Taapsee Pannu shares her wedding goals, the essentials of a healthy relationship, and more

The actor is candid, charming, and uncomplicated.

Spoiler alert: Taapsee Pannu may not be getting married any time soon, nor does she plan to follow any conventions. In a special conversation, the actor shares her views on love, as well as the secret to her successful, long-term relationship with Danish sportsman Mathias Boe.

"My hair must stay curly,” firmly announces Taapsee Pannu. We’re discussing the actor-entrepreneur’s hypothetical wedding, and it appears to be a far cry from the usual grandeur that is synonymous with Bollywood weddings. The topic of Pannu’s natural curls that have charmed all and sundry (including her 19.2 million fans on Instagram) kicks off our Zoom call on a sultry Friday evening. It is not her locks and looks alone: the fresh-faced actor breaks the ice effortlessly, and what was supposed to be a short, 20-minute call turns into a breezy, hour-long conversation about life, beyond the big day.

“It [my hairdo] won’t look like I needed a village to get ready,” she says, also listing her distaste for heavy make-up and its impact on skin maintenance. Pannu, who also co-owns an event management company called The Wedding Factory, says her “heart feels bad when I see brides with layers and layers of thick make-up on. How do you enjoy looking at yourself when you’re a different person in those pictures?” wonders the two-time Filmfare Awards winner. “These memories are not just for that moment, they are forever. You don’t want to look at those pictures and not recognise yourself as yourself.”

In amused horror, to drive her point home, Pannu recounts an article that alleged a marriage being broken because the girl in question was unrecognisable once she removed her bridal make-up. “Make-up is supposed to enhance your skin, not make you a different person,” she says, recalling how she got her cousin’s heavily made-up visage washed off minutes before her wedding rituals. “I understand this is a special day in a woman’s life, and she would want to put her best foot forward... Don’t do it for some kind of validation that will not stand the test of time in future years.”

Pannu’s own wedding goals are bereft of gaudy hues and 3:00 a.m. rites: she wants a single-day wedding affair in tasteful nude and subtle colours (the Pink actor is not a nocturnal person) where she gets to savour every moment. Her must-haves? An inordinate amount of dancing and plenty of food served on time. “It needs to be basic and drama-free because there is enough drama in my professional life, and I don’t want it to trickle down into my personal life,” she says, admitting she prefers Sikh weddings for their shorter rites.

The Thappad actor is even ready to forgo the title of a Sabyasachi bride. “I really don’t want to get into the rat-race of wearing outfits only by the biggest designers. I mean, their work is incredible and I love what they create; I wear them during my work events. But when it comes to something as personal as my wedding, my best friend from college—Mani Bhatia—will be my go-to option. In fact, I think that will be the perfect wedding gift from her to me...I’m not going to pay for that,” she laughs. “But it will be something so personalised that it’ll live forever in memories.”

Our conversation moves from the plethora of wedding locations that Pannu’s sister [Shagun, a wedding stylist] has already selected for the actor’s wedding (which swings from a destination wedding in Rajasthan to a beach wedding, and even a palace wedding) to the inevitable ‘when’. “Some bizarre gossip I heard recently was that since I was working on nearly five films a year, I was going to get married very soon. Their reasoning was that I would run out of movies after marriage,” she says, adding that with the ubiquitous biological clock, there seems to be a marriage clock constantly ticking for every woman. “The typical middle-class family, back in Delhi, believes that ‘heroine hai to late hi shaadi karegi’ [‘She is bound to get married late since she’s an actor’]. So while the marriage question skips me, it goes to my sister who is not an actor,” Pannu shares. Her biggest grouse is about how people want to get others married off in haste. “They just want to get it over-and-done with, and choose a fairly suitable option from the options available, not realising that marriage is not a temporary deal!”

Pannu earnestly adds that when things go wrong in a relationship, the people who applied the most pressure are the ones who turn a blind eye. She cites her parents’ marriage as an example of what she will never settle for: an arranged marriage. “The other thing is that my mom has always been a housewife. So her reasons for always adjusting and accommodating were not entirely out of love and affection; sometimes it was because what else could she do?”, Pannu says. “And after a certain age, you get so used to that lifestyle, that you normalise not thinking about yourself first. That is definitely not what I want,” she says. “I believe that when I am happy, I make the other person happy. We need to be individually happy for us to be happy together.”

The Rashmi Rocket actor firmly declares that she believes in investing time and effort into her relationships, especially if there’s a chance that they will last. “You should genuinely put your heart and mind to it, and then if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,” she says. Her approach appears to have worked with her beau Mathias Boe, a Danish badminton coach who won a silver medal at the Olympics in 2012. The duo is close to completing a decade together, despite belonging to such different worlds, professionally and culturally...or rather, because of it. Pannu was always clear that she would not pick her partner from her industry. “Thankfully, very early on in my career, I ended up meeting the person with whom I share deep comfort... Our perspectives are so diverse and different that our conversations are still intriguing and interesting. The cultural exchange is still so beautiful, even after so many years.” Curiously enough, Boe—owing to his Danish upbringing—doesn’t always understand her film characters or the cultural bias around them, the actor proclaims... She also adds that she has (in humour) told him that he’d have to take her surname.

What’s the secret to that much-coveted chemistry in a relationship? In addition to not playing games that she will lose at with her partner, respect is paramount, along with not expecting too much from the other person. Pannu doesn’t believe in the concept of ‘do jism, ek jaan’ [two bodies, one soul]. Instead, she declares, “We’re two individual jaans [souls] and we have our own lives beyond our relationship. What I am deeply attracted to, and that hasn’t changed over the years, is how the other person has built their life and image all by themself, for themself... Basically, respect comes before love. I feel that love can go through phases, but if the respect is not there, the love can’t last for long.”

Pannu shares other pearls of wisdom she has picked up along the way, which she plans to continue applying to her life: “You can’t be impulsive. I used to be so, but I’ve calmed down a lot now. It’s nice to not jump to conclusions with relationships. I’d rather take a step back and analyse it in the larger scheme of things,” she concludes.