Taapsee Pannu, the versatile Bollywood actress, who is nothing short of a movement within herself, has been showing Indian women how to live fearlessly for the past few years since her maiden debut in Chashme Badoor. With back-to-back strong roles in Baby, Ghazi Attack and Naam Shabana, Taapsee has shown that women have many ways of living independently and thriving rather than falling in line with the sexist ways of the world. She won the audience for a lifetime with her powerful performance in Pink, which proved that she is everything but a B-grade actor (sorry, Kangana).

With so much going around, starting from women being harassed in professional and personal spheres to facing domestic abuse on an everyday basis (the numbers increasing since the lockdown was imposed), it’s high time we learn how to deal with such issues. 

On 1st August, which is Taapsee Pannu’s birthday, we’re curating the many life lessons we’ve learnt from actress’ inspiring movie characters.

Power Puff Pink

Three Delhi girls Minal, Falak and Andrea are on the run as one of them escapes a molestation attempt by a rich and powerful man named Rajveer. Minal attacks Rajveer and breaks a bottle on his head, injuring him grievously. This is just where the drama begins. 

Pannu’s Pink is nothing but a powerful statement on the already existing stereotypical mindset of people in India. You can see the stark difference in the way the men and women are judged in the movie. This courtroom drama directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury spotlights the importance of sex and consent. 

Takeaways From Minal:

The one important thing that Minal, played by (Taapsee Pannu) and Deepak Sehgal (played by Amitabh Bachchan) taught us through their movie was “These boys must realise that NO ka matlab NO hota hai. Use bolne wali ladki koi parichit ho, friend ho, girlfriend ho, koi sex worker ho, ya aapki apni biwi hi kyu na ho. ‘NO’ means no and when someone says NO, you stop!”

1. Engage A Lawyer To Understand Your Legal Rights 

When you are at a crossroads just like these women characters in the film were, engage a lawyer to understand where you stand in terms of your legal rights. Do not get overwhelmed and mentally buried in the chaos. Hire a professional who is an expert in his/her field and can give you the best advice possible. During the trial episode of the movie, some important legal rights of women are talked about:

  • Women can lodge a complaint (Zero FIR) irrespective of the jurisdiction under which the police station is located.
  • Women and children can be bailed out on weekends and the bail’s proceedings can be heard at the judge’s residence on weekends.
  • If any person threatens or uses criminal force to a woman, the person can be charged under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code with imprisonment extending up to 2 years. 

2. Be Bold In The Face Of Danger 

No matter how grave the danger, a woman needs to be bold in the face of it even when you are asked naked questions. You may be required to answer certain disturbing questions over and over again. Focus on the end goal—justice, and soldier on.

3. Your Clothes Don’t Define Your Character & Neither Does Your Language

Coming home late at night with your male friends doesn’t give anyone the right to assassinate your character or intentions. Wearing a revealing top isn’t a statement on your consent or family and upbringing. Don’t let anyone guilt you into shame and intimidate you into keeping your mouth shut.

Manmarziyaan, Manmarziyaan

Rumi and Vicky who are in love with each other are caught by Rumi’s family and pressurised to get married. However, zimedaari ke naam pe hug dene wala ladka Vicky refuses to commit, and in turn, Rumi gets married to Robbie. The romantic saga unfolds under Anurag Kashyap’s brilliant direction.

The actual hero of this movie was clearly Taapsee. To an instinctive, strong-headed hockey player Rumi, Taapsee gives everything to her character starting from the correct form of dialect to the natural ease. 

Takeaways From Rumi:

Rumi’s fight for reality is so real that we often fear watching her character. What is she going to do next? Will she land in trouble because of her stubbornness? Is such a headstrong girl ever right? These voices of judgement are perpetuated by society. Just as we witnessed in the Netflix series, Indian Matchmaking, Ankita’s father actually describes her as ahead of her time, simply because she chooses to live life on her terms in 2020.

1. Choose Your Love Wisely

Rumi didn’t settle for Vicky since he chickened out every time he was asked to commit to the relationship. No matter how many chances Rumi gave him, he always backed off at the last moment which made her rethink her choices. The same applies to your real life as well. The love you have, may not be the love you need. Learn to identify the difference; this is extremely difficult with your first love.

2. Be Unapologetically Sassy, If That’s Who You Are

The stubborn, strong-headed hockey player was a small-town sass in the movie. The character defies set codes of femininity. She was as exuberant and in your face as her lover Vicky (Kaushal’s character), and made no bones about it.

3. Don’t Carry The Burdens Of Compromise, Flexibility & Adjustment 

You shouldn’t compromise and settle for something or someone that is not right for you. You have one life, and you’re allowed to fight for it. Unless we learn to protect and stand up for our happiness and ourselves, we can’t expect others to stand strong with us. 

T Se Thappad

In Anubhab Sinha’s Thappad, Taapsee gave one of the strongest performances of her career. She played Amrita with so much ease. A strikingly nuanced character showcases how the gender roles are so defined. Thappad revolves around a happy go lucky housewife Amrita, and her super-ambitious husband Vikram, who have been happily married for several years. At a party thrown to celebrate Vikram’s promotion that would have them relocate to London, he gets a call from his boss that he’s been replaced. And although he’s disturbed and doesn’t take the news well, part of his reaction leads to him slapping Taapsee’s character in a fit of rage. The rest of the movie revolves around how even one slap is unacceptable.

Takeaways from Amrita:

Amrita does her chores every single day without fail, and she’s chosen to be a housewife and is very happy playing this role. Her days are a labour of love, as a doting daughter in law, a supportive wife, and a great homemaker. Yet, she knows that her choice to give up her career and adopt a domestic way of life is by no means a free pass to disrespect her with violence or abuse of any kind.

1. Respect Yourself

“Thappad se darr nahi lagta sahab, pyaar se lagta hain” is an idea that should not be romanticised. You need to set and enforce verbal and physical boundaries in any relationship, even if it’s the one with your husband.

2. Supportive Family Members Can Make A Difference

When Amrita is slapped, her mother in law tells her to ignore the abuse for the sake of the family’s reputation. By the end of the movie, Taapsee’s character gathers the courage and questions the lack of support from her in-laws. Her parents stand strong and reprimand her brother’s abrasiveness towards his own fiance. Thappad teaches you to lean on family members that can stand strong against wrongdoings and not cower down to those who don’t.

3. Always Follow Your Dreams

Whether you chose to be a housewife or pursue a career, it’s important to have something that’s your own. Taapsee’s character is shown to have a passion for dancing, something she lost sight of as she filled her life only with things that mattered to Vikram.

Masterclass Mulk

Mulk touches the extremely sensitive topic of Islamophobia. Directed once again by Anubhab Sinha, Mulk has Aarti, a lawyer portrayed by Taapsee who is seen fighting against religious bias which still runs so strong in our country.

Takeaways From Aarti:

In one of the interviews, Taapsee said, “In Mulk, we recognise the problem and we are showing that it’s most important to be humane.” 

1. Don’t Fall Prey To Prejudices

Falling into the trap of prejudices can be very easy because the society we live in is constantly badgering us with biased rhetoric. Don’t let unverified sources colour your opinion about the people you live in harmony with just because someone isn’t accepting of their religion. Nothing warrants this kind of prejudice without wrongdoing or proof.

 2. Stand By Your Loved Ones

There’s the family we are born into, and the family we get married into. Try and create a bond that runs deeper than the one that comes by association through your spouse. Taapsee’s character lawyers up as soon as she realises her in-laws are being subjected to religious discrimination.

And on that note, how about we binge-watch all these amazing performances? Got any other statement-making Taapsee Pannu films that come to mind that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments.