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Surname: Limiting or liberating?

I'm very proud of my surname: Shruti Haasan

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Shruti Haasan

Shruti Haasan, actor, singer and music composer, is in the news following her debut in Tamil in A R Murugadoss’ 7am Arivu. In the film, she plays Subha Srinivasan, a genetic engineering student and an aspiring scientist whose research is in the area of genetic memory. Soon, she will start shooting for Gabbar Singh (the Telugu remake of Dabangg) with Pavan Kalyan. Taking some time off from 3, a Tamil film with Dhanush, being directed by Aishwarya Rajinikanth, Shruti fields a few questions on cinema, music, life and choices...

Why did you wait this long to debut in Tamil?

I had no particular plan to begin with, so there were no timelines that I was sticking to really. I always wanted to work across languages and I'm glad my debut in Tamil cinema is with a film like 7am Arivu.

Tell us about working with the team of 7am Arivu. . .


It's a great cast and crew to work with and the learning experience has been tremendous. It was incredible working with (AR) Murugadoss, who is really so clear about his vision and how he wants his characters to be, along with a co-star like Suriya and an amazing set of technicians. I'm thrilled the film is doing well at the box office.

Do you feel the need to rely on big and known names in the industry to establish yourself?


I feel it's important to work with the right people who can bring out your potential and give you a strong platform to establish yourself. If they are big names, so be it.

You've been fairly picky about your roles, right? What about Subha Srinivasan drew you into this film?


Something about the character has to call out to me and make me want to play her. I think it has to challenge me in some way. What I really liked about Subha's character is that she is very modern in her outlook yet proud of her roots. That was, for me, an interesting mix - the fact that she was young, driven, wise and super intelligent. Film-wise, she is also a crucial character in terms of the narrative as she works as a link between the past and present and is, in a sense, a catalyst to the story.

How did you gear up to get into Subha's skin?


A lot of the preparation for me was just really about listening and attempting to see Subha as my director pictured her in his head. He really had all the research and material ready as far as her character was concerned. So all I had to do was follow his direction. Personally, it meant I had to calm myself down physically, as I'm usually pretty hyperactive compared to Subha who is calm and sorted in her head.

There is a buzz that 7am Arivu is being re-made in Hindi with Aamir Khan. Are you excited?


You bet! Aamir Khan always does great things with the projects that he is a part of. But honestly, nothing is confirmed yet on that front.

You made your debut in Luck (with Imraan Khan). How different is the experience from working in Tollywood and Kollywood?


The working experiences are different from project to project, more than from region to region. I've never really split things up like that so I would say that every movie set has a different vibe and energy and that's always exciting to me.

Does the fact that you have a mixed parentage (mother, Sarika is Marathi and father Kamal Hassan is a Tamilian) offer you an advantage?


I always think the mix is interesting. As a child, it has exposed me to so many different aspects of both of their lives and past and definitely has been an advantage.

What about the surname? Is it limiting or liberating?


I'm very proud of my name because of the things my family has achieved. I'm happy to have the name but I don't depend on it in any way. I have been brought up to make my own choices and be responsible for them and that to me has really been liberating as an individual. In

Tamil, you are working with Dhanush in 3, a film that is incidentally being directed by his wife, Aishwarya. Tell us about the energy and experience of working with a woman director.


It's my first experience working with a female director. Usually, I'm not the one to promote gender bias but yes it's definitely a different experience. I think Aishwarya is making a very special film and her perspective is different and I'm happy to be a part of it.

What about your musical pursuits? Will acting eat into your singing and composing time?


Not really. I'm doing a lot of playback for myself which is super interesting for me. I still write music, although I don't compose for films anymore as it requires a 24/7 commitment which is hard to pull off with a 24/7 shooting schedule. But music is a part of my soul. It is my way of being spiritual.

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