Simply candid Shruti Haasan

The multilingual star is awaiting the release of a new music album and an international TV show. She talks about her latest project in a Showtime exclusive

In a week when the world is discussing mental health, it’s fitting that Shruti Haasan is encouraging more people to talk openly about it too.

A few years ago, the actor openly spoke about being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. “I would always wonder why I couldn’t work as well as others, why I always stressed out.

Everything made sense when I was told that I have an anxiety disorder,” says Shruti.

She is not on medication but regularly goes for therapy. “I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last couple of years. I had  the option to take medication but it wasn’t my choice, though I have nothing against people who opt for it.” While many in the industry fear the adverse effects of  discussing their mental health, Shruti says she has received only positivity.

“People have no problem going to the doctor when they have a physical ailment like fever or diabetes. But there’s so much stigma around topics like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia; this causes people to hesitate to open up. I think it’s important that more people talk about it and normalise it,” she says.

In 2012, Shruti and Dhanush worked on the Tamil movie ‘3’ which spoke about bipolar disorder. While the theme of the movie was overshadowed by the popularity of the hit song ‘Why this Kolaveri Di’, she feels that it was a movie that gave her the scope to perform.

She says, “I still see people quoting the film on Instagram and Twitter. It’s great that it made an impact. It also helped me grow as an actor. After ‘7aum Arivu’, this was the other movie that let me do that.”

Movies for survival

Her approach to choosing roles have come a long way since she started.

“When I was offered ‘Luck’, I was working as a full-time musician. You know how it is… you barely make the money to pay your months’ rent. So when I was offered the film, I thought it was a great opportunity,” she confesses.

Her idea of being an actor was quite different though as she’s only seen what it’s like from the other side. “When I saw the film at the premiere, I realised that I hadn’t given it my 100 per cent. That hit me hard and I’ve been working on improving that since then.”

The actor and musician has worked across industries since then, and her latest venture is with an international television series called ‘Treadstone’. She plays the role of an assassin, for which she underwent rigorous training.

She says, “We were in Budapest for five weeks just to train for one action sequence. I loved all the training and background work involved in it. Actresses in India don’t get to do such stunts.”

She’s also working on her EP album and is enjoying writing and creating the album on her own in England. “It’s my own story, my narrative, my voice and my composition. While I enjoy being a playback singer, this is a very different feeling.”

Daddy’s little girl

Shruti took almost a year off to assess everything in her life and she doesn’t plan to take off for a very long time now. Her means of unwinding till then is to play with her cats, hang out with friends and spend time talking to her dad, Kamal Haasan.

“Everyone in my family is very  busy,  especially my dad, who is starting his political career. But I make sure that I find the time to talk to him as often as I can,” she says.
She has always admired him for his passion for things and to achieve his dreams. But their special bond stems from her dad always treating her as an adult.

She says, “His go-to dialogue for everything is ‘no pain, no gain’. Whenever I need some advice, this is what he says and it always works.”

Being basic

Shuttling between countries, she counts grocery shopping in Europe as among her favourite things to do.

“I am so grateful that my Indian fans recognise me when they see me on the streets of London. I enjoy taking pictures with them and connecting with them. But I also love standing in the line to bill my grocery,” she says laughing.

“I love the whole process of standing in the queue and scanning the items. In fact, I love shopping for garbage bags and toilet paper. I’m sure the people there think I 
am crazy but who cares!”

Staying positive

Shruti also loves being on social media. She doesn’t worry too much about the negative comments and chooses to focus on the good happening there.

She says, “Think about it this way — if you can accept positivity with open arms, you can neglect negativity with closed arms.”

One of her ways of embracing positivity is to go through some of the funny messages she gets from her fans.

Her favourite one so far goes like this: “You know Hindi language, Tamil language and Telugu language. But your best language is body language.” 

“I thought it was absolutely hilarious and so creative,” she says with a laugh.

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