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Shruti and I have taken after two different extremes of our father: Akshara Haasan- Cinema express

Shruti and I have taken after two different extremes of our father: Akshara Haasan

The actor, who plays an important role in Vikram’s Kadaram Kondan that is produced by Kamal Haasan, opens up about her upcoming film, her father's advice, and more 

Published: 15th July 2019

Last seen in the Ajith Kumar-starrer Vivegam, Akshara Haasan will next be seen, after a two-year break, in this week’s release, Kadaram Kondan that stars Vikram. The film is produced by her father, Kamal Haasan, under his Raaj Kamal Films International banner. She talks about her character, her clarity on what she wants to become, and what aspects of her father she has taken after.

Excerpts from a conversation:

We heard that you were apprehensive about doing a film produced by RKFI. 

I always wanted to work with RKFI, but I needed to confirm, even though I already knew, that I was not getting this offer because I am Kamal’s daughter. I was told I would have to go through workshops in order to play this character, which I did along with Abi Hassan (son of Nasser, who’s playing an important role in this film). I can tell you that RKFI will not work with anyone simply on the basis of influence. Talent is crucial. 

How strong is your character, Athira?

She is pregnant and delicate, and yet, very strong. Doing a role you cannot relate to is the beauty of being an actor, right? The job helps you understand people and I think this makes actors a little more considerate than others. I have no idea what it means to be pregnant. So, I spoke to my mom and to a few friends of mine. Some of them have two children already, and I'm like, “Dude, what?!” (laughs). It was actually beautiful to see what they go through while carrying. They cannot sit normally, or lean forward as we do. Their back and leg hurt, they are constantly hungry and cranky, and there’s also all the stress. All the research I did helped me make Athira real. 

You have worked with the likes of Dhanush and Ajith. How has it been to work with Vikram?

He's an actor I respect and hope to emulate. He can make any role his own, and make it unique. This is something I have noticed about my father as well. I was lucky enough to work that with Mr Amitabh Bachchan (in Shamitabh), with my father, and now, with Vikram sir. It is lovely to see their excitement for new characters and their love for the craft. He is fun and playful on the sets too. We pulled a few pranks on the sets. 

Do you have a lot to prove with this film?

Before the shoot, my father said, "It’s great you have got this role, but now, you have to work twice as hard as there is a lot at stake here. Maanam kettu poidakoodathu." I worked hard as I want to prove to myself and him that I am worthy of this opportunity.

He has seen the film but hasn’t spoken to me yet about it. I am quite nervous (smiles). He encourages me as nobody else does, but he is also my biggest critic. I am looking forward to knowing what I could have done better.

How much of Kamal Haasan’s own filmmaking touches have influenced Rajesh M Selva as a director? 

Being an erstwhile assistant to my father, he shares his passion and drive. It is beautiful to see people fall in love with their craft every day. Rajesh likes challenges and I like them too.

You have assisted director Rahul Dholakia earlier. Should we expect to see you turn director sometime?

I am still trying to hone my talent, and perhaps once I am more confident, hopefully… As an actor, apart from Kadaram Kondam, I have a Netflix original and a Zee5 series coming up in Tamil. 

How well do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Very. The last year has been revealing as it has helped me learn about myself. I have more clarity on what I should become. My parents have always encouraged my sister and me to think about who we are and what we want. I know what I can and cannot do. I want to work on turning my weakness into strength. 

While Shruti Haasan has shown she’s comfortable with roles in mass films or dance numbers, your choice of cinema and what you do in them seems quite different.

That's her school of thought and her vision of what she wants to be. I can't do what she is doing as well as she does. Both need different skills. I don't have her skills nor do I have plans on acquiring them. I am keener on action-oriented roles. In a sense, you could say we have taken after two extremes of our father. This was not planned at all. From childhood, I have been on a different track and my parents have always supported me. I know I am not like others, and I am not sure if that’s good or bad, but I have embraced it. I like being gutsy and want to be known for doing different roles.

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