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    Shruti Haasan lets her work, not her surname do the talking and reveals her best laid plans to tackle Bollywood. By Neelima Menon

     

    Thank God for twitter. If not for this smartly packaged social networking demon, our actors would not have come out of their ivory towers. From Amitabh Bachchan to Ranveer Singh, they have shrugged off their elusive status and are updating us on everything about their life, from breakfast menu to a disjointed muscle. Shruti Haasan is no different. Her tweets are like an open book. They bring out the navarasas in her. They have a childlike enthusiasm, almost like she is giving us a glimpse in to her secret diary. Did you know, for instance, that she is a total foodie who has a weakness for rich cakes, dumplings and water chestnuts? She lets you on about constantly playing mystery games on iPhone, her passion for soccer, music, bonding with her mom and sister over a plate of sambhar sadam and her love for Mumbai, all in just over 40 characters!
    Back in Bollywood, Shruti Haasan is having her D Day via the unconventional route. Her role of a commercial sex worker from Karachi with a scarred face, had an appealing vulnerabilty that was very touching. It also got undue media attention for the heavy duty intimate scenes with Arjun Rampal. “My role in D day needed a subtle intensity. Nikhil called me after seeing 3. Though it was tough in the beginning, as it had many emotional layers, I loved her vulnerability,” says the actor. She takes offence to my observation that D Day was her comeback movie in Bollywood. “I had commitments down South. I don’t think I went anywhere to make a comeback in Bollywood.”
    Having said that, her other release, Prabhu Deva’s Ramaiyya Vastavaiyya that released in the same week, tanked at the box office. But says an unfazed Haasan, “I don’t work for hits. I am not bothered about box office returns. I love acting and my approach towards every film is the same.”
    The transformation
    Haasan has travelled a long way from her baby doll image in her debut Bollywood disaster, Luck, (2008) with critics slamming her “deadpan expressions.” Two years later, the situation remained unchanged with her bimbo act in Madhur Bandarkar’s Dil To Bacha Hai Ji (2011). Meanwhile in Tamil, her biggie 7am aruvu with Suriya didn’t do much to her career. But things started looking up in 2012 – Aishwarya Dhanush’s debut film 3 was her reply to her detractors! It was a coming-of-age film for the actress. Though a few harsh ones still thought her emotional scenes were over-the-top, the scenes between her and Dhanush were a scream. Love was conveyed effectively through glances and silence. “I am completely a director’s actor. I can never do method acting. It has to be spontaneous and that worked well in9
    . I enjoyed doing that role,” maintains the 27-year-old.
    Nothing irks Shruti Haasan than the assumption that she had it easy thanks to her lineage. Sure, she might not have had the usual struggles associated with a newcomer, but easy it never was. “To set the record straight, it has been a while since dad (Kamal Haasan) has done a film in Bollywood, so I had to do it all by myself. I have never looked at myself as a star kid. I am very happy in my space. Maybe in the South, it helped a bit but at the end of the day, you have no control over hits or misses and that is what counts. Being a star daughter can’t automatically make your film a hit!” fumes the young actress. Hyderabad diaries
    Though she’s slowly finding her feet in Bollywood, Haasan’s already hit a purple patch in Tollywood. It started with Gabbar Singh last year, a remake of Salman Khan’s Dabanng (2010), where she reprised the role of Sonakshi Sinha. It was followed by a superhit Balupu with Ravi Teja. Does she see a marked difference between Tamil and Telugu cinema? “I can’t say much about that. Each and every unit of a film is different, what matters is your role. I have got such incredible roles in Telugu. Even in Tamil I can safely say that I have never played a stereotypical role. It’s been fun. I have a few films line up,” says the actress.
    Mumbai beats
    For now Mumbai is her home. And she is taking her films rather seriously this time around. She wants to do quality films and not just worry about box office returns. She once described her first visit to the city as “a musician type who’d just stepped out of a boat from LA.” Then everything was unplanned, right from her debut with her good friend, Imran Khan to her playback singing career. Not anymore. Her second coming is more structured and hopefully effective. For instance, she has signed her first comedy film in her 12 film-old career, Welcome Back (a role which was orginally slotted for Asin). “It is premature to talk about it. It’s something I have never done before. It’s a clean, fun family entertainer. It’s an incredibly funny script and I am really looking forward to my first comedy film,” laughs the actress. Tell her that her Alvida song from D Day was much appreciated and she is pleased. “Music is an integral part of me. It defines me. I still continue to do playback. Composing music is a different high,” says the actress.
    On the personal front
    Unlike other actresses, Shruti has been forthright about her single status, rubbishing all rumours about a live-in relationship with actor Siddharth or a brief dalliance with Dhanush during the making of 3. “Dhanush is an important friend because when nobody thought I could play the part in 3, he stood by me and said I could do it. Also, we get along well. We have so much to talk about. He is also a comprehensive artiste. He has always helped me artistically ,” says the actress. For someone that young, she understands that very often relationships aren’t what one often expects from them. But she is clear that her priority, at least for now, is on her career. “I am in a good space and am able to find balance in everything,” she confirms.
    Tweets, fashion and more
    Her tweets are mostly about a musical she has watched or her new film. So does she have social networking rules ? “I don’t really tweet with an agenda. I just tweet about myself. I just think it is a great way of sharing my personality,” offers the actress. Her red carpet appearances cannot be faulted as well. “Fashion for me is an extension of my mind. Everything depends on my mood. For me the best thing aboout being on the red carpet is that I get to dress up for myself and not the character. I love statement neckpieces and accessories.” Does she think, with the smart phone era, that her privacy is frequently invaded? “Whether you like it or not, you have to accept being photographed all the time. I don’t usually like posing for photographs but I do it with fans all the time,” laughs the actress.
    Music love
    Shruti Haasan’s earliest musical memory was watching Stomp in New York with her dad. She recalls being blown away seeing actors using dustbins as drums as a kid. Tori Amos (American pianist, singer, songwriter and composer) has been a major influence along with Micheal Jackson (Billy Jean is her favourite), Illayaraja, R D Burman and A R Rahman. She plays the piano and thinks “voice” (her) is her most effective instrument. Being part of a musical like Phantom of the Opera is a dream for the young actress.

    —neelimamenon@epmltd.com

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