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Being Anu Hasan

Anu Hasan at the city launch of her book. Photo: B. Jyoti Ramalingam  

You’re just a famous person’s niece. What does it mean?” asks Anuradha Chandrahasan. Inspite of the Hasan surname, her niche, says Anu, is one she’s carved for herself.

Actor, entrepreneur, television anchor, writer. And now, she’s an author too. Anu Hasan dons many hats, globe-trotting and juggling roles to do all that she wants to do. Her days in television, where she was brought into everyone’s living room, still makes her a recognisable face in this part of the world. And there’s a smile there, that doesn’t leave, whether it’s on or off-screen.

In Chennai to launch her first book, Sunny Side Up, the author is bubbling with energy. The book, a collection of her experiences and observations, where she learns to look at the sunny side of things, is meant to find resonance with a reader, so that they know they aren’t alone in their struggle. “We forget that we are the sum of many parts and just because we mess up one of them, doesn’t mean that the others don’t exist or are not important,” says Anu about the different subjects she’s focussed on in her book — family, friends, work, divorce and more. Juggling many things left her just two hours in a day to write her book, which took her a year-and-a-half to complete.

“My life has never been just media, it’s always had lots of other things,” says Anu, who heads South India Cine Creations and is a director in an IT company. She is auditioning for roles in the U.K. and is most excited about a new BBC television series, Cucumber, where she plays a pregnant Indian woman in the first episode. “It’s a role that was given to Anu and not to Anu Hasan,” she says proudly, revealing that she’s never been called in to audition for a role while working in the media industry in Chennai.

It was when Anu was working in Human Resources in Pune, right after she got her dual masters from BITS Pilani, that the title role in the 1995 film, Indira, was offered to her. At that point, she says, she didn’t want to act. However, when her cousin Suhasini Mani Ratnam told her that she was asking if she could act, rather than if she wanted to, it left Anu’s ego a little bruised and she promptly turned up in Chennai for the screen test. 

Post- Indira, she wanted to continue acting, but didn’t want to do conventional roles or any that involved sporting a mini skirt. “Producers at that point said they’ll think about it and get back to me; they are still thinking about it,” she says, screwing up her face comically. She says she did a whole series of films where she played the ‘akka’ character and laughs, saying that in a few years, she’ll probably start doing the ‘amma’ roles too. But for now she wants to do something different and is excited about her two upcoming Tamil movies —  Aakki where she plays a hockey coach and  Valla Desam in which she’ll be sharing screen space with Nassar after 25 years — which are slated for release later this year. 

Of all the things she’s done that’s kept her in the public eye, it’s playing the role of Rekha IPS that she enjoyed the most. “Children used to love it because Anu aunty used to wear a police uniform and beat up all the rowdies,” she says, excitedly. Bike chases, car chases and fight sequences, she loved all that she had to do for the role. “I had these stunt masters too, who used to make me do what yesteryear heroes used to do,” she says, lifting her imaginary collar and rolling up her sleeves to demonstrate.

For most people though, she’s most recognisable for her role as the host of the talk show, Koffee with Anu. “Having grown up in the company of celebrities, I was never in awe of them and was genuinely interested in them as people and that really worked.” The show made her a household name and people, she says, thought of her as ‘Namma veetu ponnu’ and would often come up to her, pinch her cheeks and put their arms around her. “I was very flattered with the kind of affection it brought me,” she says with a big smile. And despite all else she’s done, it’s her roles in television that she is fondly remembered for and all the affection she won with her screen presence, still remains.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 7:17:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/being-anu-hasan/article6818723.ece

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