‘Baahubali’ Helped Me Reach out to Pan-Indian Viewers: Tamannaah

Tamannaah Bhatia, the Baahabali star, is set for two releases on 31 May — Khamoshi and Devi 2. She will soon be seen in the remake of Kanagana Ranaut starrer Queen called That is Mahalakshmi in Telugu.

Alongside Tamannaah, you will also see Prabhu Deva in two of those films. He plays a negative character in Khamoshi whereas in Devi 2, which is a horror comedy, he plays Tamannaah’s husband who’s possessed.

The actor spoke to The Quint about how she picked up Tamil and Telegu and still doesn’t get the accent spot on. Watch the interview to find out more.

Do you want to begin this by telling me about your name? You’re Tamannaah Bhatia, but you can speak so many more languages. What is the story?

Well, I live in Mumbai and I speak Hindi and English because I’ve educated myself in those two languages. Tamil and Telugu come from having worked in the South Indian film industry for all these years. It’s actually fun being able to speak in so many different languages. I also speak a little bit of Sindhi. I don’t really use my Sindhi as much as I should. I do use it for code words. So, when you don’t want people to understand what you say, you just … and I have a lot of Sindhi friends.

So, how did you educate yourself in Telugu and Tamil?

Well, dialogues were a great place to start. Essentially, dialogues have correct grammar. So, I picked up the language while learning my lines. And I would try to understand what it meant. I would learn the meaning of each and every word. So that I can learn how to form sentences. That’s how I got to it and now I feel comfortable.

Was accent ever an issue?

It takes a while, actually. I’m still working on the accent. Also, I mean, the slang, that’s essentially hard. For a new language, you might probably be speaking the language but what might be hard is getting the slang right.

So, Khamoshi. Basically, I have seen the trailer and it looks very similar to Hush.

Well, there are similarities. It has been, for me, a brand new experience, because playing deaf and mute was challenging.

This is the first time you’ll be experimenting with the genre?

Yes, I haven’t done a thriller like this before.

Were there little tricks that you picked up, like how to give that perfect reaction to when someone is trying to shock you?

Well, I had a trainer on set who would explain how it is to react to because it’s different. Because if someone who cannot hear and speak will definitely react in a different timing than a person who can. And to battle that. Also, it was really cold. It was minus two degrees. We shot the film in Skipton. It’s about a few hours away from London. What I like is my look in the film. Because I’m not wearing any makeup. It’s very organic. My hair’s literally wet throughout the film. So, I was quite happy to do a film like this which let me show myself in the rawest fashion possible.

Speaking of Prabhu sir, he seems like the last person who can play a negative character.

I think he enjoyed it. He told me he enjoys playing the bad guy. There is something so versatile about him. He can play any character. He’s someone who’s such a gifted actor, it’s unreal. He does things with such ease. Maybe because he’s a director and he has that edge.

You’ll soon be seen in That is Mahalakshmi. It’s a remake of Queen. What did you pick up from Kangana? Did you pick up anything, observe her character in the movie?

For me, essentially what was important was to not lose the innocence of the film and the essence of what the film was about. And that’s something we tried to retain in the remake as well. But what we have experimented with is trying to keep it as Telugu as possible. The nativity was what worked even in the Hindi version. Primarily, that she’s from Rajouri and you know that entire North Indian feeling worked really well. I think that the language was something that was interesting to hear. So, I think that’s what we have tried to do with the Telugu version.

Have you ever wanted to be a part of mainstream Bollywood?

Of course, I mean essentially everyone wants to do Hindi films because that becomes pan India and more people get to see it. But to my good fortune, I did a film called Baahubali, which kind of helped me reach out to a pan Indian audience. I don’t think I have ever been someone who is very arty. Of course, I love to do a film where I have a realistic character. And I have done lots of them in the South actually. But I think it’s always important that it comes in an entertaining format. I don’t like films that are drab or slow. And I can’t, as an audience myself, watch it.

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