Tryst with the biggies

debut date

Tryst with the biggies

There are a number of reasons aspiring actors might envy Akshara Haasan and her peers might be cautious about her entry into Bollywood. The younger daughter of powerhouse talents actress Sarika and actor-director-producer Kamal Haasan, Akshara is making her movie debut with co-stars Dhanush and Amitabh Bachchan in a film directed by R Balki (Paa, Cheeni Kum). Akshara plays a pivotal role in Shamitabh, which releases on February 6.

The 23-year-old began her career as an assistant director and over the years, she has reportedly turned down a number of plum acting offers. Her inclination was towards directing, she had said. “I was not in the right place or ready to become an actor,” says Akshara. “I was assisting on films and ads and learning dance. I wanted to explore other opportunities as well. But then I acted in a play in Mumbai and that process stimulated me creatively.” Providentially, a few months later, she met Balki. “Not many people knew that I was ready to become an actor. So when he approached me I thought he wanted me to be assistant director on his next film!” Akshara could not have been more wrong.

For starters
While the first wave of realisation was that she was being offered the female lead in Shamitabh, the second realisation was that her co-stars would be Bachchan and Dhanush. “When it hit me, I was like why did I say yes! I am in deep trouble and I will have to pull up my socks and work hard to prove myself.” She is all praise and gratitude for her much senior co-stars who she said were every bit supportive, generous and sweet. “The advantage of senior actors is that they have been there and they understand. That made things so much easier for me,” she says.

Although different in terms of their experiences (Dhanush has worked mainly in Tamil films and Bachchan is a veteran Bollywood star), Akshara found that the two actors shared one common trait: “Whatever kind of actor you may be, give 100 per cent.” From observing them, Akshara also learnt the value of hard work and discipline. “Working with them helped me discover what kind of an actor I can be,” she says.

Born to act
While her director and her co-stars may have been her guides on set, at home her vastly experienced parents were offering unconditional support, of the kind parents offer a child going to a new school or a dance class. “They just advised me to be calm and be myself. The big advantage was that when I came home from the  sets, I had tutors at home who could guide through things that I did not understand,” says Akshara. Her parents’ passion for their work, a satisfaction in what they do, the drive to push their boundaries and expand themselves inspires Akshara.

As the daughter of her actor parents and sister Shruti, does Akshara feel the burden of responsibility as she steps out into the spotlight? After a moment’s thought she answers: “I am the sort of person who would never want to spoil my family name. As an actor I also have a responsibility towards my director and co-actors.”

For a newcomer, if the only way is up, and you have entered at the top, then where do you go next? “That’s true. I would have to wait and see how I choose my next project. Right now, I have not had any discussion regarding any other film.”

Akshara represents that generation of actors for whom the world is as small as their cellphones. Cinematic references range from Turkish and Hollywood to American TV shows and Indian independent films. “I really liked The Interview, and Gone Girl disturbed me for days together. I love Gangs of Wasseypur and the Turkish film I Saw The Sun.”

Ask her if she enjoyed shooting the movie and she says, “Being on sets before (as an assistant director) and acting in plays helped me understand the craft. I am happy with my work in Shamitabh.”

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