“Nobody believes me, but I am not doing Ponniyin Selvan,” states Aditi Rao Hydari as we begin our interaction about the Mani Ratnam film in which she is rumoured to have been cast. Then again, one knows Aditi’s proximity to Mani Ratnam.
“He is like a parent,” she says even as she reiterates that she’s not doing the film of the Roja-maker. “As of now, I am still not doing Ponniyin Selvan.”
Ironical, if one were to think that the only reason the actress actually wanted to enter movies was because of Mani Ratnam.
A ten-year-old Aditi watched Mani Ratnam’s 1995-film Bombay, and her life changed. “I just wanted to run into the screen and become Manisha Koirala,” she recounts. “I had never seen anything so beautiful. It was not a film for children but then I was so taken by that film. I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I decided that I want to be a Mani Ratnam heroine and that was my one-point agenda.” The difficult part was on how she would communicate her agenda. “In my family, they gave me a lot of freedom and we never misused it. But I didn’t have the THING to tell anyone at my home that this is what I wanted to do. I wondered how I will do it and how I will get a toe into the industry. But when you are young and you wish with a very pure heart, it happens,” she beams.
The universe did conspire to make sure that exactly twenty-one years later Aditi was playing Dr Leela Abraham in the 2017-Mani-Ratnam directorial Katru Veliyadai and later in the 2018-Mani Ratnam film, Chekka Chivandha Vaanam.
“It was worth it and it made me believe in dreams. Cinema is an artistic field and I want to work with people I respect and admire. I want to work with people who inspire me and who I can learn from. That is the intention,” she rattles off at one go.
All the glory awaiting her
Aditi, who had a slew of releases during the lockdown in various languages — Psycho in Tamil, Sufiyum Sujatayum in Malayalam, V in Telugu and The Girl On the Train in Hindi — is set to have four more back-to-back releases.
“I have Ajeeb Dastaans which first released out on an OTT, followed by Sardar Ka Grandson. Then there is Hey Sinamika and Mahasamudram in the theatres,” she confirms.
Incidentally, the actress shot opposite John Abraham for ten days for the film Sardar Ka Grandson. “It [the scenes] is very nice and very important part of the film. I loved the story when I heard it and I hope people like it, too, though it is a small role. I have done quite a few small roles like that, in Padmaavat for instance. I really feel that entering someone’s heart can happen in twenty minutes or two hours. I try and just look at the content and just the way it makes me feel. Then I do not feel afraid of taking up a role like that,” says Aditi.
Aditi is someone who often has a great rapport with her co-stars. But we recently found that her Hey Sinamika co-star Dulquer Salman [DQ] often pulls her leg, posting pictures of her crying and asking her if she has forgotten her dialogues again.
“DQ is always pulling my leg. Brinda Master (the director) and DQ say that I am too earnest and if I do not do anything properly, it makes me upset and I start crying. So they are basically teasing me because one day I made a mistake and I was really angry at myself and the shift was getting over and I was crying and then DQ was taking photos of me. But DQ is my buddy and he really teases me a lot, but he is excused,” she says with a chuckle.
Realising her soaring dreams
Aditi also tells us that she is additionally working hard on her Tamil. “I won’t say that I am perfect. I don’t sound like a local, so let’s say that. I really try very hard. I have not come to a stage where I can do my own dubbing, but I say every dialogue on the set and I never miss a dialogue like out of respect to my writer, my co-star and my director,” she says.
As our conversations continue, we remind the actress that she is working across all industries now. How does she feel about it? “I am so happy when you say that. I always wanted to work like that. As a kid, I heard about Sri[devi] ma’am and the kind of work they’ve done. I know I will not be able to do even a drop of what she has done. But it inspires me and I want to work like that. Before we sign off, we ask the actress what is that one thing about her that we don’t know. “Well, I have dimples on my shoulders. When I had started off, photographers used to ask me about them. Now they know about it. My mother tells me, ‘God put dimples on your cheeks and they fell on your shoulders,’” says Aditi with a laugh.