Indian Actress and Singer Shruti Hasaan Reveals Her Thoughts on Fame and Art
Shruti Haasan already has 15 million Instagram followers as a well-known actor in India but she’s unmistakably more at ease in her heavy metal tee and jeans than the usual Bollywood accoutrements. Maybe because she hails from a famous acting family (Kamal Haasan and Sarika Thakur are her parents), but Shruti is more interested in writing her next song than memorizing the next script.
“As a teenager, it was all about bands and writing my own music and playing sweaty small gigs and really loving that life. I come from a family of actors, but I’d never planned to act to be completely honest. Cinema found me and I kind of stayed. It was never one of my main passions or part of my life goals in any way. Having said that, it’s probably the best twist in the plot of my life, which has given me so much.”
As well as being acting royalty, her parents are big rock music
fans and she grew up with the sounds of Dylan, The Beatles, and The Who ringing in her house. Although she initially trained in Indian classical music, it was listening to and performing English-language rock n roll that fired her passion the most. When she was 19, she moved to LA to study vocals and songwriting at the Musicians Institute. Upon arrival, she was stoked to find that Jeff Buckley had attended the same school, at the same age. Shruti cites artists like Tori Amos and Trent Reznor as major influences from when she was younger. But not as much as metal, notably the mighty Iron Maiden: “I just loved Bruce Dickinson’s voice when I first heard it,” she says. “I was obsessed with his vibrato and the harmonized guitars. Of course, over time I’ve listened to a lot of music but I always come back to my love for super heavy metal — Meshuggah is my all-time favorite band.”
Spending her life between India, London and the USA, Shruti’s live performances have none of the excesses of say, your average Bollywood flick. She performs as a solo artist, in regulation black clothing and a stripped-back show. She’s not worried about playing smaller venues while her films garner an audience of millions. “Fame can be dangerous because it makes you unintentionally complacent,” she explains.
“I never lean on that for solace in any way. Art is art and it has to connect with people. That’s the connection I enjoy the most. So, it’s almost better to take my music to an audience with no pre-conceived notions. I’m happy to share my music anywhere. When you can make someone feel, what they’ve been wanting to feel but can’t articulate, with your music, that’s a lot of fun.”