Name to know: Akshara Haasan
She gave up on education at 16, only to head back to school on the sets of Shamitabh
While waiting outside an edit studio in Mumbai, with her “backpack and purple hair”, Akshara Haasan unknowingly bagged a role in director R Balki’s highly-anticipated, well-guarded feature Shamitabh. “That’s when he first noticed me. Later, at an event, he came up to me and narrated the synopsis of the film,” says the 23-year-old. “I assumed he wanted me on board as an assistant director, because that’s what I was doing at the time.” She found herself deeply moved by the story he’d written — she won’t give away any more than “it’s about the journey of two people tangled in an ego clash”, and the bordering-on-bizarre trailer doesn’t help either — even more so to find she was being trusted to perform the “quirky, confident” central character.
Haasan, who’d only just decided to stop hesitating and join the family profession (“Finally!” was mother Sarika’s reaction), found Shamitabh compensated for an experience she never had — going to college. “I dropped out of school in class 11. Education wasn’t for me,” she explains. When she landed on the sets, with an undercut that’s already found many takers, she was glad to be learning once again. From Balki’s patient, detailed answers to her many ‘whys’, from watching Dhanush go from quiet on-set to uninhibited on-camera, and from Amitabh Bachchan’s gentle “Can I help you?” on the rare off-day when she kept clocking retakes. Plus, she already had ample advice from the three actors at home — Sarika, Kamal and Shruti. Looks like the force is with this one.
Shamitabh releases on February 6