Padma Shri awardee Tabu is currently in Pondicherry, shooting for Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Going on record for the first time about being part of Lee’s film, the actor says, “Working with an acclaimed director in an international film is a huge step for me. My career will definitely take a turn post Life of Pi.” She informs that when she worked in Mira Nair’s The Namesake (2006), her first international film, she noticed a marked changed in her life before and after the film. Tabu admits that the film is a dream project for everyone involved and that she is happy to be a part of it. She says, “Working with global minds exposes you to a different world. It stretches the bandwidth of one’s potential that much more. It’s exciting to get out of your comfort zone and work with new people.”
Life of Pi, where Tabu will be playing Pi (Irrfan Khan’s) mother, is based on Yann Martel’s Man Booker winner by the same name. Nearly a third of the film is based in the South Indian Tamil-speaking region and some of the locations include the Petit Seminaire and Calve College, Holy Rosary Church, the botanical gardens and some canals.
Having watched most of Ang Lee films including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Tabu says she’s been a huge fan of his work. “I admire how deftly he handles human emotions,” she says. Does she plan to aggressively market herself in Hollywood now? “Such things can’t be planned,” she says. “Whether it’s an Indian or international project, what matters is how important the role is,” she says.
Though the actor has proved her mettle in acting she is not doing many Hindi movies lately. When asked the reason, the actor says, “As you grow older you become particular about the kind of work you want to do, the people you want to work with and more importantly the people you don’t want to work with.” She adds that thankfully today she is in a position to reject offers that may make her unhappy. She says, “I am not saying I only want to do intellectually stimulating roles. I am open to doing any kind of role if I am convinced about my reasons to do it.”
Embracing the news of being conferred the Padma Shri award, Tabu says that she is “happy to be honoured for her work”. The actor, who made her debut with Vijaypath (1994), has acted in over 50 Hindi movies and a few others in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. “It’s not just an award. It’s a validation of all the decisions I have taken and for my conviction to have come this far on my own without anyone’s help,” she says.