VERSATILE STAR TAMANNAAH BHATIA ON HER NEW BOOK AND WHY 2021 HAS BEEN A TRANSFORMATIVE YEAR
A REMARKABLE career has seen Tamannaah Bhatia balance successful acting performances in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi cinema with interesting projects in other areas.
During a transformative 2021, the versatile star hosted MasterChef India – Telugu and made her web serials debut with gripping dramas 11th Hour and November Story.
She also recently teamed up with celebrity lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho for the recently released Back To The Roots, a wellness book rooted in ancient Indian practices and cultural knowledge.
On the film front, Tamannaah has scored two successes this year with sports action drama Seetimaarr and Maestro, the Telugu-language remake of Bollywood superhit Andhadhun. With a whole host of movies on the way and her venturing into new spaces, it looks like the beginning of perhaps the most exiting phase of her career.
Eastern Eye caught up with the in-demand Tamannaah to discuss her book, film journey, versatility and inspirations.
How did the idea of writing your new book Back To The Roots come about? It was primarily my own journey. Whatever you read in the book is something that I have been following for the last two years. Of course, when Luke got me into this lifestyle, I didn’t know it would bring a transformation in my life. I became a vegetarian and didn’t know that a simple food change could aid me in the long run. I did not want to take any shortcuts because I believe those things cannot be sustained.
But what prompted you to write a book about it? So, I thought whatever benefits I have had with my interaction with Luke should be documented. It came to fruition during the lockdown.
Can you walk us through your process of writing the book? Luke and I were on many calls for the book. There is a flood of information online. With this book, we didn’t just want to tell you what to do, but also guide you on how to do it. And it was our primary intent because a small hack can help someone immensely. For instance, the exercise of oil pulling can be difficult for someone who has a hectic morning schedule. So, I do mine during my bath to save time. The idea is to make it a part of your life and not let it feel like a big change. All the hacks in the book are accessible. They are all there in your Indian kitchen. An Ayurvedic lifestyle is more simple than you imagine.
Considering today’s world, what one health secret would you like to share from your book with our readers? One needs to keep a detoxified and alkalised environment in the body. It is something that the book is constantly trying to communicate. You can achieve that using different spices and ingredients that are available in your kitchen. I believe it is the key to building your immune system. Right now, immunity has become the centre of everything, and the book aims at helping you get that immune power.
What are the kind of books that you enjoy reading? I love reading spiritual books or collections of poetry, or an analysis of a poem. I am not much of a fiction person. I don’t really read fiction and am not a voracious reader, so the number of books I have read are far and few between. But when I do read, I actually sit through the whole book.
Has lockdown given you a chance to look back on your amazing career? By the time the pandemic hit us, I had gone into this frame of mind where I wanted to experiment wholeheartedly. That is why I got a book published, was in two web shows that were launched online and had two films being released. I also shot for another movie and a web show in the meantime. I think it just all came together in one go. So, there wasn’t the time to look back or reflect.
Which of your roles has been closest to your heart? Baahubali will always be one of the most memorable characters that I have ever played. I am very excited about Yaar Dost, which I am working on right now. It portrays me in the most authentic way that I have ever been presented. So, I am really looking forward to its release as well.
Which character would you say challenged you the most? Sometimes, the films that seemed obviously simple were the most challenging to crack. One needs a lot more conviction to break through in commercial cinema. I am lucky that some of the big commercial films I worked in did really well at the box office, and it sprouted from sheer conviction.
You have acted in a wide array of languages and genres, but which space are you happiest in? Since I started working at a very young age, I familiarised myself with Tamil and Telugu in the initial part of my career itself. Hindi is a language I have spoken since my childhood. So, for me, language is no longer a barrier, and it has never been a reason for choosing a film. I believe cinema has always been something that is unifying and has a global appeal. And now, more than ever, the statement holds true because you could be sitting in any country and watching Indian cinema.
Yes, but does your approach to your role change between languages? Yeah. There is a cultural difference, and one needs to keep that in mind while performing a character. I transform from one place to another by going with the vision of my director. I don’t get worried about the language.
You have had a really successful year with films and web serials. You must be really happy? Honestly, I did not expect this. We did not know how to look at theatrical releases any more. There was a lot of stress about Maestro because it is a remake of Andhadhun. I am so full of gratitude at the moment. In fact, I did not know what to expect out of November Story. But, yes, it has been a great year, and I am just basking in the success.
How has it been to be working during a lockdown? It was tough. Especially, Plan A Plan B, which is a Netflix original film with Riteish Deshmukh and Shashanka Ghosh. Within 10 days of starting shooting the film we went into lockdown, and Mumbai was getting worse by the day. The protocols on the sets were intense. It was stressful to work in that kind of environment. But everyone was so fed up with being home and wanted to get to work. It was also intense as I contracted Covid while I was shooting in Hyderabad.
You have played a wide array of roles, but is there a dream role you would love to do? I am open to doing new stories where it can surprise me. And I would love to do a female-action movie and a dance film in the future.
What is the best advice you ever got? The best advice I received was from my father, who once quoted Swami Vivekananda and said ‘it is a sin to be weak – mentally, emotionally, physically and financially’. It is something that has stuck with me, and I am always mindful of that. It is a piece of life advice, so it is applicable in every sphere of living.
If you could master something new what would it be? I would love to master painting or play a musical instrument. I don’t think there is a way to master it, but it is a way of expression. I would love to paint or play a musical instrument because I think it is meditative, and that is something I have always wanted to do. I hope to be able to do it in the near future.
What inspires you as an actress? I like facing the cameras every morning. It is as simple as that. When I am not working for more than two days, I get fidgety. My mom often says ‘you are better off at a shoot, otherwise you are a handful at home.’ Honestly, the innate nature of wanting to be in front of a camera is what inspires me. People often say it is success, but that is not in your control.