Shruti Haasan Speaks Out After Hindi Movie Behen Hogi Teri Controversy
Shruti Haasan does not believe in flaunting legacy. The limelight that comes with being Kamal Haasan and Sarika's daughter, she would insist, is incidental. 'It never works on my mind. It has neither hindered nor promoted my career, so the legacy of my parents is never really a pressure,' she says.
In an industry that is often accused of nepotism, Shruti's assertion would perhaps seem valid. Over a nearly decade-long stint in Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu films she has held her own, never really using the influence of her illustrious dad to bag projects.
Perhaps that bit lets her stay rooted, and avoids letting stardom go into her head. 'I have never felt like a star. At home we (sister Akshara and Shruti) are regular girls. Both parents have always supported us in whatever we did. Sure, there is criticism too but mostly it is constructive,' she says.
Shruti Haasan in Behen Hogi Teri
Kamal Haasan in fact came out to support Shruti's latest effort Behen Hogi Teri, out this week, when the film got embroiled in controversy a few days before release. A poster depicting hero Rajkummar Rao dressed as lord Shiv and seated on a motorbike enraged certain Hindu groups who claimed the picture made fun of the deity.
'Nobody sets out to offend anybody through their work,' contends Shruti. 'That particular scene is just a passing bit in the entire film. It is a slice of reality that can perhaps be seen anywhere in India.'
Does she agree with her dad's opinion that India is losing its sense of humour, as Kamal Haasan recently said while discussing the controversy over the film? 'I would say people all over the world at large — and www.bloglovin.com not just in India — tend to judge others easily these days. Free speech is not flowing as easily as it should no matter which nation you are in,' she says.
Shruti would rather concentrate on all things professional than such matters. 'As an artist, my focus is on work,' she says. Work right now refers to Behen Hogi Teri, debutant Ajay K. Pannalal's directorial effort co-starring Rajkummar Rao and Gautam Gulati.
The film is set in smalltown Lucknow and is a humorous take on the plight of a mild-mannered boy who falls in love with the feisty neighbourhood girl but is expected by all to treat her as his sister, in sync with traditional mindsets. Shruti plays the girl Binny, a character she describes as 'quite modern in certain ways, yet revealing smalltown values'.
Shruti in Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji in 2011
Binny, she adds, 'is a mix of the tough and the vulnerable, the romantic and the pragmatic'. 'I had to work on the Lakhnavi accent of Binny,' says Shruti, about preparation she needed to do for the role, although she mainly banked on what her director said.
'He had created the character of Binny based on his sister. We wanted to keep it simple,' Shruti adds.
Behen Hogi Teri marks her move to a more realistic realm, and is unlike most of what we have seen Shruti doing in Bollywood so far. She has mostly been an uber glamgirl in Hindi films, scorching the screen with her dream girl avatars in films such as Welcome Back, Gabbar Is Back as well as turning on the oomph factor with her item number in Tevar.
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'There was no grand plan to move onto realistic cinema with Behen Hogi Teri. It is just that I liked the story, so I agreed to do the film. Also, although I have done lots of believable roles down South, Hindi cinema never gave me the opportunity before,' she explains.
Has Hindi cinema been a tougher deal to crack, then? Shruti does not agree. 'It's not like Bollywood is a harder place to find a foothold. Only, I have been more focussed on my career in Tamil and Telugu films,' she reasons.
She is currently shooting in all three languages actually, for her father's upcoming release. The film, a spy comedy written and directed by Kamal Haasan, is titled Shabaash Kundu in Hindi and called Sabaash Naidu in Tamil and Telugu.
Shruti in D-Day, from 2013
Being directed by dad is a high point in her career, though Shruti would insist it is not necessarily due to the familial ties. 'Working in Shabaash Kundu was beautiful because I am being directed by one of the greatest artists of Indian cinema. This is the first time I work with my father as a lead actress and it has been a learning experience,' she said.
She defines herself as 'a bit of a wild child' and adds she is 'a little impulsive when it comes to life'. The traits, however, do not affect her work ethic, she insists. 'At the same time I am a careerist who is serious about my job, too. I think I would describe myself as a combo of being impulsive and level-headed.'
She is not willing to think about life as an actor beyond Shabaash Kundu just yet. Maybe, she will land that one role that will redefine her career, as has been happening to so many actresses in Bollywood lately. 'All I want is to be a part of every story that needs to be told on screen,' she said, revealing her dream.
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