Deccan Chronicle

Angry women do it best: Shruti Haasan

Deccan Chronicle.| Puja Talwar

Published on: March 5, 2023 | Updated on: March 5, 2023
Shruti Haasan is a rebel with a cause, unsparing when it comes to speaking the truth and is unapologetically herself. The multi-faceted actress believes in walking her talk. (Photo: DC)

Shruti Haasan is a rebel with a cause, unsparing when it comes to speaking the truth and is unapologetically herself. The multi-faceted actress believes in walking her talk. (Photo: DC)

 It’s been a good start to the year for Shruti Haasan. Her Telugu releases, Veera Simha Reddy with Nandamuri Balakrishna and Waltair Veerayya co-starring Chiranjeevi and Ravi Teja, performed well at the box office. "It’s a good life I am really thankful, I had two big releases in the start of the year and two at the end, and in the middle, I will do all that I love to do, says Shruti, who recently wrapped the schedule for Prashanth Neel’s much awaited Salaar starring Prabhas. The actor is careful not to spill the beans about the film due for release September 2023. She says, "Prashant Neel has always delivered. In Salaar he has created a beautiful world which we are all a part of, and it’s super exciting."

Talking about co-star Prabhas, she says, "He is wonderful and is the second biggest foodie I have ever encountered. His love for food is so real, he just wants to feed everyone around."

Equating box office numbers with social media followers, Shruti says with a laugh, "the figures are important but it’s the distributors and the people at the backend who know the real truth. I don’t get these banners announcing so many hundred crores, it’s like those Instagram accounts which suddenly get 20 million followers."

Seeking challenging roles

Shruti has had her share of mega box office hits and not-so-hit films. While she has shared screen space with the biggest stars in the Tamil and Telugu industry, the actor seems to have now consciously struck a balance between mainstream and alternative cinema and also the digital space. From Puli, Vedalam, Si3 and Krack to anthologies such as Puthum Pudhu Kalai and Pitta Kathalu, it is evident that her approach to her craft has undergone a change, bringing with it a sense of ownership.

"I feel it took me longer than others to figure out who I am, why I’m doing this, and what the meaning and purpose of it is. Some women have the energy of ‘I do what I want to do and how I want to do’, and their career has followed suit. For some of us it’s been a little more complicated. I am adapting, realizing there is a particular space and time for me. Now I look for things I don’t have in my life and in my personality. So I am choosing those personalities and women to play where I no longer need to say, ‘Oh this relates to my own character’ rather than focusing on the overarching drives of women and their motivations. We are all so different, complicated and layered. So I think I am making that choice to connect to every woman and her story."

Espousing equality

Calling out the disparity in the pay structure for male and female actors, Shruti says the pressing priority is to have more female-oriented stories as well as representation for women in the bastions of power. She brushes off ageism as a small problem, saying that with experience comes power, which is truly amazing. "What we need are a lot more female stories, a lot more women telling those stories, it’s not that effective through the male gaze," she stresses.

Citing her latest international project —The Eye, a psychological thriller directed by Daphne Schmon — as an example, she says, "it’s a fully female team, from the writer, producer and director, and you can see the difference. I am not saying every film has to be like that. If it’s a macho man’s story it makes sense for a man to tell it, but conversation is important around the different kinds of women. We box them as female subjects. I have never heard of a male-oriented script. These conversations need to be started."

With over 22 million followers on Instagram, Shruti says gleefully that she does not fit the profile of a typical female heroine. "I have had people telling me, ‘You look like a witch’, and I’m okay with that because, don’t witches represent something"? she says with a laugh.  "These are the same people who think a nearly nude male actor looks cute whilst a female will be labeled a S**T". It’s a mindset which will change in time," she adds.

On Shantanu and marriage

The 37-year-old actor has been in a relationship with artist and rapper Shantanu Hazarika since 2020. She admits that her partner has not seen most of her movies. "He respects my industry but does not care for it beyond a point. His only concern is how I work as an artist, he really pulls me up and keeps me grounded," she shares.

Shruti admits to being constantly asked about marriage plans like any other woman. "It’s the social conditioning, they think at a certain age you should be married and with kids. Earlier I used to say I don’t want to get married. Now I am open to the concept, but don’t know when I am doing it. It’s not part of my main timeline and after all it’s something you share with one individual and not the world." she asserts.

‘Dancing with the devil’

No stranger to life under the spotlight, having experienced it since she was a child, the actor is well aware of the constant media scrutiny which comes with being a celebrity – in her case the Haasan’ surname adds to the weight. Commenting on recent incidents when stars have called the paparazzi out for invading their private space, Shruti says, "Invasion of privacy is wrong but as a celebrity this is the life you chose. Being photographed in your home is not okay. But it’s also very tricky, because many times actors and their teams call the paps and inform them where they are going. Then they say they don’t want them to take pictures." She adds, "The paps don’t know where I work out or what I do. 98 percent of the time I have invited them to cover an event or maybe show an outfit that I want covered, that’s about it. It’s tricky — if you dance with the devil, then the devil will want to dance with you too."

So if she was to pen a book on her life, what would she consider an appropriate title? "Angry Women Do It Best", she says with a loud laugh.

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