Shruti Haasan
Upala KBR (DNA; June 26, 2017)

Shruti Haasan isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. She’s strong-headed and doesn’t shy away from talking about anything under the sun — be it nepotism or government taxes. Like her larger-than-life father Kamal, she’s time and again stuck her neck out and voiced her take on the socio-political goings-on. Her Be the Bitch video that elicited a mixed response, being a case in point. Perhaps, this refreshing honesty and a don’t-give-a-damn approach when it comes to discussing issues — be it her personal life or political affairs — make her a treat to interview. Over to the actress, who never had it easy despite hailing from an illustrious film family and who hates being seen at B-Town parties...

What is happening to Sabaash Naidu, the film with your dad?
We started shooting and I finished about 60-70 per cent of my work and then Papa suffered a leg injury so he was unable to shoot. We are going to resume shooting again and finish it because there’s only a little bit left, and hopefully release it this year. It’s a fun family entertainer. I think people expected me and Dad to do something mega intense, which we will later, but we wanted to introduce ourselves together in a film with something fun and positive.

Your dad is not diplomatic when it comes to addressing issues. You don’t seem to be like that. Comment.
There are certain things I don’t comment on because I think I am not informed enough to make an open or bold statement about — especially when it comes to politics. My dad is politically opinionated but that’s because he studied the subject and he is that kind of a person. I am wary of commenting on certain things because more than offending someone, I don’t want to come across like a misinformed idiot. When people speak on subjects they don’t know about — that’s not based on fact but on opinion. But there are certain things that I am very vocal about like women’s rights.

Your father has spoken against the Finance Ministry’s decision to tax the entertainment industry at 28 per cent as per the GST rollout. Being a part of the film industry, any opinions on that?
I wish the taxes we pay were put to better use. I am sure that every Indian feels like this. Of course, there are certain developments but for the taxes we pay, a lot of times, it is like — one second, what am I paying for? Women are not safe in this country, patrolling is not enough, but at the same time, when you compare safety to other countries like the US, you feel they are doing a great job of keeping their citizens protected. But on the other hand, I feel very sad for the situation of women, who don’t have the privileges or safety measures that I have.

Why don’t we see your mom, Sarika, in more films?
You will have to ask her. It wouldn’t be right to comment on this. She is very particular about her scripts for sure.

You left Sangamithra because you didn’t have a bound script. Comment.
To work without a bound script and give 200 days of your life is just not a sensible decision. I have to be honest. I am answerable to myself and my conscience. Can I commit a 100 per cent treading forward with doubt? And, I have never been an actor who ditches a film like that. Whatever kind of film I do, I want to know that my heart is in it and I’m completely committed to it.

You are a star child. Do you agree with Kangana Ranaut that nepotism exists in the film industry?
I don’t completely agree. Of course, nepotism exists, but I know actresses who got parts meant for me just because they were hanging out with somebody, which is not fair. I am not going to lie and say that getting a break in films has been an uphill struggle for me. The fact is, the door is open for star children. I got my break quicker than other people, but nobody gave me a film after that. I wasn’t big in my first film and nobody was like, ‘Let’s not offend Kamal Haasan or his daughter, and offer her films’. I got a lot of criticism, and I had to work extremely hard for the first three years of my career.

Please continue
I would like to say that my parents have never asked for favours for me. I have made my career completely on my own. I have seen people whose daddies and mummies aren’t somebody, but they are favoured; they have godfathers or some backing, which I have not had. Maybe it has taken me longer than others to reach where I have but it’s my journey and one that I am really proud of. I have never been part of a camp or enjoyed favouritism. I have come, done my job, and left. That’s about it.

Did you ever feel that acting wasn’t the right choice after your first film?
Sometimes some really amazing things don’t work at all and really crappy things work. It’s really hard to say what the formula is — except for working hard and hoping for the best. There are films that I am so proud of, like 3 or D Day, even though they didn’t do so well at the box office. These are the films that I would love to show my kids because I loved being a part of them, and then there are hit films, but I think they are just all right. They didn’t change me as a person or change my life, but definitely took me to another level in my career.

You are rarely seen at parties or social events...
I am not really into that. I get very little time between my work schedules. Whatever spare time I get, I want to spend it with my family and friends who recharge my batteries. When I go to parties where I don’t know people, it makes me nervous, and I feel like I am still shooting, working, and am on my guard. Hanging out at a party with people I don’t really know is not my idea of fun.