India’s Tabu on ‘Drishyam 2,’ Shooting Five Films Back-to-Back and Unexpected Success in China (EXCLUSIVE)

Indian actor Tabu is on a roll. She starred in “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2,” one of the few Bollywood hits of 2022 in a box office landscape littered with flops and has performed in four more films after that.

The first of those, “Drishyam 2,” the sequel to 2015 hit “Drishyam,” is releasing worldwide this week. The Hindi-language films are remakes of the Malayalam-language “Drishyam” films (2013 and 2021). In the first film, Tabu played a senior police officer whose son disappears under mysterious circumstances after being involved in an unsavory incident.

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In “Drishyam 2,” Tabu’s character is no longer in the force, but is pursuing an agenda against the film’s protagonist, played by Ajay Devgn. Given that the film is a suspense thriller, Tabu is understandably wary of revealing spoilers.

“We are exactly seven years from the first part, and all that happened in the past seven years in the world,” Tabu told Variety. “You can see, my character is not an active police officer anymore. She has taken voluntary retirement and moved overseas. But of course she has a presence in the story when she comes back. You see Akshaye Khanna as the top cop who’s taking charge of things in the second part.”

Tabu has also completed work on another remake – “Bholaa,” adapted from hit 2019 Tamil-language thriller “Kaithi,” directed by and starring Devgn. The actor, who was worked with Tabu in several films since 1994, paid her the ultimate compliment by recasting the cop role played by male actor Narain in the original as female.

“I’m really chuffed about it and happy because not just because of the gender change, but because it’s a very interesting dynamic between a cop and a convict,” said Tabu. “It’s a nice journey that you take with these two people who are living in completely contrasting worlds. But they come together in this truck and make this journey with each other. And because it’s Ajay there is a sense of equality and there is believability.”

Amongst the projects the busy actor completed are two more with Vishal Bhardwaj, who directed her in “Macbeth” adaptation “Maqbool” (2003) and “Hamlet” adaptation “Haider” (2014). She stars in Netflix spy thriller film “Khufiya.”

“The world is of spies and espionage – it’s thrilling, but it’s also about people and the human stories of them as people,” says Tabu. “It’s very special to me, of course, because it’s Vishal. For me, it’s just the creative experience of working on a character like this and working in a space like this, in a world like this that’s interesting. I am interested in seeing what people are expecting or how they would receive this.”

Bhardwaj co-produces, co-writes and scores thriller “Kuttey,” where his son Aasmaan makes his directorial debut after several shorts. The film’s theme is under wraps and all Tabu can reveal is that it is a “character based film with a strong plot” and a clear directorial vision.

Tabu, whose international credits include Mira Nair’s “The Namesake” (2006) and “A Suitable Boy” (2020) and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” (2012), tasted success in China with thriller “Andhadhun” (2018), which released in the Middle Kingdom in 2019. Tabu describes the success of the film in China, where it collected nearly $50 million, as “unintentional magic.”

“There was no way that we were even remotely thinking that it will be such a big hit, because we were really building it along and co-creating with each other and just really enjoying the whole process. And I was exploring so much of myself, I was learning so much from [director] Sriram Raghavan,” said Tabu. “And I really wanted to explore that whole synergy and it was really a huge progress in my own growth.”

Next up for Tabu is “The Crew,” alongside Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon, which commences principal photography in Feb. 2023.

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