Shruti Haasan: I thought I was too ugly to become an actress
After a sabbatical from Hindi cinema of almost two-and-a-half years, Shruti Haasan acts in a light-hearted romantic film called Ramaiya Vastavaiya.
Directed by Prabhu Deva, the film marks the acting debut of producer Kumar Taurani's son, Girish Kumar.
The 27-year-old actress will also be seen next in Nikhil Advani's D Day, where she plays a sex worker. Co-incidentally, both films will release on July 19.
In this conversation with Sonil Dedhia, Shruti talks about what attracted her to Ramaiya Vastavaiya, why she thinks this is not her comeback film, and her relationship with her father, Kamal Haasan.
It's been almost two-and-a-half years since your last Hindi film (Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji) released. Ramaiya Vastavaiya is being termed your comeback film.
No, it's not my comeback. I have been really busy with films down south.
Two of my films are releasing on the same day now. I am sure the audience will be happy to watch both my films.
You must have got a lot of offers in those two years...
Yes, there were offers coming my way and it was a conscious decision not to take them up.
There were a couple of films that I really liked but I couldn't work out the dates. Other offers didn't interest me. I had certain commitments to fulfil in the south. Logistically, it was not possible for me to take up anything.
Image: Shruti Haasan
'It's a very sweet love story and I play a very sweet character'
What attracted you to a film like Ramaiya Vastavaiya considering the fact that you are paired opposite a newcomer, Girish Kumar?
It's a very sweet love story and I play a very sweet character.
Prabhu Deva is the finest director we have today if you want to make a commercial entertainer. He has such a high success rate. As a director, he knows what he wants from his actors.
The film has already been successful in two languages and I am sure people will love this film too.
What was it like working with Girish Kumar?
It was very nice. It is his debut film and he has put in a lot of hard work.
This is the first time I am working with a newcomer. The energy is totally different. Girish brought in a lot of energy.
Image: Shruti Haasan and Girish Kumar in Ramaiya Vastavaiya
'I have learnt to dissociate myself from success'
You have worked with superstars down south. Weren't you skeptical being cast opposite a complete newcomer?
It is not my responsibility. If I had the choice, I would cast Robert De Niro opposite me (laughs). It is the director who chooses the cast for his film.
The newcomer we are talking about is Girish Kumar, who is Kumar Taurani's son. A lot has gone into this film in terms of aesthetic value. I liked the script and my character and I have played my character to the fullest and done my best job.
Contemporary love stories have experimented with extra-marital affairs and live-in relationships while Ramaiya Vastavaiya looks like a very traditional love story. Do you think people would want to see it?
Indian cinema is known for its eternal love story. Even contemporary love stories have shades of classic romance.
At the end of the day, the hero of the film does everything that he can to get the girl. I am sure everybody will be able to connect to it.
You've had your share of success down south but you are still at a very nascent stage when it comes to Hindi films. Do you introspect about what has gone wrong so far?
I look at my own performance and try to improve that in my next film.
There isn't really a formula for success. As an actor, I do my job.
Success is something everyone would like to have but I have learnt to dissociate myself from it as it is not in my hands if the film works or doesn't work at the box office.
There are films that haven't done well, but where I feel I have given my strongest performance. If I am to sit and strategise things then I should have been a talent manager and not an actress.
Image: Shruti Haasan
'I never wanted to become a superstar'
Is it overwhelming being always known as Kamal Haasan and Sarika's daughter?
No, I don't think so. People have a short attention span and nobody is really obsessed about me being a star daughter.
Yes, I would agree if there's news about my father, then I do get attention. Over the years people have begun knowing me as Shruti Haasan and I have consciously tried to build my own identity.
I never wanted to become a superstar. I just want to be appreciated for my work.
I have interviewed your father Kamal Haasan and he said he would like to work with you only when you become successful in Hindi cinema.
I think I am successful but that is not the criterion for me to work with him. He has already asked me thrice so I am presuming that I am successful (laughs).
He has always been a big inspiration. Even today, he has the same enthusiasm as a newcomer.
He is a very encouraging father and I am proud to be his daughter.
Image: Shruti Haasan in Oh My Friend
'Live-in relationship is a big question mark for me'
What do you think about marriage and live-in relationships?
I believe in the institution of marriage. I would love to be married but don't know when it will happen.
As far as live-in relationships are concerned, I haven't really thought about it. Personally, a live-in relationship is a big question mark as I prefer to live alone.
My mother lives just three streets down from my house but I have always preferred to live alone. I like to be in my own space.
Did you always want to become an actor?
Growing up, I always thought I was too ugly to become an actress. I played a lot of sports and was always out in the sun.
I had this belief that actresses are very beautiful. But I was clear that I always wanted to do something related to films.
Image: Shruti Haasan
'I don't think I have any limitations as an actor'
Your character in D Day has been in the news...
I play a commercial sex worker in the film and a lot of news has been created around it.
For me, what is important is that it is a very intense character and I am glad that director Nikhil Advani thought I would suit the character. It's a very pivotal role and is one of the catalysts of the film.
You play a very 'bold' character in D Day. What are your limitations as an actor?
My character isn't bold in D Day.
I don't think I have any limitations as an actor. I don't have any inhibitions and I am learning to do that with each and every film of mine.
I am shameless about my performance and would like to excel in all my films.
Image: Shruti Haasan in D Day