Exclusive | Tabu on her golden run with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Drishyam 2: ‘Success is a gamble, can’t be taken for granted’

In a year when hyper-masculinity ruled the box office, one woman took the cake. Twice. Taboo, one of the most celebrated performers in recent times, achieved two successive successes with horror comedy Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and thriller Drishyam 2 which collectively grossed over Rs 350 cr in India making her the only Bollywood star to achieve this figure in 2022 .

Perched on a sofa in her living space – with a happy, excited energy enveloping her – the actor pinches herself when reminded of her golden run. She insists her phenomenal year is a result of team effort and her own desire to never become complacent. “I can’t calculate my career, but I can’t sit on my old laurels either.”

In an exclusive chat with indianexpress. comthe actor talks about her idea of ​​success, her growing following and what it’s like to be Tabu.

Edited snippets:

How do you look at 2022 for you?

Eventful, challenging, tough, because I was making four-five films at a time. I’ve been working really hard for the past year and a half, and all of us on the film team. There was COVID, routine testing, and then people got COVID. It was a scenario we were not used to. But I enjoyed my work – from Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Khufiya, Kuttey, Drishyam 2.

I feel happiest with the success of Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Drishyam 2 because we worked very hard for it. Bhool Bhulaiyaa was physically very challenging for me, I did everything an actor can do: from romance, dance, action, horror, double role to a ghost! The first time I heard a line from the movie, I knew that the movie is from Anjulika-Manjulika. Manjulika even had the ‘hero’ entry in the movie. It is exciting to experience all this in your career.

While Drishyam felt like my own home! At that time, not many films were made in this room, certainly not with established names. I didn’t even expect there to be a sequel. But the Hindi adaptation was so well done. I expected it to be big but this has exceeded my expectations. I think my choices have worked for me.

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Is there anything about success that you learned early in your career?

It’s a gamble, you can’t take it for granted and never be sure of success. Especially in movies, where so many factors come into play. Some people make calculations and predictions that have come true for them, but I am very much afraid of those calculations and of taking success for granted, of thinking it will happen again. That’s when fate surprises you. You should celebrate success and everyone who was part of it, be grateful and gracious. I can’t rest on my old laurels either. Be happy, but move on to the next one.

How do you celebrate your success?

It’s when my friends call me from all over the world, my family and my relatives watch my movies, send me pictures of themselves standing in the theater. I have a friend in Dubai, Chandrika, she runs a beauty salon. So she will take all 50 girls to the theater, cheer me on and send me videos! These are the things that matter most to me.

Recently Kiara Advani said at an event that you were the ‘golden girl’ of Bollywood. That is also the greater feeling – that this year is yours.

My God (long pause). It was very sweet of Kiara. I feel happy, happy that people give me that place, say those things about me. I feel honored that they really celebrate me. I feel that there is genuine love and affection for me. It just fills my heart with so much gratitude.

Where does this sense of security, this zen-like state come from?

Must just be my personality. People who have known me for years know that I am like that. I don’t think I’ve changed at all. I have stuck to my fundamental commitment to do a good job and get better at it. It’s an anchoring factor in me, and it’s impossible for me to let go.

Do you know that many young boys and girls are your ardent admirers; they call you ‘queen’, ‘icon’, ‘goddess’. It’s fascinating that they revisit your previous works.

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It makes me feel relieved. I would like to meet all of them and appreciate their love and give them my love. It makes you feel like your whole journey has meant a lot to people. Thanks to all these filmmakers for making those movies and for giving me a place that allowed me to find my own space, with work that has reached people. Some of my films, like Namesake and Maqbool, may have been ahead of their time, so if people come back now I imagine they have a connection to those films.

Something beautiful also happened this year that surprised people: you were spotted Karan Johar50th birthday party. You don’t normally see yourself at such gatherings.

(laughs) See, for two years I don’t think anyone was partying, so I wasn’t alone. Karan is a very, very old friend; I’ve known him before he became director. I always go to any party he invites me to. I like going to his parties.

What are you looking for at this stage of your career?

It’s not that I want to reach a certain place. That was never my goal. I just want to get to a certain place in the movie I’m making. I can’t make long-term plans. For me, my growth is not just linear, but in all directions, wherever my work takes me. When I’m offered a movie, I look at what the experience will be, what it’s going to mean for me in my career.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is a good example, I had never done anything like it, never worked with Anees Bazmee, a director I really admire. It’s fun for me to explore myself in new spaces. It is also a blessing to work with people you feel comfortable with for over 25 years. Be it with Ajay Devgn, Vishal Bhardwaj and so many others. I feel like this is my playground and I’m going to have fun.

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A character of a ghost wouldn’t excite many actors because what could really be the scope of the performance.

And to look like this!

But it’s like you don’t look down on any character.

I don’t, I never have. For me, every character is an opportunity to discover myself. I enjoy the process of making a movie, getting on sets, figuring out my character, collaborating and bringing it to life. It’s another chapter when a movie comes out and becomes a hit. But creating that final chapter is what you work towards from day one. The process of making movies is what gives me the most joy, it’s what fuels me the most.

What’s it like to be Tabu?

There is never just one part of you active at any given time. You are with many people in the same life, playing many roles. What identifies you most is what you put your energy into. When I’m working, I go with energy that I have to be on time, that I have to do the scene right, that I can’t forget my lines, I’ve got to take action and so be alert so I don’t break my jaw!

When I’m not acting I just chill with my mom, dog, family, friends, in my building where I lived for so many years. That’s my comfort zone. Now I want to start writing again. I love it, but haven’t written in a while.

A movie script? Or a diary?

No, not a script. I write things… About things. I write a lot. I also started singing again! I have been learning Hindustani classical for a long time. I do all those things. I love it, it’s my space. It keeps me happy.

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