Excl! Taapsee: I’d lost volume and frame

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It’s never easy when you’re shooting for a role that’s mentally taxing. But it’s equally difficult if not more when you’re shooting for a role that is physically daunting. Taapsee Pannu with films like ‘Pink’ and ‘Badla’ has experienced the former. Shooting films like ‘Rashmi Rocket’ and ‘Looop Lapeta’ is not a cakewalk and it’s making her experience the latter.
We spoke to Taapsee exclusively, just an hour ago. Here’s the conversation that transpired…

Did you know that ‘Rashmi Rocket’ would be such a gruelling shoot when you signed it?
Well, I certainly knew it was the role of a sprinter. Yes, there’s a difference between knowing and actually doing it. But I decided then and there that I want to go all out and do nothing half-hearted. We had the benchmark of a male sprinter’s story set by ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag‘ in India and I wanted to live up to it. The stories of ‘Rashmi Rocket’ and ‘Bhaag Milka Bhaag’ are very different but I didn’t want any discrepancy in my portrayal. But I guess, the challenge here was bigger in a way
Why?

You don’t have as much a budget in female-driven films as you have in male-driven ones. So you can’t rely on VFX, you have to work on your body. Besides, a female cannot invest a full year in a film because she isn’t paid as much as her male counterpart. Hamere film ka budget itna hota hai jitna ek male actor ki ek film ki fee hoti hai. And if I decided to invest a year in the prep and shoot of a film, I would be losing out on 5 films. That just won’t be practical. The kind of stuff that I am now getting is something that I can hardly say ‘no’ to.

Please continue…

I had spent two-and-half months prepping up for ‘Rashmi Rocket’ when the lockdown happened. It was a big blow to me. Going to gyms was ruled out as they were closed. And what I wondered how I would do after acquiring the prerequisites required in a sports person’s body. I had put in so much effort. I was just stumped on what to do.

So you lost the frame that you had built for ‘Rashmi Rocket’?

Yes, I lost frame and volume both. But the good thing was that I had kept my workouts going at home. I had to keep my stamina alive or else I would have had to start from scratch. I didn’t want to lose my stamina that I had consequently built up due to the extensive prep that I had done. So, I was doing my workouts twice a day. Sometimes I would run in my building for a distance of 2 km. Every day, I would climb the 45 floors in my building.

45 floors? Hope you were at least coming down in the lift when you wanted to return to your floor…

(Laughs) Nope, climbing down is easy.

Weren’t you scared during the lockdown that ‘Rashmi Rocket’ might not be made? You know how plans have changed on many projects in the Corona period…

No, I was not scared. Film honi hai yeh to pucca tha. It’s just that the shoot had come to a halt due to the Corona attack. We weren’t shooting for 5 months, but we all were committed. Besides, a lot of money had gone down into it before the lockdown.

Call it my luck that I was shooting for a South film in Jaipur and gyms around where I was staying were open. This made my body reach a decent level from where I could start on ‘Rashmi Rocket’. The ultimate scene was the final big race, In fact, I am now in the midst of that only. It’s going to be shot over a period of 3 days.

You have lifted a lot of weight in your training to make your body strong. But was it easy? And didn’t your mom or dad say that ‘bas karo’? Parents are not very comfortable seeing their kids doing heavy weight-lifting…

Well, it wasn’t easy. It started with the basic weight but it was challenging as I went along. But I was getting very motivated. Lekin haan, my mom was very bothered. She feels why she sits at my location, but this time I had her come down so that she could bring homemade food on the sets which was needed for me to get into shape. This first happened when I was shooting for ‘Haseen Dilruba’. But yes, she did ask me when it will end. Seeing your kid running all over the place at 5 am in Haridwar, coming back and rushing for a film (‘Haseen Dilruba’) shoot and eventually coming home to only crash is not easy. And imagine! I then called her again in Mumbai, when I started shooting for ‘Rashmi Rocket’.

You said you were getting motivated. How?

By seeing cuts appearing on my body and the muscles getting firmer and stronger.

Believe me, we had the budget of trainers but didn’t have the budget for calling people to shoot my on-going process which would have given me the idea of how I looked before and how I look now.

What were the dos and don’ts in the diet?

The primary discussion was that we won’t take a shortcut, which is that I won’t take steroids.

Was that discussed?

Yes, that was discussed on the first day in the meeting that we had with our trainers. It was an easy way to go about in this, but I want to live a long and happy life. I have seen people causing irreversible damage to their body due to the steroids they’ve taken.

My diet was a balanced diet. I did not cut down on carbohydrates. It does not always depend on what you eat. It depends how much you eat and how it is made. So yeah, I didn’t put on much weight- just 2 kg or so, that too was muscle mass.

But you’re on the thinner side, anyway…

No, that’s a myth. I tend to put on weight very easily if I am not careful. My dietician had to work very hard to put my metabolism right, which in fact happened before ‘Rashmi Rocket’ came to me. I have a metabolism problem, which I got genetically from my mother. No matter what I ate, it didn’t go down well with me. So to nullify the weight gain, even today, I work extra hard in my regular workouts.

‘Looop Lapeta’, produced by Tanuj Garg and Atul Kasbekar, started alongside…

I was alternating recently on ‘Rashmi Rocket’ and ‘Looop Lapeta’. Incidentally, ‘Looop Lapeta’ also requires me to indulge in a lot of running. After all, it’s a remake of ‘Run Lola Run’!

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