertisements with both of us. Also, people have loved us when they have seen us together. I guess there is something interesting but who knows what.
AS: I think we are very fond of each other, we respect each other, and I am not saying this because we are doing this film together or promoting it.
I’m fond of her, I respect her as a woman, as an actor, her fighting spirit, also her courage.
TP: I remember during the screening of Pink, we had two screenings – one was at 6 o’clock and the other was at around 9 o’clock. He not only attended both screenings but he was there partying and celebrating Pink’s success, and I had left after the screenings! He was talking to me for hours during the screening of Pink, he did not leave my side all evening.
AS: I was like a bodyguard to her. Finally, at 2.30 am, Dada told me I should go home. He said, if I didn’t, people would know I didn’t have any work. And that’s how the equation should be. She is my colleague, she is my co-worker, she is a friend and she is a person I admire. I have seen her grow as an actor immensely. It’s good to take pride in each other’s success. She is great in the film because she has all the great lines. If they had given me good lines, I would have also shown some kamaal.
TP: When we were doing Running Shaadi.Com, there was a certain kind of awareness, not pressure. Everyone on the sets expected him to act brilliantly as they had seen him in Kai Po Che! He is the anchor in the film.
BOI: The movie is targeted at the youth. What is the USP of the film?
TP: There is something very real about the film. People can relate to each and every character. Neither are we trying to give you a heroic character nor a caricature which has been done to death. All the situations are very real and relatable. We haven’t added anything for the sake of comedy; there is no forced entertainment. And when it comes to a slice-of-life film, the characters should be relatable, especially for the youth, they’re our godfathers. Jinka koi nahi hota, unka audience hota hain.
AS: I think it is an interesting world. Funny, quirky, easy, breezy world.
BOI: Each of you is at the beginning of your careers and this film is riding on your shoulders. Does that weigh you down?
AS: The moment Pink became a hit, I messaged Taapsee and said, ‘Maa, I have no ego in admitting that Running Shaadi.Com is on your shoulders.’ She is behind every successful film of hers.
TP: He says anything under the sun. But, yes, we have supported each other immensely.
AS: First, let the film be a hit and then we will see.
BOI: What is next for both of you?
AS: After Running Shaadi.Com, I have Sarkar 3. I also have a couple more films coming up. I am taking it one at a time.
BOI: Taapsee, you have done Pink and now Running Shaadi.Com. That was a drama and this one is a comedy. Your versatility is coming out.
TP: Before this, I did Baby, a film people didn’t expect me to do. People didn’t expect me to do a film like Pink and I did that. It’s good that I am doing films which people are not expecting me to do. I am very grateful to all the directors who see a spark in me. They believe I can pull off all these different characters. It’s their vision that helps me choose these films. Thankfully, I’m getting versatile roles and genres and films, whether action, drama, thriller, love story.
AS: Only erotica is missing.