Shruti Haasan is in festive mode with two big releases, and clears the air on walking out of NTR's film. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo listens in

There's a lot happening on Shruti Haasan's front. She flew in for the audio launch of Dil Raju's production Oh My Friend and even before she left to Mumbai to record a song for her private music album came the reports of her walking out of NTR's film. “I couldn't juggle my dates. Honestly, there was no other reason for me to opt out of the film,” she says, talking to Cinema Plus on a balmy afternoon.

The singer/actress is not new to the heady mix of excitement and nervousness ahead of a big release — she's gone through it for her Hindi debut Luck and Telugu debut Anaganaga O Dheerudu. This time, the acid test is in Tamil Nadu ahead of her debut vehicle 7aum Arivu (to be released simultaneously in Telugu as 7th Sense).

Shruti is the connecting link between two characters played by Suriya — Buddhist monk Bodhidharman in the 5th century and the contemporary character. Shruti is a young scientist. “Murugadoss always has strong characters for the women in his films. He narrated the story, briefed me about my character and told me that he wanted the girl to be look good and intelligent. I asked him ‘How do I look intelligent',” laughs Shruti, recalling her meeting with the ace director. “He told me to just go with the flow of the screenplay. It's a complex character with many layers. It's not your uni-dimensional bubbly heroine,” she adds. Her character has the task of explaining scientific terms to the audience in a simple manner.

“The Tamil used in the film is not colloquial. Only one in a 100 would understand if I try to explain genetics, DNA, mitochondria and other terms in Tamil. I must admit I am not as fluent as my dad is in Tamil,” she says. She explains how her job was made easier with Murugadoss and Suriya to help her out. “I just had to do my homework and show up at work the next day.” She regrets not being able to dub the lines herself for the Telugu version. “There are a lot of dialogues in the film and I just didn't have enough time to dub in Telugu,” she says.

Three weeks after 7th Sense, Oh My Friend will arrive. Her first in Telugu, the much-hyped Walt Disney production Anaganaga O Dheerudu, didn't bring cheer to the box office.

She stays politically correct when she reflects, “Of course, who wouldn't want good numbers at the box office? Having said that, I only look back at a film to see if I've given it my best. Nothing else is in my control. I am happy that my work was appreciated in Anaganaga…”

She describes Oh My Friend as a fun film. “It's a beautiful film and people can relate to my character.” She's been fiercely independent but has always kept her private life away from the public eye.

This time is no different. She won't react to reports of her supposed split with Siddharth, but says, “I am glad we worked together in two films. Working with him was a delight as I got to learn so much.”

This festival is special. “I've never been a stickler to festivals. I am not into firecrackers but love sweets. 7th Sense is the best sweet this season for me,” she signs off.

Musically yours

As a child, she sang Potri Paadadi Penne for Kamal Haasan's Thevar Magan (later remade as Viraasat in Hindi). But the professional interest in music came in only in high school, she tells us. “I learnt music by default. In ICSC schools, one has the option of switching subjects. I was awful in Math and scored 3/100. My mom was petrified if I will clear my exams. I switched to studying music and by the time I reached high school, I knew I wanted to specialise in it. I did contemplate studying psychology. Like any other teen, I too didn't know which subject to choose. Since I loved music, I decided to study audio engineering,” she says. Talks of her singing the Tamil version of Munni Badnam Hui are untrue, she clarifies. “Right now I am working on my own album. I am wrapping up my Tamil film, 3, directed by Aishwarya Dhanush, and there's Pawan Kalyan's Gabbar Singh,” she says.