Kamal Haasan’s favourite singer?
Her film career’s going great guns with her debut film, Soham Shah’s Luck opposite Imraan Khan, ready for release. As for her music, she’s now in Los Angeles working on her first English album.Shruti Haasan has her hands full in the most wonderful way, but she’s not letting any confusion creep into her two passions, films and music. "Both films and music are an integral part of me and I give each the space they deserve."
Shruti Haasan (23)
Daughter of: Kamal Haasan and Sarika
The elder daughter of Sarika and Kamal Haasan, Shruti’s very proud of her parentage and upbringing. “I always had music around me, 24X7. My dad loved The Who and Beatles, my mom loved Floyd and Dylan. Dad was always so alive; he would be singing and entertaining us, or making us sing and dance. It was an electric and artistically charged atmosphere.”
Even so, Shruti says she never really knew what she wanted to be. “Chennai was an incredible rooted place to grow up in. I went to a lovely school (Lady Andal, Chennai) which really helped in developing a sense of self. I grew up with amazing friends and a lot of books.”
Books are another passion.” I love reading! I could talk for hours and hours about authors and books that have changed my life.” Kafka, whose “It’s often safer to be in chains than to be free” quote adorns her Myspace profile, is a special favourite.
But the life of a singing star was a huge attraction. “I remember putting on a CD and practising with a hair brush in front of a mirror in my bathroom and blowing kisses to invisible audiences. I began as a bathroom singer,” she says with a wink.
Shruti was just six when she sang her first song for Ilaiyaraaja, and made her Bollywood playback debut shortly thereafter singing with her father for Chachi 420 and then Hey Ram.
In the alternative music scene Shruti made her debut with her band The Extrementals at the Rolling Stone launch last year. But it’s not easy to survive in non-mainstream music, Shruti feels. “I’ve seen so many wonderful bands and it isn’t easy. I really respect their consistency and passion.”
Cut to the present, Shruti feels it's a great time to be part of Bollywood. “There are so many people making different choices, narrating unique stories and basically pushing their own buttons. It’s a very important time.”
Shotgun Sinha’s little girl
She wanted to be a biotechnologist or an astronaut, but her poor mathematics came in the way. In retrospect, actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha’s youngest child Sonakshi Sinha is happy she didn’t plan too hard."I like the way my life has shaped up minus the planning," says this fashion design student who aspires to model her own creations on ramp. Well, that didn’t quite happen but Sonakshi did lose nearly 30 kilograms to make her ramp debut last year.
Sonakshi Sinha (22)
Daughter of: Shatrughan Sinha
Sonakshi, who turned 22 this week, is clearly the kid of the family as she takes a break from this interview to answer her mother — “Haan mumma, I’ll take it na…” Turning back, she continues, “We’ve always been kept away from the industry and led a private, sheltered life. I have no friends from the industry. Mom made sure to keep us grounded.”
A student of fashion design at SNDT college, Mumbai, “modelling just happened” says Sonakshi. “I’m really enjoying it now but I won’t waste my education. I was student of the year at SNDT and I plan to launch my label after having made a name for myself. People will identify better with my label when they know of me otherwise.”
But that’s the long-term plan; for now, she’s looking at scripts for her Bollywood debut. “I don’t want run-of-the-mill stuff; my parents are taking care of that department. Once I get off ground I’m confident to make my mark. After all, I am my father's daughter!”
She would love to act opposite Hrithik Roshan and “all the Khans”, and has her pick of favourite directors too — “Anurag Kashyap and Ashutosh Gowarikar. I would like to do films with old world charm, something like Jodha Akbar and Parineeta.”
“Cinema has changed so much over the years, but you know now is a good time for new comers. The script is what matters, no big star names or big budgets, so I’m glad I’m here now.”
Being a star kid can be a huge plus, it can be a disadvantage too. “I don’t face any problems thanks to my parents. But I’m very clear —do my work and go back home. If you do make friends along the way, you are lucky.”
Sonakshi also knows her limits. “My parents are quite happy as long as I don’t cross limits…something like walking in a bikini is a strict no-no,” she gushes.
Doting mother Poonam chips in, “She has always been a creative kid. I remember how she used to sketch silhouettes and designs on paper as a kid and throw it away. I would go and pick them up. She took time to identify her creativity but I always knew it.”
“But of course it’s safe to say she has taken more after her father,” she adds.
Another Nigam takes the mike
Neekita Nigam (24)
Sister of: Sonu Nigam
Though she has sung for south Indian films and also for a few Hindi ones like Pyare Mohan and Marigold, Neekita is hoping Anil Kapoor’s Shortcut, where she’s sung for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, will help her make a splash. But she isn’t limiting herself to films and has already started work on her debut pop album, for which she’ll compose a few songs too.
“People say I could’ve started earlier, but I don’t think it’s late now. I’d rather be a self-made person like my father and brother. I wouldn’t want my brother going around recommending me. So I waited for my time to come,” says Neekita who holds a doctorate in hypnotherapy.
Although her father (Agam Kumar) and brother are her biggest influences, it was her elder sister Meenal who’s responsible for her singing career. As for her brother, “He is an amazing artist, but I don’t live under his shadow. I did whatever was offered, which were Telugu songs to start with.”
Does she want to turn actor? “Honestly yes, I’m a big movie buff. I’ve got offers but I’ll take it up when I get the right role.”
Teeing off on her own steam
It can’t have been easy to have badminton legend Prakash Padukone as father and Deepika Padukone as sister, but Anisha is doing quite nicely as a budding golfer.
Anisha Padukone (17)
Sister of: Deepika Padukone
While following in Deepika’s footsteps was never an option, Anisha did flirt with the idea of becoming a badminton player. “I tried my hand at it, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of the other sports,” says the David Beckham fan who even played inter-school football.
It was golf that she finally zeroed in on after accompanying her father to the course as a 12-year-old. Training under Vijay Divecha at the Bangalore Golf Course for the last five years, Anisha began competing at the national level last year.
The first year on the amateur circuit was a learning experience for the Mount Carmel junior college student but she is confident that results will come in soon.
Initially, Anisha had planned to shifted to the United States for her studies and also to work on her golf, but she has now decided to stay put in Bangalore. “I have joined Jain college and will be pursuing a BA degree,” she says. “I feel I will benefit more if I stay back in India. I admit there is still a big gap between the standard of women’s golf in India and the world. But that’s changing,” adds Anisha, who aims to turn professional in eight years.
To begin with, Anisha’s coach has set her the target of breaking into the top-10 in the amateurs ranking in the country.
“Considering that Anisha started playing on the national stage just a year ago, I feel her performance has been satisfactory. Obviously, she will gain more experience and that will help her development as a player,” Divecha says.
Both Anisha and Divecha are aware of the rigours of a professional golfer. Anisha hits the gym thrice a week and has been working on improving her putting technique. According to Divecha, it’s her single-minded dedication that gives him the confidence that she can achieve what she is aiming for.
And Anisha admits that creating an identity for herself beyond being called the daughter of Prakash and sister of Deepika is what drives her to work harder. “Everyone wants to make their own mark with their accomplishments and achievements and I am no different,” she signs off.
In Hero No 1’s footsteps
Daughter of: Govinda
The media already has her pegged as the latest glamour gal on the block. She’s already added a few extra alphabets to her name for luck.
Last year, she accompanied Salman Khan to an awards function — setting the rumour mills on fire. But ask Narmmadaa about it, and the young lady answers with typical Bollywood doublespeak — and a broad wink — “Ah, let me not comment on all that. I don’t want to begin another controversy!”
By all accounts, Narmmadaa loves all the hype, even though she’s appropriately bashful in her manner. “I hope I can match up to it [the expectations] and more. My parents are always there to guide me and the best part is that they give me the freedom to decide..”
And decide she has — she wants to be an actor. After all this is a girl who grew up watching her father on the sets, even bunking school on occasion. Even so, Narmmadaa insists it wasn’t a decision that she made lightly. “I took a little time to decide. But around the age of 17, I was certain I wanted to follow in daddy’s footsteps. And I’ll give it my best shot.”
Acting is, of course, not her only aspiration — 10 years down the line she wants to see herself “surrounded by beautiful children. All of them would also be known for their good nature.”
Though she attributes her acting genes to her father, she says she gets all the rest from her mother. “I closely resemble my mom; even my complexion is like hers. And you know what? My mom is a beautiful person from outside and more so from within.”
There is a lot of speculation about what films she signs but the girl is in no hurry. “I got back from London last month and that’s when the news about my debut broke out in the media. I know that because of my dad, interest levels are high. But I want to take a time to select the right projects.”
“Different makers have different styles and treatments for their films. I'd like to do one film with each. Bas itna sa khawab hai…” she says with practised ease.