Mumbai: Shruti Haasan, the actor who has worked across the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film industries, is also known for speaking her mind. Calling out the patriarchal nature of the film industry, the actor shared how she navigated through the “lopsided” gender dynamics on film sets.
Remembering her initial days as an actor, she said “I was initially reclusive and I generally don't engage with men or women who don't learn the value of other people's opinions.”
The actor said that in her initial years, she realised, “little” things on set which would be considered impolite, and that she sometimes chose silence as her defence mechanism.
I chose silence and withdrawal as a protective mechanism. I think a lot of women on the set feel that way. They'd say 'Don't keep reading a book, it looks impolite'. So I'd just keep going to the vanity van because I didn't know whom to communicate with. It took me a long time to learn how to navigate things.
- Shruti Haasan
Shruti, daughter of actor couple Kamal Haasan and Sarika, said she has had a combination of factors that have acted as a “protective barrier” for her in the industry, which included her surname.
“The combination of my surname and my resting b**** face has kept a lot of people at an arm's length. Now after many years, I feel comfortable and safe enough to open up and say whatever I want,” Shruti Haasan said.
From the days when she used to feel that her opinions weren't valued enough, things have changed much now.
“Now I find myself in a position where I'm able to discuss things with my co-stars, directors. I have been heard and acknowledged and that feels wonderful. Maybe my approach to wanting to be heard changed,” she said.
Shruti said the gender dynamic is so imbalanced because of the patriarchal society, which will always look after the men first, even in a film. “So the chair will be first kept for the hero. ‘Oh the hero has come near the monitor, get him a chair,' they would say,” she shares.
It's the good men who said, 'No, you please sit first.' I don't face that anymore. But what I can do as a woman is to be sensitive to the women on set
The 34-year-old actor currently features in the short film, Devi, directed by Priyanka Banerjee and produced by Niranjan Iyengar and Ryan Ivan Stephen.
The film depicts how nine women belonging to different strata of society are brought together by circumstance and end up forming a sisterhood after they share their stories of abuse.
“The script moved me as a woman. It wasn't like a public service announcement. It is life represented beautifully. It also targets the mindset which is always quick to blame the survivor - 'What was she wearing? Why was she out?' Tragedy doesn't discriminate. A rapist doesn't quantify, qualify and calculate,” she said....