EXPERIMENTATION is Akshara Haasan’s favourite word in the dictionary. Be it her hair, her signature pastas or the movies she hopes to work in, the second daughter of actors Kamal Haasan and Sarika enjoys surprising herself. While her sister Shruti had a brief career as a rock singer before switching to acting, Akshara, 23, chose to train in western and classical dance. Her impeccable lineage has resulted in several movie offers over the years, including Kadal from Mani Ratnam. But she chose to pull her weight as assistant director in Rahul Dholaki’s Society (2010), which starred her mother, and in her father’s Tamil spy thriller, Vishwaroopam (2013). But acting was inevitable and Akshara is ready to roll with Shamitabh, director R Balki’s movie, which also stars Amitabh Bachchan and Dhanush. The movie, scheduled for a February 6 release, follows a clash between two egoistic men. ‘‘This film has a lot of soul and depth. Like Balki’s previous films Cheeni Kum or Paa, there is an instant connect to the character,’’ she begins. Often spotted in tees, shorts or jeans, Akshara, who would rather unwind at home with friends than party, talks to us about football, video games and other obsessions.
1. I thought I would work with Balki after my 15th film. I didn’t know my first one would be with him. He kept pushing me, yet gave me room to be spontaneous. When I would ask him if I should go ahead with my interpretation of a line, he would say, ‘If you feel natural and it fits into the scene, then go ahead and do it. If not, remember it and use it somewhere else.’
2. Both Dhanush and Amitabh guided me, and I had the freedom to question their advice. It helped me understand the craft. At home, I had my mom help me with scenes I didn’t get and the next day I would ask Balki, ‘This is what I think, but what do you feel?’
3. My understanding of movies has improved by one per cent. I want to try different things that excite me. I am quite fearless yet there is a hint of innocence.
4. On sets, Dhanush and I would sometimes converse in Tamil. That said, my Tamil is only so-so. I am working on it.
5. We each have a different equation with another person. So I did not discuss Dhanush as an actor with my sister (his co-star in 3).
6. I like working right through the day. I have too much energy and when I get excited, you’ll see me bouncing off the walls!
7. I enjoy spoofing characters I like. I used to imitate Gollum or Sméagol from The Lord of the Rings. I like studying people’s body language, and have imitated my father, too.
8. Among dad’s movies, Anbe Sivam (2003) influenced me the most. It touches the heart.
9. I love candid photography and have spent many hours on Mumbai’s streets, on deserted roads, with my camera, or in deserted monastries in Belgium. There is so much to frame with my camera, in Mumbai.
10. I am a huge Liverpool fan and used to play football in school. Then the injuries began affecting my dance and I had to stop. My favourite players are Lionel Messi and Steven Gerrard.
11. I love travelling and meeting new people. My favourite is New York, and its nooks and corners.
12. I enjoy reading, but not more than I enjoy food. I’m currently reading Mansoor Khan’s The Third Curve, about the economy. I can read anything from Roald Dahl to romance and dark stuff.
13. My dad has five dogs and I love them. They change your life. I can’t have any in Mumbai because we live in an apartment.
14. I don’t want to become somebody I am not. I have my family to fall back on and have warned them that if I am losing myself, they should pull me out. When I wake up in the morning and look at myself, I should be happy with what I see. If not, then I’m obvously going down hill.
15.I love experimenting. My mom has also experimented with her hair. She would go bald, or keep her hair really long or sometimes short. So when you grow up seeing that, you believe you can also do the same. I have gone with bizzare hair colours. It was one of the crazy moods where I was like, ‘I want to colour my hair purple.’ And my mom was like, ‘Ya alright.’ So I went ahead and did it.
16. I love making pasta, like fettuccine alfredo and spaghetti aglio e olio. I also like baking cakes, especially chocolate. Perhaps I will start a patisserie some day.
17. I have nine tattoos. I can’t lie about it, though now I feel they are too many. I should have taken it easy.
18. I am a bit of a technology geek. I can spend the whole day playing video games. Uncharted is my favourite.