Pink actress Taapsee Pannu on why she believes in celebrating Women's Day with aplomb
Deebashree Mohanty (TIMES LIFE; March 5, 2017)

A lot of people find it a cliche to celebrate Women's Day...
Last time, I had written a longish blog for an online portal celebrating women and their success. A lot of women commented, “Every day should be women's day“. I had this one thing to say to them ­ if this day is supposed to mark a change, let's consider it. There is a lot that still needs to change in the way society looks at a woman, still a lot of issues that need to be sorted. There is no problem in dedicating a day to mark the beginning of this change. Instead of opposing or demeaning it, let's be a part of it.

Any new pledge this Women's Day?
Don't wait for the police or the government to come and save you. I know we show it in films all the time, but that is not how it happens in reality. You have to be your own hero, take your own safety in your own hands.

Is it a good time to be a woman?
Extremely. This is the perfect time to be a woman because you have got the world finally listening and paying heed to what you are saying. You should leverage this advantage and stop cribbing about circumstances. Get going and do something.

Have you always been vocal about your opinions?
I have been raising my voice in my own possible way since years. Especially, since I have acquired the status of being a celebrity, someone who people watch out for or follow in some ways.

'No means no'. How important is this campaign?
This campaign, along with other causes attached to being a woman, is very important. I don't take it just as a phrase, it is something that needs to be practised.

Is being mentally strong enough or does one have to be physically fit too?
It's not just about the mental strength of deciding that 'no means no' or voicing your opinion or standing for your rights. It is also about physical safety. And when it comes to that, we are good enough to take care of ourselves. We only need to realise this potential and put it to optimal use.

Are you a feminist?
Yes. But my definition may not be in conformation with a lot of people. I am a proud feminist but I am not going to bash men, blaming them for all the woes women face. I believe half the reason why women find themselves in a condition that they do today is because they allow others to take a decision on their behalf. I don't blame men for that. I also don't demand any kind of a reservation in terms of pay or college admissions ­ all this is not feminism according to me. It is about getting equal opportunities and making the most of it.

A lot of women cringe at the term 'feminism' these days...
There was a time when feminism as a concept was a rage and fad. Declaring oneself as a feminist was considered fashionable, it drew the right attention. Nowadays, everyone has over-exploited the term and it has suddenly become cool to say, 'we aren't feminists'. The problem is that no one bothers to understand what the word actually means. Being a feminist doesn't mean you are an extremist. Nor am I. Your definition of a feminist may not be the same as mine and that's okay.

How difficult is it to hold your ground in a male-dominated industry?
I have been asked to do certain things, like act like this or say a dialogue like that because the actor wants me to do it that way. I was once told to slash my remuneration because an actor's market value had come down. Ironically, he wasn't asked to take the pay cut but my cheque bounced. I was thrown out midway from another film because the producer said his previous film bombed and he couldn't change the hero or cut his pay!

Has this general attitude in the industry changed post Pink?
I was tagged as the “unlucky charm“ in Telugu cinema because three films that I starred in failed miserably. I was a bad omen. But suddenly, those same people say they are proud of my achievements.

Do you think an actress can only bag a great role in Bollywood if she ends up producing those films, like it happens in the West?
I don't think that is the case here. There are a handful of producers willing to invest in female stars. I have been receiving offers for women-centric films every week. Sometimes, with known names backing it, sometimes with fresh faces; but the frequency of female centric offers has increased.

Any female protagonist that had a huge impact on you?
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. I would love to try something psychologically trippy.

Do you believe that sex is power?
Sex is a sense of power and it's also in the hands of a woman. Because it is not just the man who derives pleasure out of it. I find it weird when men talk about sex with pride and women do as if they have suffered it all. Can't a woman enjoy it as much or more than her partner? Just because we don't crack sexual jokes doesn't mean we don't think about sex and foreplay too.

A sexist comment that gets to you.
“Oh, woman driver!“ I keep hearing this and feel like taking a knife and stabbing the person who says it. Look at the stats before you speak. Very seldom is a woman behind a terrible accident.