Tamannaah Bhatia didn’t mince words when she decided to speak out against South director Suraaj’s derogatory comments about female actors in cinema. Moreover, she was also supported by her colleague Nayanthara in calling out the sexism on display. In an exclusive no-holds-barred conversation with BT, Tamannaah speaks about dealing with sexism in the film industry and more…
It’s not every day that an actress gets a filmmaker to apologise for his actions, like you took on Suraaj, the director of your film ‘Katthi Sanddai’, who made derogatory remarks about female actors.
I called out on a director who I was working with and whose film was about to release. It wasn’t a happy moment for me, especially when it was somebody I had worked with twice. However, I just hand to stand up not just for myself but everybody who looks up to actresses and women. I felt that I had to stand up and say that women are not going to sit quietly and take shit.
Do you think it’s important for celebs to be vocal about the issue so that it gets highlighted?
The problem is that some men are sexist, but they are not even aware of it. They are ignorant, they think that it’s normal to look at women in a certain way and talk about them in a certain way. And, that’s what scares me.
Incidentally, your role as Avanthika in ‘Bahubali’ came in for a lot of criticism and many went to the extent of calling the portrayal sexist. What’s your take?
There are so many perceptions about a role when a movie comes out. It’s natural for different people to perceive the film differently. When we walk into a movie theatre, we might not think or experience the same thing. Everybody had an opinion and I respect everybody’s opinion. Beyond a point, I can’t keep thinking about how my role will be perceived because I won’t be able to enjoy the process of creating a character. If I constantly worry about landing myself in a controversy, how will I concentrate on my work? You can’t obsess over what people are going to think as the biggest impediment in fulfilling one’s dream is the ‘log kya kahenge’ syndrome. So, that’s the motto of my life. I have stopped thinking about log kya kahenge.
What else is on the anvil, besides the ‘Bahubali’ sequel?
I am doing two female-centric films this year. One is the remake of ‘Queen’, which is very special to me because I loved the Kangana Ranaut-starrer. The other one is the Tamil remake of the Telugu film, ‘Pelli Choopulu’. It is a small-budget film, which is set in an urban milieu. It is relevant to today’s times.