Shruti Haasan says dad Kamal Haasan's opinion on her work is 'never scary because he's king of constructive criticism'
- Shruti Haasan, who is set to appear in Amazon Prime Video's new thriller Bestseller, talks about her move to the streaming space and how she handles feedback on work from dad Kamal Haasan.
Shruti Haasan is diving head first into the OTT space with her new show Bestseller. The thriller, set to stream on Amazon Prime Video, sees the actor share screen space with Arjan Bajwa, Mithun Chakraborty, and Gauahar Khan among others. In a candid conversation with Hindustan Times ahead of the show's release, Shruti talks about what drew her to the show, facing the tag of 'South' actress, and how she deals with criticism from her dad - legendary actor Kamal Haasan.
Bestseller is a thriller and Shruti says she was convinced to do it because the script read like a good thriller novel. "It was basically just a very interesting read. I love reading good stories and not just as a script. I am a reader and here, I got the energy that I couldn't really put it down, which is a good sign considering I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)," she says.
The show follows novelist Tahir Wazir (Arjan), who is facing a writer's block and encounters a simple small town girl Meetu (Shruti), and how their lives spiral out of control as a social media troll targets them. Doubts were raised on Shruti's ability to play a small-town girl but the actor laughs it all away. She promptly points out she has largely played rural characters all her career.
"I think that's my whole career, to be honest. My biggest hit in Telugu is Gabbar Singh, which is me playing a village girl. In Hindi, I did Ramaiya Vastavaiya and a D-Day where I play a prostitute and a village virgin in the same year (2013). I really find this question interesting, not silly. None of us are village girls but some of us are just more outside of the village, which is fair. It's the way we project ourselves off of character. Having said that, I've never played a character that's anything like me," she says.
But its not how her off camera image is perceived that ticks Shruti off. It's when people question her Hindi skills, even though she has worked in the industry for over a decade. "There are people I currently work with who have that question after I respond to them in Hindi," she says.
The actor says the questions about her Hindi are part of the several 'micro aggressions' she faces that are attached with the 'south heroine' tag she seems to have. She elaborates, "I feel there are micro aggressions that I face outside of just 'Aap Hindi bol paayengi kya (Will you be able to speak Hindi)', which I find hilarious because I grew up speaking Hindi. Telugu is the language I never spoke, and no one has ever questioned me on that. There is that 'south ka' tag. Honestly, we have come to a day and age when it's irrelevant and I like to call it out because I am a proud Tamil girl but I'm an actor first and above all, I am an Indian."
Shruti comes from a family of performers. Her father Kamal Haasan is one of the most celebrated actors the country has seen, and her younger sister Akshara, too, is an actor. So, is cinema a constant topic of discussion at the family dinner table? "If it's a natural thing that comes up," Shruti responds, elaborating, "With my dad, I'd much rather discuss his work because there's much more for me to learn from that. We discuss the films we see."
However, the actor adds that their discussions about cinema are focused on the art side and not the commerce of it. "We talk about filmmaking, technology, and storytelling but never about the business. We are very bad at it, at best," she adds with a laugh.
Given his filmography and achievements, Kamal is a natural source of feedback for Shruti. However, she says he never gives harsh feedback and his criticism is not something she is afraid of. She tells us, "He is very astute of how to give criticism being a sensitive artiste himself. I am never scared of it because he is never going to take a giant poo on me, figuratively speaking. He'll say it very factually and practically. I love constructive criticism because an opinion with no backbone is something none of us should be interested in. And he is the king of constructive criticism. I have taken a lot of his advice on board."
The ongoing promotions for Bestseller meant Shruti was working on Valentine's Day, immersed in back-to-back media interactions. When we quiz her on the same, the actor laughs, calling V-Day 'over-rated'. She adds, "I don't mean to dissuade those who celebrate it with fervour but I am just not them." In fact, Shruti says that she was glad to be busy working on the day given that V-Day was not particularly a happy memory for her growing up years due to her self-confessed tomboy image. "I am glad was working actually. It was so traumatic for me because I never got a Valentine's proposal or card. Guys would just walk up to me and say let's play cricket," laments Shruti.
Apart from Shruti, Mithun, Arjan, and Gauahar, Bestseller also stars Satyajeet Dubey and Sonalee Kulkarni. Produced by Siddharth Malhotra’s Alchemy Production LLP and directed by Mukul Abhyankar, the show begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on February 18.