Many a time, it is the picturesque backdrops and aesthetically aligned grandiose of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s universe that is considered the setting for an Indian woman’s ideal reimagination of their world. But, honestly, there are enough women who vibe with the dark, gritty, and rustic edges of let’s say a KGF.
Shruti Haasan is one such woman, and this affinity towards that aesthetic continues with her upcoming film, Salaar, which is cut out of the same dusty and dark fabric of the KGF universe. “I have never found the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s beautiful frames as beautiful as the coal mines of KGF, because that is just the metal-headed me,” says Shruti, who embraces all of the darkness in her latest song, Monster Machine, which has her Salaar team of cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda and production designer TL Venkatachalapathi.
Shruti, an actor, musician, and singer-songwriter, who waltzed into the industry with a superstar surname, has managed to be more than just one identity.
“I am very instinctive and a person who has a lot of facets that I enjoy feeding to. When I am in a room with you, I am with you. I really learned to be in that moment. But I enjoy having the option of facilitating my parallel identities.” Shruti has just released her original, Monster Machine, which she describes as a song that describes the feminine urge to embrace their dark spaces.
“It was something that I was feeling internally. As I found a way to articulate, I realised how I liked using relationships as a narrative. I am not a romantic but I like using the love song format. This is really a love song to me. I wrote the lyrics addressing the sisterhood of feminism without being obvious about it.”
Known for her strong stance for feminism, Shruti understands what the concept really stands for. It does not mean the actor recuses herself from the limited yet commercial aspects some films have to offer her, but also using that leverage to establish her thoughts through other mediums as well.
“There are times when I used to wander off and have vague thoughts, like pouring tar on yourself (which is featured in the song), when I am waiting for my shot on movie sets. Cut to, I might be doing a different shot altogether next moment. I wanted to showcase all these bizarre thoughts and show the dichotomy a person can have. Also, I wanted to play into the witch archetype. With generations, the punishment changes but the fire always burns the misunderstood women. I read a quote where we are the granddaughters of the witches you couldn’t burn and I believe I am of that lineage.”
Shruti, who balances music and acting, says, “There are films that I choose for different reasons, commercial, financial, but most of the time, because I want to play the part.” The actor also reiterated how her music has greatly benefitted from cinema. “The way I write now, I allow myself to be a character, write like a screenplay, with a beginning, middle, and an end. Even the character-building for a song comes from my cinema experience. That is why I want to make music videos, which is where both my worlds meet. Now, a lot of mainstream films are also ingesting independent music,” she adds.
The actor in Shruti is currently involved in two projects that may be poles opposite, but equally interesting —Salaar and The Eye. Despite the gargantuan expectations from the Prashanth Neel-Prabhas film, Shruti remains unnerved.
“There is a certain guarantee that comes with Prashanth sir and Prabhas. I had a wonderful time shooting for the film. It is one of those worlds, which is interesting and layered.” As for her Hollywood project, The Eye, Shruti says she went in the project blind, purely trusting the script, and nothing else. “It is on the festival circuit and really nice because it is a team full of women. There was genuine sisterhood. It is an honest, truthful film that gave me a humbling experience,” she adds.
Shruti is also wary about how being strongly opinionated is viewed in the world of cinema.
“When I started out, everyone from managers to co-actors was like I won’t get work if I share my opinions.” But that didn’t stop her from evolving into a person she really is, with the help of the medium.
“I am happy if an artist is looked at as a product with different facets. But off late, there are a lot of sun-kissed or similarly-curated galleries. The homogeneity questioned me why I am on social media. I am on it to show part of myself which I can’t in interviews or films. There are many sides to me. So I use social media to filter out the riff raff. I think it is important to learn to be alone on social media, and the community you form online should be for building, not breaking down,” signs off Shruti.
Actor-musician Shruti Haasan talks on the sidelines of the release of her song Monster Machine, embracing the witch archetype, using social media to her advantage, and of course about Salaar and The Eye