: Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Camera : P. Ganesh Babu
& Hemananth | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
|ANU HASAN INTERVIEW
Hasan needs no introduction. Forayed into filmdom through
Indira and wafted into our hearts as the pleasant host
through Koffee With Anu, (a successful and favorite
chat show for many in Vijay TV), she is a multifaceted
personality. Meet Anu Hasan, our guest for the week
in a freewheeling chat where she discusses television
shows, films, Kamal Hasan and a myriad subjects with
senior editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar.
Why you did not pursue serious acting despite tasting
success in Indira?
I have frequently been asked this question. My answer
is simple. Indira was a clean film and I enjoyed doing
it. After its success, producers have approached me
with various offers and I put forth these conditions-
I will not do heavy duty romantic scenes; I will not
wear skimpy costumes; I will not do heavy dance movements.
Hearing my conditions, all of them have gone back with
a reply – “We will think and get back”.
I think they are still thinking!
in films, you are seen doing secondary roles. How do
you choose your films?
Let me be honest! I don’t give serious thought
to these things now. When heroines themselves don’t
get any hardcore important roles, it is a rarity for
me to get such offers. So I just see if there is scope
for performance at least in a single scene. That’s
how Aadhavan happened. Even if it’s a single scene,
it should be challenging. Then I look for something
different. Last year, I accepted films because I was
dying in them. I died in three films due to acid attack,
car accident and bomb explosion. You can do in films
that what you cannot do in real life. It is my way of
looking at it in a lighter vein. On a serious note I
look for the director, the team and my comfort levels
with them. On the whole, life must be fun and enjoyable.
I have reached a stage where I don’t have to do
anything. Not that I was forced to do anything at any
point of time. Generally, if I like something I will
do otherwise I will not. In short, I have a flippant
attitude towards work!
you debuted in films, your TV personality has over shadowed
your film personality. How do you feel about this?
It is true and I am glad that I got the opportunity
to do Koffee with Anu (KWA) because its reach is phenomenal.
When you analyze, television has a wider and better
reach than films. And many film stars who have entered
this domain find themselves being addressed by their
serial name rather than their real ones. Thankfully
for me, in KWA, I am only Anu and audiences have accepted
me as I am. It would have been unfortunate, if they
had not accepted me because I don’t know to be
anything but me. People like KWA and I have been recognized.
I am lucky and thank goodness!
do you attribute KWA’s success to?
I have answered this question many times and every time
when I answer this, its importance seems to be growing
bigger and bigger. The talk show KWA is not about Anu
but about her guests who are the stars of the show.
I have neither desired nor would desire (in future)
to overshadow my guests or would ever suggest that I
am better than them. The simple reason, they have accomplished
far more than I have done in all my life time. So first
thing is I respect what they have achieved but I continue
to treat them like normal individuals. I look at their
likes, dislikes, their priorities etc and talk about
that. They may be a great vidwan or an upcoming artist;
I respect them as human beings. Generally people like
to talk and I believe in letting them talk. KWA is not
scripted though I have a rough script in my mind. But
the moment I realize that my guests are about to thaw
and share something, I let that take an upper hand.
As far as KWA goes, they are all candid shots and there
is no take and retake. It is just a conversation in
front of a camera which is very real. When the guests
realize we are letting them talk what they have in mind,
a casual air drifts in and perhaps that’s the
reason for the natural mood to the show and its success.
show. That’s how I graduated from on TV segment
to guest to host in KWA. I told them that glamour and
looking hot is not my forte and they also told me to
be just myself and do what I wanted. The opportunity
to host the show itself was an unforgettable one. I
have done the show for three years and in this period
I have met a wide variety of people like Mayilsamy Annadurai
(Chandrayaan), Muthiah Muralidharan, Viswanathan Anand,
Ila Ganesan and lot of such people. Just tell me, where
would anybody get such an opportunity to meet people
not only from the film field but also from other fields?
A chance for a relaxed chat for two hours! What was
very unpredictable for KWA was I used to get a common
feedback every time that it was not at all like an interview.
And it is not an interview because I am not asking you
questions and I am only trying to understand you. My
ignorance is my advantage as I don’t know things
but I am desirous to know something. In this process,
some of them have made me laugh while some anecdotes
have made me cry. James Vasanthan’s fight with
his mom just before her death and Aachi Manorama’s
poverty ridden childhood are a few instances which have
brought tears to me. In a similar vein, Jayaram sir
made me laugh with the comic incidents during his drama
days. I enjoy every moment in KWA show which has lot
of unpredictable moments and plenty of forgettable moments.
unforgettable incident in KWA?
KWA itself is unforgettable.
It is very amusing to recall how I got the opportunity
to host the show. When Suchi was doing the show,
I was first called to feature in the on TV segment
for director Priya (Kanda Naal Mudal) who happens
to be a very good friend of mine. When they
heard me talk, they wondered if I could come
as a guest along with Suhasini Akka. I was ok
with the idea if akka was free. After three
days when I got the call from Vijay TV, I was
surprised to hear them host the
Glamour and looking hot is not
How do you
encounter starry tantrums?
What are starry tantrums? They may walk out refusing
to shoot due to extraneous issues and I am not a contributing
factor. Hence I can’t do much. The second type
is when guests come with a pre conceived notion that
I am going to put them in a dicey situation and question.
Hence they would be a little tight, withdrawn and defensive.
When I sense this, I will re-assure in non-verbal communication
that I am not going to put them in tight spot and that
my priority is only to showcase my guests as beautifully
as possible. I would keep giving signals to them that
I am keen to portray them in the best possible light.
This invariably works. Besides this, there are people
who feel that they are best suited to be in my place
in which case I cannot much help. They may be correct
but nothing can be done as I am here to do my job whether
they like it or not. I will try to reassure them and
I have succeeded in most instances. Despite all this,
if things don’t work out, I am not bothered. There
were occasions when things have gone out of control
but I pride myself to be a professional and I have never
let those things affect me when I am in front of the
camera. There were around 4-5 such incidents just before
the shoot which have affected me but you can never make
that out on my face on screen. That’s the challenge
that I keep giving to myself. This is how I handle tantrums
but I have been lucky that most of these things have
never been directed at me. I may have acted as a cover
up for some one else’s mistakes.
tailoring job. I have three boxes (virtual), one has
the research info, the other has my rough script and
the third one has the content that the guests speak.
I take a few from each box, entwine, coalesce and present
it smoothly. In short, it is a cut, copy, paste tailoring
job that I do in KWA.
KWA is like a tailoring job
kind of homework you do for KWA?
Lots of people do homework for KWA. We have a
group and the direction team will talk to the
guests and research on the personality. I also
surf the net to know about them. As I have friends
in the industry, I call them to find some information.
I call up Kamal sir, Mani sir or Suhasini and
ask them for some interesting incidents if they
have worked with them. Actually KWA is like a
you been forced to ask questions that you would not
There has never been a situation like this. Usually,
I am the one who asks questions in KWA and it is completely
under my control. Rapid wire round questions are decided
by direction team and if I don’t find them offensive,
I will go ahead. If I do find them odious, I refuse
to ask them because rapid wire round questions can tease
you a bit, can make you think a while and it can be
tough but it should never hurt an individual. That’s
what I believe in.
telling Vijay TV that I am interested in cooking and
food that I want to do a cookery show for some other
TV to ensure there is no conflict of interest. But they
insisted I do the show for them and that’s how
the show was born. Of course, now we have wound that
up. The strategy was to blend the popularity of the
host of KWA with a new show and it worked. I have only
been getting positive feedback in the forum for this
show. I also loved it and unfortunately we have wound
did ‘En Samayal Araiyil’ happen?
I love food and cooking.
I also love world cuisine. I travel quite frequently
and I when I go out of country, I don’t
seek thayir saadam or sambar saadam. Whatever
is available there, I eat and I have absolutely
no restrictions on food. I eat anything that
floats, crawls, flies, walks... And so I have
come across very interesting world recipes.
On a very casual chat, I was
I love food
may excel in taste. Also I am not a very big fan of
rice unless it is biriyani. I cannot resist biriyani.
I like anything that is non rice base, multigrain bread,
just chicken, fish, prawn, sea food, soups etc.
I cannot resist biriyani
is your favorite cuisine?
I love continental cuisine. I feel it lends itself
very well to presentations. For instance when
you take a chicken dish, we marinate and grill
it and keep sautéed vegetable with a little
herb on this side, mashed potato on other side
with sauce and with a twig of parsley on top.
It looks so beautiful when arranged thus. I like
to play around with the decorations in food items.
This feature is a bit difficult in sambar saadam
What is your
take on reality shows?
Reality shows! How real are they? First of all, I would
like to state that the whole world is a stage and when
people come on reality shows, they even become better
actors. They know that they are performing for the camera.
Pain becomes exaggerated, fear becomes exaggerated and
happiness becomes exaggerated. I feel there is very
little reality in reality shows. And even in west, people
are getting tired of reality shows. But reality shows
are extremely popular and everybody can be in it. In
case I participate in such shows, my family and friends
would be naturally happy to see me on TV. Otherwise,
there is a big question mark on how creative or real,
reality shows are.
who gets completely involved in and I don’t like
and don’t know to do any thing on a superficial
level. However, I also felt that a sense of pretense
started creeping into the participants slowly. I refuse
to accept anything pretentious and falseness and the
moment I realize they are acting, I would immediately
stop. I used to question and make them realize that
they are not being honest. That’s the reason many
viewers felt that there was honesty in the show. Unfortunately
the timings of the shoot were crazy. When the shoot
was supposed to start at 2 PM, I was there punctually
but the participants would come late, we would start
the shoot at 6 PM, there would be some problems and
we would go on till next morning 10. It was very difficult
for me to shoot for such long hours. And more so, I
was so worried for the participants who were not trained
to do such stunts. That’s why I just did one season
started off anu alavaum bayamillai and did season
1. I was so anxious for the participants even
if they weren’t because I am trained in
stunts. I know the little small tricks and nuances
to protect someone during such activities and
I was constantly giving cautionary directions
to participants. As a result Anu alavum bayamillai
was very stressful for me. I am a person
Anu alavum bayamillai was very
stressful for me
in a smart police uniform from a bolero which says Police
and I see these three guys running for their life the
moment they caught sight of me. It was so hilarious
and the entire production unit was delighted.
Rekha IPS was a dream role
Whatever people may say, I love the police force
and I have many police friends. Rekha IPS was
a dream role and I was thrilled to wear the police
costume. I have many amusing incidents to share
with. We were shooting at ECR outside a toddy
shop. The scene required me to chase the criminal
who is sitting in the shop and I have to duck
under a pole and then run behind him. Everything
was set up and I was alighting
Another day while we were shooting in a bungalow in
ECR, there was a two hour gap and I sought permission
to go to a nearby café and read a book in the
free time. As I was walking to the café, three
guys who were playing cards had sprinted for their life
when they spotted me. Actually I had not noticed this
and my assistant directors had a hearty laugh at this
On a different note I was almost at the receiving end
one day when I had just walked out with the police uniform.
The rule is that one should remove the stars from the
police uniform before you go out (while acting) and
I had of course followed it. A police man stopped and
questioned me and I was almost shivering like the thugs
who ran upon seeing me.
So it was fun and exciting shooting for Rekha IPS. I
had many stunt sequences, car and bike chases.
Our stuntmen are generally strong but they cannot run
while I am very good at sprinting. There was another
scene in Rekha IPS where stuntmen should chase me. I
was running and they were busy panting behind me asking
me to slow down. Director cut the scene and chided them
saying that they were the one who were supposed to run
and catch me. I had a whale of a time doing the serial
and I was my fittest best. My work out routines were
tough then. Now I am in a relaxed mode expanding sideways
and when the need comes, I shall contract.
are a multifaceted personality but what do you
like the most?
like fitness. They say that you get addicted
to fitness. I love working out. People ask me
if I exercise to maintain a slim figure. Let
us admit I cannot be slim and I am large built.
I work out to eat what I want. I am fond of
trekking and open air. I find Kalari as an art
form rather than a martial art form. In fact
people have questioned me if I learned Kalari
to thrash people. It is not so. I enjoy learning
diverse things and new experiences. I love to
try out and see what I can do and what I cannot.
That’s about it and I am not violent unless
of course I am provoked.
I work out to eat what I want
to the legendary Kamal’s family and questions
associated with it are bound to crop up. Do you get
angry with them?
Not only for me, but for every actor such questions
are bound to come up. People have asked me if I would
talk to my chittappa and then I ask them back if they
would talk to their chittappa and the answer would be
obvious. People are curious to find legends like Kamal,
Mani Rathnam and stars like Suhasini in a familial set
up. It is fine. Another frequent question is –
would I be successful if I were born in a family other
than Hasan’s? I would say –yes. I am in
media because I am born in Hasan family. I put in so
much of effort because I am Anu. If not in media, I
would have put much effort in Kalari or some other field.
My personality is such that I put in my best. I don’t
get irritated or irked by such questions because in
people’s perspective they are all icons. For them
it is a matter of awe that I am close to such an icon.
How do you
feel about acting as mom to your own chittappa (uncle)?
It is a bit funny. In our family we all have acted in
all possible roles. My dad has acted as Kamal’s
son, my cousin brother has acted as Kamal’s grandson
and I have acted as his mom. Actually, the director
(of aalavandan) opined that Kamal and I have resemblance
(which I am not sure) and he wanted me to play his mom’s
role. The funny side was I have to address him as vaada.
I took it in my stride. There was a scene in which the
animal Kamal-Abhay would fall from third floor and blood
would ooze from his mouth and I needed to say my dialogues.
The moment I saw blood and the animal like sound from
Kamal, I was paralyzed because I only saw the animal
and not my uncle. But I was brought to my senses by
Kamal who grunted – “speak your dialogues”.
I have known him for so long but despite that the actor
in him overtook the real personality and had the power
to scare me. It was such a wonderful experience attempting
to act alongside a legend like him.
are a second generation actor from Kamal’s family.
Do you feel there is a cultural divide between you and
the previous gen and the next gen (Shruti Hasan)?
In our family me, Suhasini and Shruthi are all cousins
but we all have different mindset even though the generation
differences are not too much. Hasini is very forward
but still conventional; I am forward but slightly unconventional
whereas Shruthi is completely forward and unconventional.
Youngsters these days are like that. Their approach
to work is very professional and at the same time they
are very tough and clear. They know to talk about money
matters to production team and about scenes with the
director. As regards me, sometimes I will do a movie
for free and sometimes I will demand lots of money because
I am crazy. But Hasini is a complete professional as
she is in the industry for a long time and she has incredible
knowledge about films. As far as musical knowledge is
concerned Shruthi is very good. These are the differences
I see and personality wise, we are all different.
Shruthi is very smart
you advise Shruthi or Akshara?
Our family is a non-involved family. We don’t
advise each other. My dad, periappa and chittappa
don’t advise me. Hasini will not advise
unless solicited. If I seek advice from my dad,
he would definitely be forthcoming but not unsolicited.
Similarly, if Shruthi asks me, I would help her
but I feel Shruthi is very smart and I am very
impressed by the way she handles her career. Hence
I don’t think she needs my advice as she
is doing very well on her own.
Why have you
not seriously pursued your singing career despite being
I believe in “seivana thirunda sei”. (Whatever
you do, do it properly). One needs to be trained well
to take up professional singing. The music directors
who come to KWA say that I sing well and I also assure
them that I would send my music CD but I just leave
it at that. Perhaps, one of these days I will get over
my inertia and will send my sample to someone. But even
for that I need to get trained. I am not that good right
is your critic?
am my best and worst critic. I believe in not
taking too seriously what outsiders say of me.
For example, we generally get two divergent
opinions about the same photograph or same show.
For instance, for a recent commercial of mine,
I got diametrically opposite reviews about my
costumes, make up and look. One side raved while
the other side simply thrashed it. So I just
ignore that and I need to satisfy myself. Compliments
don’t buoy me up. Of course I like them
but I move on to the next job. If there are
some corrections that can be done, I would do
that. Otherwise, I just go on. I don’t
pay much attention to external critics and I
look at it from within myself.
I am my best and worst critic
you have won?
I have not got that many awards. I got the best supporting
actor award for Run and Mylapore Fine Arts Academy award
for television. And of course Kalaimaamani award which
is the bewildering thing for me. I should have been
blessed to even set foot on the stage which has been
walked by such doyens. I feel that the award is basically
given to me to inspire and help me scale greater heights
by the crew. She has no knowledge about cinema and all
that she should say was – yenpaa. And every time
her timing was wrong and film was rolling. If it would
have been for any other director, he would have lost
his cool and asked for an immediate replacement. But
Jeeva being Jeeva came close to the old lady, put her
at ease and reassured her that it is ok for her to say
her lines whenever she pleases. The next take was ok.
Jeeva knows how to handle people. He is a wonderful
person to work with. Since he was also a cinematographer,
he was able to bring out the feelings visually very
well. It is a loss and I feel sad that he is no more
Jeeva knows how to handle
dhoom experience with Jeeva…
You asked me how I choose my projects and I said
I look for the director. In this context, I would
like to say something about Jeeva. I agreed to
do that project only for Jeeva sir. He was such
a sweet man. He told me that it is only a small
role and I just agreed. That’s about it.
I would like to site a small instance about his
working style. We were shooting in the village
and there is this old lady from the village who