Coming cross as charmingly childlike, at times even irreverent, Shruthi Haasan seems to have inherited the same penchant for defying stereotypes that her parents have been known for. She’s not crazy about cars or gadgets, has a pet cat named Gucci, spends all her money on DVDs, and says socks, deodorant and undies (yes) are her style essentials.
With a choir-boy figure, ‘punk rock-meets Goth’ image and an action debut-in-the-making, the young woman, at 21, is all set to rewrite a few rules.
Choosing action over romance Shruthi is no stranger to the arc lights. She faced the camera for the first time for a five-minute appearance in the climax of the critically acclaimed bilingual,Hey Ram.Later,she was spotted in a cameo as the daughter of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Mahatma Gandhi.
Rejecting prominent film offers, including Venkat Prabhu’s Saroja, she was also supposed to act in a Tamil film with Madhavan.
But that was shelved. Now she is ready to make her debut with Soham Shah’s Hindi film, Luck,which supposedly involves lots of action sequences and even sees her performing a few stunts. ‘‘Had I chosen to do a romantic comedy, I would have been criticised for having chosen a safe film,’’ says Shruthi. ‘‘Now that I am doing an action role, it’s all about how it’s too much of a risk for a debutante. Personally I don’t think there is anything such as ‘a safe bet’when it comes to cinema.’’ It was the script, she says, that drew her.
‘‘Moreover, right from my childhood, I have never been the ‘girly’ girl. I was always into a lot of sports in school. In fact, I have even learnt a bit of kalari when I was a child and I later took up classes in kickboxing.’’ Incidentally, Shruthi and her Luck co-star, Imran Khan,have literally grown up together (he often dropped by her place when she was living in Mumbai). So there are a lot of expectations — interesting on-screen chemistry being one of them. ‘‘It has been great working with Imran, but I really don’t think knowing or not knowing your co-star matters when you’re facing the camera,’’ shrugs Shruthi.
‘‘My father has always told me that even if you have to make love to a chair, you will still have to believe that it’s the only thing you’ve ever loved and act that way!’’ Becoming a rockstar Reacting to criticism that her ‘rockstar’dressing, black nail, metal chains et al, might clash with her movie star image, Shruthi says, ‘‘I really don’t think how I look off-screen matters on screen because, I am never going to be playing myself. It’s never going to be about Shruthi Haasan playing Shruthi Haasan.’’ That said, her first love is music. Ever since she crooned a few lines for Thevar Magan at the age of six,Shruthi Haasan has been working on her passion. Be it the anglicised rendition of Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram in Hey Ram, her concerts with her band, The Extramentals, or her more recent Adiye Kolluthey from Gautam Menon’s Vaaranam Ayiram, she shows the makings of a great performer.
She will also be singing in Luck.
As for her band,The Extramentals, she and her bandmates,Krishnan aka kitta,Jeremiah and Brian Paiva,are quite thick and apparently they accompany her to the film sets. ‘‘When I came back from the US (she was studying at Musicians Institute, California) and did not have much to do, my childhood friend Krishnan and I thought it was a great idea to start a band.There is a whole different energy associated with live performances that you can never experience while singing in a studio,’’ says Shruthi. Of late, Shruthi has been seen performing at several concerts, some of them big events like the Rolling Stone magazine launch, and sometimes even Tamil shows.The latter is a strange choice, I observe, considering her songs are primarily in English. ‘‘There is always something both challenging and exciting about introducing a genre of music to an audience that is not too used to it,’’ is her reply.
Runway muse Apart from singing, writing poetry and acting, Shruthi is becoming a familiar sight at fashion shows and store launches, like the FCUK launch, across the country. Last year, her introduction to the media was courtesy designer Rehane’s Space Age Sundari line in Chennai and Delhi,at the Wills India Lifestyle Fashion Week. And last month, at the Spring/Summer fashion week, Shruthi performed right through Rehane’s show, also singing the title track, Do you love me?.
Shruthi says she isn’t really brand conscious.
‘‘Even if it’s a pair of shorts picked up off the streets, I don’t mind wearing them as long as they fit well.’’ Dad’s little girl ‘‘My dad (Kamal Haasan, for those not in the know) does not believe in preaching, so I have never had him advising me or lecturing me. But I never make a decision without touching his feet and getting his blessings,’’ begins Shruthi. Does she get pointers from him on acting? ‘‘On the first day of shooting, I suddenly got a little nervous and jittery and that’s when he had to call and tell me, ‘What’s going on? This is not something that someone forced you to do.You chose to do this.’ He reminded me that I would have to take responsibility for my decision and figure my way around.’’ Most contemporary actors in Tamil cinema voice a desire to work with Kamal Haasan.His daughter is no different. ‘‘Even if I weren’t his daughter, I would be the first to line up for an audition if it would give me the chance of working with him,’’ she says. ‘‘Also,my father is known to portray women with a lot of sensitivity and respect in all his films. There are characters like ‘Roshni’ in Guna, who is the reason behind his sanity or insanity — these have particularly caught my fancy and I would have loved to portray them.’’ And comparisons on the sets? ‘‘ ‘She looks so much like her mom’, now that is something I get a lot.’’(laughs)