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‘Kadaram Kondan’ is my shot at redemption: Akshara Haasan

Akshara with father Kamal Haasan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A “slight perfectionist” is how Akshara Haasan describes herself.

It shows as she sits down to have a conversation with a handful of journalists, and begins with an apology.

“I will try to speak in Tamil as much as I can. But Bombay la iruntha naala practice pochu. Konjam mannichidunga,” (Because I live in Bombay, I’ve lost touch with conversational Tamil. Please bear with me) she says.

For the next 40 odd minutes, the actor’s exchanges are punctuated largely by the words — “aamanga” (yes) and “mattum” (she uses this often as a filler word in her sentences). And throughout it all, she responds to every query — no matter how irrelevant to the occasion it be (try cooking skills, her marriage, her sister Shruti Haasan’s marriage and her father Kamal Haasan’s political interests) — with a youthful innocence that has come to be associated with her personality.

A tough start

The actor, 27, is back in a Tamil film after a two-year gap with the Vikram-starrer, Kadaram Kondan.

Directed by Rajesh M Selva, the film is produced by Raaj Kamal Films International, the production company owned by her father Kamal Haasan.

Bitter Reality
  • Akshara was the target of a cyber crime incident in November 2018. The experience shook her, but it also helped her “grow as a person”. Of her experience, she says, “Life is full of challenges. It is up to you whether you take it in your stride or notThings will get thrown in your face and the ugliest truth comes out. But can you face it, and still be able to stand strong is the question.”

Akshara, whose character in the film is named Athira, cannot hide her excitement on being able to play the role of a pregnant woman a second time in her four film-old career. Because the first time it happened (in the Bollywood film Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana), let’s say she didn’t leave the best of impressions.

“I did a very bad job,” she laughs. “I wasn’t happy playing the character earlier. This (Kadaram Kondan) is my opportunity at redemption,” she adds.

This time, Akshara says she reached out to her mother, actor Sarika, for advice. “Mom was very patient and explained the smaller details I needed to look out for. Like how a pregnant woman walks or sits. I practised daily for two hours with towels tied around my waist,” she says, adding that she has even done “proper stunts with the pregnant belly” for Kadaram Kondan. “I have been asking for years to do an action film like this. If I get more such films, I’d be happy.”

Abi Hassan and Akshara in a still from Kadaram Kondan

Abi Hassan and Akshara in a still from Kadaram Kondan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Her first Tamil film, the Ajith Kumar-starrer Vivekam, was not devoid of action scenes. It did, however, tank at the box office. Akshara remarks that it was not the kind of start she’d hoped for in the Tamil industry.

With the benefit of hindsight, would she have opted for another film? “Umm... I can’t change it now. I still wouldn’t change it though I knew people were not too happy with Vivekam. But I don’t regret it. Vivekam still fetched me recognition and respect from people that I never expected. Yes, it was a disappointment, and I do sometimes wish that I could have done this or that (a more successful) film instead. I hope I’m making up for it with Kadaram Kondan,” she says.

The right fit

The more she responds with an “aamanga” and thinks for a fraction of a second before belting out a carefully phrased sentence in Tamil, the message Akshara intends to send becomes evident. That she is no pushover when it comes to speaking the local language.

“There are a lot of things that people like me for. But the one thing they all note is... ‘Ha! if only her Tamil was better’,” she says. That opinion may change once the new movie is out on July 19 because the actor has dubbed for her character in the Tamil version.

Akshara Haasan

Akshara Haasan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

Yet, despite these efforts, Akshara has struggled to land more opportunities in Hindi and Tamil films.

Her personal image doesn’t seem to be helping. “People tend to think ‘Oh, she is such a chamathu kutty’ (smart kid). But I can’t prove my versatility as an actor if directors don’t give me a chance to do a role that is unlike me and is far away from my personality,” she says.

She adds, however, that she is not willing to compromise on basic tenets for roles in films. Is the director able to visualise her playing the character she’s been offered? It is why she turned down Mani Ratnam’s offer to debut with a lead role in Kadal (2013). Instead, she opted for Shamitabh (2015).

“Because the character should never be compromised upon, and the script ought to be respected,” says the actor, who adds that her big dream is to eventually turn a director herself.

As for her dream role? It “would be to play his (Kamal) daughter on screen.”

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 9:28:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/kadaram-kondan-is-my-shot-at-redemption-akshara-haasan/article28305405.ece

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