What’s Tabu upto?
We haven’t seen Tabu around for two years. Piali Banerjee drops by to find out what she has been up to As always, a meeting with Tabu begins with a cat-andmouse game, with Tabu enacting the more diffident creature. (Let’s meet next week, next Saturday, next Monday,
next Thursday, may I send answers by email, may I send very well-written answers by email?) Meanwhile, you play the cat, zeroing in persistently… until she cannot escape.
Poor Tabu. “Poor me, and we don’t even have a reason to sit down and talk,” she says, when you finally pin her down. It’s true. We haven’t seen Tabu around since Cheeni Kum, and that was more than two years ago.
What have you been doing for two years?
I’ve done two Telugu films.
I’ve come from the Telugu film industry. I made my debut there. So I keep going back. The Telugu industry has become fun now. They’ve loosened up, they actually party! Earlier they used to be deadly earnest and work-driven.
Do you earn as much there as in Bollywood?
I earn more there!
You’re the biggest star of the Telugu film industry?
(Laughs, till she drops) Are you crazy? I don’t do enough films to be a regular star there.
You don’t do enough films there, you don’t do enough films in Bollywood. What do you do?
Okay, from now on I’ll act in every film (mimics a robot). As I grow old I become more finicky. Sometimes I read scripts, and don’t know what to make of them. If the script is good, I’m not sure I want to work with those people. Just a good role isn’t enough for me to say ‘yes’ to a film any more.
Maybe some filmmakers don’t approach you because they feel you’re inaccessible, and you’ll say ‘no’.
Am I inaccessible to you?
No. But I’m not a filmmaker.
You’re worse. You’re from the press. (Laughs at her own witticism, then realises it wasn’t too polite). Hey, you know what I mean. If anyone wants to contact me, they can.
Which films have you said ‘yes’ to?
I’ve shot for two Hindi films. One is a comedy called To Baat Pakki, coming in July, where I’ve a comic role. I’ve wanted to play a comic role for some time. The other is UTV’s Season’s Greetings, which has five stories of personal journeys, culminating in my story.
For all your choosiness, both these films don’t sound extraordinary.
Are you trying to grill me?
I’m trying to understand you.
(Laughs) Is that what they call it nowadays? I can only choose from what is offered to me, no?
Less work means less money. Doesn’t the money matter?
Of course. I want diamonds, designer bags, I want to travel. But I have it all worked out in my head. There’s so much money that I need in a year. Once I have that, I’m okay. I don’t have any need beyond that. Anyway, it’s all a bonus.
From where I come, to have a lifestyle like mine is a bonus. So I’m content.
Contentment can take the edge off talent. That, and the lack of ambition.
For me, the word ‘ambition’ is too strong. It gives me stress just to hear it. I’m content about money and position, but not on the sets. On the sets I’m worried whether I’m using my imagination enough – if the script writing is good, that is.
If the writing is bad?
Then it’s ‘okay, action, cut’. And back home.
Is that terrible?
I want to learn to enjoy that too. Everything in life cannot be sublime.
How do you divide your time between Hyderabad, where you’ve built your house, and Mumbai?
I cannot stay in any place other than Mumbai. Just because I’m not seen in the media, people assume I’ve moved to Hyderabad. That’s not true, in fact I’ve rented out my house in Hyderabad. I only visit Hyderabad. I have friends and family there, so there are occasions to visit.
How different is your life there?
My friends, family, gym, night club and everything else is within a 7 km radius there. Everything is a five minute drive. Compare that with Mumbai!
What do you want from life now?
I should get married in a year or so. Professionally, umm… (thinks, and thinks more). Now you’ll say I’m not ambitious, but I’ve done a lot to get where I am.
In the good old days?
Yes, those days when photographers would make us show our cleavage, lean over and pout (drapes herself on the sofa to act it out, dissolving into laughter). We would use our hair to cover up, and they would make us push the hair back. Sometimes we had to stand with both arms above our heads and pout (acts it out). Gawd!
There have been rumours of affairs galore.
At this stage of my career, I won’t clarify rumours like a newcomer. I won’t say, “We’re just good friends.” (Looks coy and bats her eyelashes, for effect).
Suddenly she brightens up as she remembers her latest magazine cover. “Nowadays pictures are much cooler,” she says. “Have you seen the cover?” You admit that you haven’t – and she’s shocked. “You’re out of tune with the times,” she splutters. “And you’ve come to interview me about being like that!” She gets the magazine, it’s a nice picture.
She sees you to the door. And delivers her parting words: “Now you’ll go back and use the worst picture of mine you can find, with your interview, won’t you? Why do you guys always do this to me? It provides sadistic pleasure, right?”