A synonym for boldness and righteousness | Sunday Observer
Taapsee Pannu:

A synonym for boldness and righteousness

28 November, 2021

Taapsee Pannu (born 1 August 1987) is an Indian actress who works primarily in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil-language films. She is the recipient of two Filmfare Awards.

After doing modelling for a few years, Pannu made her acting debut with the 2010 Telugu film ‘Jhummandi Naadam’ and later acted in the 2011 Tamil film, ‘Aadukalam’. She made her Hindi film debut with David Dhawan’s comedy ‘Chashme Baddoor’ (2013). After appearing in several South Indian films, Pannu got noticed for her performances in the spy thriller ‘Baby’ (2015) and the courtroom drama ‘Pink’ (2016), both of which were critical and commercial successes.

It was followed by the war drama ‘The Ghazi Attack’ (2017), the action thriller ‘Naam Shabana’ (2017), the social drama Mulk (2018), the romantic drama ‘Manmarziyaan’ (2018), the mystery thriller ‘Badla’ (2019) and the space drama ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019). For portraying the septuagenarian sharpshooter Prakashi Tomar in the biopic ‘Saand Ki Aankh’ (2019), she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress (Critics). In 2020, Pannu received widespread praise for her role in Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Thappad’, and the performance gave her her first Filmfare Award for Best Actress.

Apart from acting, Pannu runs an event management company called The Wedding Factory along with her sister Shagun and a friend. She is also the owner of the badminton franchise Pune 7 Aces, which plays in the Premier Badminton League. She is also vocal about several social and political issues.


After completing her graduation, Pannu worked as a software engineer. She became a full-time model after she auditioned and was selected for Channel V’s 2008 talent show ‘Get Gorgeous’, which eventually led her to acting. Pannu has been appearing in numerous print and television commercials and won several titles during her modelling days, including “Pantaloons Femina Miss Fresh Face” and “Safi Femina Miss Beautiful Skin” at the 2008 Femina Miss India contest.

As a model, she endorsed brands such as Reliance Trends, Red FM 93.5, UniStyle Image, Coca-Cola, Motorola, Pantaloon, PVR Cinemas, Standard Chartered Bank, Dabur, Airtel, Tata Docomo, World Gold Council, Havells and Vardhman. She has also been featured on the cover of magazines ‘Just For Women’ and ‘MaaStars’. After a few years, she lost interest in modelling as she thought that she could never gain proper recognition through modelling, but only through films, and finally decided to act.

Her debut and recognition

Pannu made her cinematic debut in 2010 with K. Raghavendra Rao’s romantic musical ‘Jhummandi Naadam’. She played the role of the daughter of a USA–based millionaire who comes to India to research traditional Telugu music. Pannu got three more offers in Telugu prior to the film’s release. She was next seen in her second Tamil film ‘Vandhaan Vendraan’, that fetched mixed reviews and did not fare well at the box office.

In 2013, Pannu made her Hindi film debut with David Dhawan’s ‘Chashme Baddoor’, co-starring Siddharth, Rishi Kapoor, Divyendu Sharma and Ali Zafar. A remake of the eponymous 1981 film, it met with unanimous negative reviews but became a box-office success. Later, she was seen in the big budget action thriller ‘Arrambam’ co-starring Ajith Kumar and Arya. She was awarded Most Enthusiastic Performer–Female Award at the 2014 Edison Awards for her performance in the film.

‘Pink’ and success in Bollywood

While filming for ‘Running Shaadi’, Pannu was approached by Shoojit Sircar for the courtroom drama ‘Pink’. She was “curious and excited” about the subject as it had not “been dealt with head-on yet in mainstream cinema.” The film, which also starred Amitabh Bachchan, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang, followed three girls who fight a case against a politician’s nephew for molestation. The film and Pannu’s performance received high critical acclaim. Rajeev Masand noted that Pannu, along with other two ladies, “deliver natural performances as strong but emotionally vulnerable women, without a hint of affectation.” With worldwide revenue of ₹1.08 billion (US$14 million), ‘Pink’ emerged as a commercial success. Pannu later said that the film proved to be a turning point in her career.

Further success

Pannu had a string of releases in 2019 with the first one being Sujoy Ghosh’s mystery thriller ‘Badla’, an official remake of the 2016 Spanish film The ‘Invisible Guest’. It also marked her second collaboration with Amitabh Bachchan. She was initially offered a supporting role and the film had a male lead. Pannu convinced the producer to have the lead role played by a female which he agreed on and offered her the role. ‘Badla’ met with highly positive reviews, with Pannu’s performance as Naina Sethi, a shrewd businesswoman receiving high critical acclaim. In her review of the film, film critic Namrata Joshi mentioned that Pannu is “in fine form” the film met with strong box-office results. Her final film of the year 2019 was Tushar Hiranandani’s biographical film ‘Saand Ki Aankh’, co-starring Bhumi Pednekar. Pannu portrayed the role of Prakashi Tomar who is one of the world’s oldest sharpshooters for which she underwent three months of training in pistol shooting. Her role was well received with Anna M. M. Vetticad writing that both Pannu and Pednekar succeed in “delivering equally finely tuned, sensitive performances.” Pannu and Pednekar received the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress.

Pannu’s sole release of 2020 was Anubhav Sinha’s social drama ‘Thappad’, where she played the role of Amrita, a home-maker who files for divorce after her husband slaps her. She said that the character’s “righteousness, her maturity to handle every situation” made her suffocate. The film and Pannu’s performance met with high critical acclaim. Shubhra Gupta of ‘The Indian Express’ noted that she “drives the film, but the effort she puts into her performance shows.”


Pannu has featured in ‘Forbes India’s’ list of Celebrity 100 in 2018 at 67th position with an estimate income of Indian rupees 15.48 crore (US$2.1 million). She was featured for a second time in 2019 ranking 68th. In 2017, she was featured in the magazine’s 30 Under 30 list. Pannu runs an event management company called The Wedding Factory which she manages along with her sister Shagun and friend Farah Parvaresh. In 2018, she bought the badminton franchise Pune 7 Aces which plays in the Premier Badminton League.

In 2019, Pannu raised awareness about children’s health, and gender parity on Twitter with hashtag #WhyTheGap. Pannu has also served as the brand ambassador for Uber, Garnier, Nivea, Kurkure and Women’s Horlicks.

She was ranked in ‘The Times’ Most Desirable Women at No. 36 in 2019 and at No. 23 in 2020.