“I am not your regular actress”
...says Shruti Haasan who, despite exiting the magnum opus, Sangamithra, remains quite optimistic about some of the projects she’s in talks about
We're at Kamal Haasan's office on Eldams Road, and Shruti Haasan comes in a bit late, apologising with a smile. She comes across as warm and affable. She settles down and begins, "The last few years have been great for me in terms of the films I have been offered and the kind of directors I have been able to work with.”
I ask about her exit from Sundar C's ambitious project, Sangamithra, but she doesn't want to talk about it. "I don't dwell on the past as it makes no sense to. I liked the script, and accepted the project. I even took up lessons in sword fighting. Yet, it was not to be. But it was fun. I’m glad I learnt something new," she says.
The actress has been taking her time on some of the scripts that have come her way. "I look for the overall feeling, and try to connect with the story. My only priority is the film first and then, I try to see what’s in it for me. It’s never the other way round."
She says she’s never discussed her scripts with her dad. “It may surprise you to learn that I’ve never asked him for advice, or tried to use my surname to get things done,” she says. “I am what I am, and I can't change myself just because somebody has issues with it. Quite a few people like me for who I am.”
Shruti’s done quite a bit of work in Bollywood in recent years. Her last film, Behen Hogi Teri, didn’t exactly do well, but she confirms she’s in talks for another Bollywood film. Generally, she expresses happiness at how her career has worked out so far. “I like what I do - be it here, Telugu cinema, or in Bollywood. I don't like to categorise films by language. I like cinema, and I've really started enjoying my craft over these years. I've been doing back-to-back projects, and now, I feel it's time I concentrated on my music too."
The film she’s got lined up is Sabaash Naidu, a film in which she thoroughly enjoyed working with her dad, Kamal Haasan. "It marks the first time that I have done a film across three languages (Hindi, Tamil and Telugu). It has been a learning experience for me. We shot mainly in Los Angeles and bapuji has handled the film so well. He's extremely hardworking, despite his age. I play a fun-loving and rebellious character." And no, it’s nothing like her. “I haven't played any character that is close to who I am. In that sense, I guess I am not your regular actress. For instance, I’ve never endorsed a fairness product, and I’m uncomfortable with the idea probably because I am the darkest person in my family. I don't endorse alcohol either. I am bound by certain principles."
She’s got a bit of time on her hand after a few years of back-to-back work, and this allows her time to reflect. “I don't really have a dream role, and have always tried to make every film as special as possible. Tamil cinema hasn't been successful in portraying a modern-yet-traditional woman. There have only been extremes. Take me, for instance. I go to temples but I wear jeans. I speak my mind, and I have values. You get what I am saying?” While she comes across as being independent, the same cannot be said about the characters she plays. “What's the fun in being me all the time? But yes, I get what you're asking me,” she says.