'Working with Mani Ratnam is life-changing in many ways': Aditi Rao Hydari
Aditi Rao Hydari has done about 23 films so far and her work spans five different languages. Currently at her residence in Hyderabad because of the pandemic, the actor can claim to be one of a few who can call any one of many states her home. In a chat arranged as part of Time Pass, a series of webinars organised by The New Indian Express group, Aditi Rao Hydari shared her experience of working in multiple film industries with senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai and the Entertainment Editor of TNIE, Sudhir Srinivasan.
The conversation kicked off with Aditi speaking on her experience of working with Mani Ratnam in two films and how it has changed her as an actor and a person. Aditi said, "It is life-changing in many ways. He is a mentor figure to me. Working with him is addictive. You end up craving for the high that you get while working with him."
When asked to expand on the lessons she has learnt by working with filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mani Ratnam, and Mysskin, she said, "With films of such directors, there is no hierarchy on the sets. You are coming into the team because you are there to do a particular task. It is about what the film or the scene requires and not about you outwitting others. There is infectious energy when everyone works towards one goal."
When asked if it's a conscious decision to shift her focus to cinema in the South, she said, "Its a combination of many things. I may have wanted to be a pan-Indian actor but you have to get those opportunities. Actually, after Kaatru Veliyidai, I didn't get any work in the South. It happened only after my second film with Mani Ratnam (Chekka Chivantha Vaanam). I didn't plan on this. Having said that, I am dying to do a good Hindi film because there is this comfort I have with the language."
Aditi shared that she doesn't like categorising films as art and mainstream. "There are films made for a larger audience, and films made for a niche audience. I would want to do both. In fact, I love 'massy' movies, but I don't always get them offered to me. Directors think they should come to me with a women-centric film, but I would love to be part of a commercial film."
Be it Kaatru Veliyidai or Psycho, her roles have been complex. She said, "As an actor, the only thing I respond to in a story is how it makes me feel. It would be difficult for me to play a character without layers. To me, when you watch a film, you should go out with a conflicting view or be satisfied. I want the director or the character to create such feeling. KV's Leela is one of those characters."
For Aditi, this lockdown has been a time of reflection. When asked if she has thought about the privilege she enjoys, the actress said, "Absolutely! I am grateful for what I have, have had, and will have. Sometimes, when I worry, I tell myself 'what's wrong with you. You have everything'. But I think sometimes, you have to do something more than just be grateful. You have to put in the money, effort, and connect people of resources to those who are in need."
Aditi Rao Hydari will next be seen in the Malayalam film, Sufiyum Sujathayum, that will soon be released on Prime.