Indian actor Tapsee Pannu recently announced the launch of her own production house, Outsider Films. Most recently seen in Netflix’s Haseen Dilruba, the actor-turned-filmmaker opens up on how she plans to take things forward on the new front. The 33-year-old actor now has a badminton team, a wedding planning agency and a production house.
Taapsee Pannu is looking forward to the release of some of the most anticipated movies of the year in Hindi film industry, including sports drama Rashami Rocket and biopic Shabaash Mithu, based on the Indian cricketer Mithali Raj.
In an interview, she talks about her new production house Outsider Films, what made her launch her own production, how she hopes to keep her kind of films in production as well and more. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Tell us about the germination and realization of your latest business venture.
Honestly, the germination came mainly from the people I have worked with over a period of time. I do not ever feel that I am one of the best actors or anything like that, but I feel that I am a keen and quick learner. When on sets, I have my radars on and I want to learn everything, not just my work but also other stuff around – how to make things smoother. Most of my producers repeated me (in their projects), perhaps they considered me good enough. The people I worked with felt that I am a producer-friendly actor and if I turn a producer, it will be good. However, I laughed it off. Production is a tough job, it is so much of responsibilities so I never took it seriously. Until I started noticing that there are lot of male actors who become producers, and they go for profit share, instead of getting into all the jobs involved in production. That was something that was already happening and these people were already doing it.
However, I realized there is so much more to production. I have worked with producers who made my life, as an actor much more easier because of the way they handled the production of their films. I would not like to name, but there have been times when, on set, I felt like ‘this is not really put together well’. And then there have been times when I felt it has been so good and toughest of things felt so good and smooth. I realized how important it is for everyone to have a comfort zone, and that is provided by producer. It is a tough job but important job.
I realized I cannot be doing it all, while also acting. My brain would be occupied with my performance. Other female actors are doing it, but they have someone from family to take care of things and help them run the show. No one in my family even remotely knows filmmaking. So I thought, ‘maybe this is not my cup of tea’. And, then I met Pranjal Khandhdiya. He was representing Sony Pictures at the time when we worked on Soorma. We hit it off really well and he came up with the idea. He asked me if I would like to be his partner. It was a no-brainer for me because I knew he has the expertise and sensibility to run the show. I may not contribute as a producer, I do not have that kind of experience, but maybe I have a knack to choose things. I could help with the creative department, in choosing the films. People know me for certain kind of films and I would like to continue doing those kind of films, even as producer. Not just as someone who is sharing the profit but also who will run the show.
How are you managing the finances on this new journey?
For production, you need to put in a certain amount of initial money, for development of the project. We have been lucky. My first film, which I am co-producing, and for which I am in Nainital right now, I joined it as an actor first. It was much later that I came on-board as a co-producer, the studio came in the picture and the director was brought on- board. Not much of development fee went into the first film. When a studio is onboard, the cash flow is smooth.
We have not reached the stage where we want to make something and then go to studios to sell it. Right now, we will get stakeholders enter into an agreement and then get a studio onboard so it becomes smooth to handle the finances. Later, we will get to the stage when we can create our own product and then take it to platforms or studios.
How will being an actor influence the decisions of producer Taapsee Pannu?
The sensibilities remain the same, as they are as an actor. I always take up a project based on whether it will sell a ticket, will people spend money on this. Or is it just something with which I want to do to satisfy my creative juices? I don’t normally do films that may be considered a classic ten years later. I pick topical subjects, choose stories that are worth the time and attention of people, issues that affect people right now; and those that will entertain you. It should be something that holds your attention for two hours. That is entertaining for me. Same criteria would apply for producing films. As of now, I do not think anything else will influence my decisions. There will be so many films that I won’t act in but only produce.
Will there be a time when market demands will affect your choices for films?
For me, it is always about whether the film is worth the time and money of the audience. I never decide films basis. I do not know art, I did not study it. This profession (film making) has space for all kinds of backgrounds. There is a section that concentrates on art and making classics that stay relevant ten years down the line. My criteria for choosing the films may change because topical subjects change, the way I think as an audience change. But, it will never be because I want to serve a different or larger masses, or, for that matter, classes.
(The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.)