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Tamannaah Bhatia: With cinema changing so much, we need to pick universal subjects

Tamannaah Bhatia chats with Anita Britto about why she chose suspense thriller Khamoshi, her third collaboration with Prabhu Deva, and how cinema has changed its course

You started your career at age 15. How has the world of cinema changed, in your opinion?

Well, everywhere there is constant change because of technology. Content has become so different, primarily because of the new platforms that have emerged. Earlier, there were only feature films for entertainment, and you had to go to theatres to watch them. Today, entertainment is so easily accessible; it’s part of your day-to-day life. So, for us, to even draw people out to watch a film requires a lot of effort to make content even more exciting. In that sense, it’s more difficult now to grab the audience’s attention. This is a major change that everyone in the industry is seeing right now.

What was the reason behind taking up Khamoshi?

What was really exciting to me was the fact that it is a thriller and I play a person who is deaf and mute, something I’ve never done before. Also, the entire narrative of the film was interesting, raw and real. When you watch the film, you feel like the events are unfolding in front of your eyes.  The screenplay is really gritty, there’s nothing gimmicky, and I am glad they stuck to that. That was exciting for me.

Suspense thrillers are usually very challenging. Did you face any during this film?

Since I was playing a person who is deaf and mute, the timing of my reactions had to be very different from what it would be otherwise, and that is so minute a nuance that the audience may not even notice. But to get this right, we had someone on the set help me with body language and timing.

It was also a very physically challenging role after a point, because we shot at night a lot and there was a lot of action, a lot of running. There was constant physical movement, which was draining.  Along with that, it was also emotionally draining.

I fell ill while shooting too, so ill in fact that I had to come back to Mumbai for a day and get myself checked to find out if I was even fit to shoot. Even the weather was very gruelling. We shot in -2-degree temperatures, 20 nights in a row. It was depressing. It actually took a toll on me.

This is your third collaboration with Prabhu Deva. What is it like working with him?

Yes, we collaborated in Devi 1, Devi 2 and now Khamoshi and I think whenever I have performed with sir, my performance has been enhanced. He is a multi-talented person, he is a choreographer, actor and director. He plays all these roles with great ease and switches from one to the other  very easily. What I like the most about him is that when he acts in a film he completely surrenders to the director, doesn’t put his mind into direction or any other aspects, which I think is really commendable. It shows that he trusts the other person, which is a big lesson for younger actors.

You are part of the Telugu remake of Queen, That Is Mahalaxmi. Are you excited or nervous about the film?

I am excited and also nervous to see how people will react to the film.

When you do a remake of a film like Queen, does it add to the pressure?

Of course, it’s very stressful. It’s much better to shoot a fresh film, because there is no sense of comparison. When you are doing a remake, first there is a comparison in your own mind and it takes a lot to get rid of that. And, yeah, I think it’s a big challenge for me. But I am very happy that this opportunity came my way.

What is your reason for not doing many Bollywood films?

Well, my whole idea now is to pick good films; it doesn’t matter which space they are in. As long as there is an exciting script, I will grab it and work on it. So be it South or Hindi, I just want to create good content.

With cinema changing so much, is it more challenging for you to decide which script to pick up?

Yes, we have to constantly pick universal subjects which are acceptable everywhere, because I feel that a film is no longer a Tamil film, a Telugu or a Hindi film. If it’s a good film, it goes everywhere. Take Baahubali for example. It has a major fan following in Japan. So when creating content, we really need to focus on all audiences, not just ours.

Since web series are booming right now, would you consider being part of one?

Oh, absolutely. I think it’s a great platform for actors to showcase their work and play different characters, because there are no limits out there. It lets you go all the way. I would be thrilled to be part of a web series.

What’s next?

I am working on a couple of South films. Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy is a period film with Chiranjeevi sir, and I am doing a Tamil film with Vishal. I am also working on the Tamil remake of Anando Brahma. So, yeah, I have a couple of films lined up.  


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