Aditi Rao Hydari: Sure footed and on the rise
The buzz in the industry is all about Aditi Rao Hydari, who dazzled in Kaatru Veliyidai
and is set to take on a larger stage with Padmavati
Celebrities are hardly alien to controversies. Ultimately, it is the manner in which they deal with things that gets our attention. Aditi Rao Hydari gets some respect off the top for knowing how to hold her own, especially in the online space.
In the wake of the recent Padmavati controversy, a Twitter troll went as far as to attack her with the words: “Brainwashed love jihadi victim”. But Aditi isn't one to play the victim card or buckle down. She replied with some spunk:
It's not about religions or cultures or language or geography or gender... it's about small minded people who create hate and devide... and we can all choose not to be those people regardless of our names... #PeaceOut https://t.co/HpT0RcD8fy— Aditi Rao Hydari (@aditiraohydari) November 16, 2017
A meteoric ascent
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus, Padmavati, might have been in the eye of the storm following outrage from various religious and political quarters, but that has not dampened Aditi’s spirit. When we asked the 31-year-old actor, who plays a crucial role in Bhansali’s epic (Mehrunissa, Alauddin Khilji's wife), she politely declined to speak about it.
But she did make one thing clear: she will not tolerate brickbats from faceless online abusers.
Social media woes aside, the last couple of months have witnessed a steady rise for Aditi, as she consolidates her position not only in Bollywood, but in Southern cinema as well.
For Aditi, it was an actor’s dream to work with auteurs such as Mani Ratnam and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. She gathered many accolades, including an Asiavision Movie Award for Best Actress Tamil, for her portrayal of Doctor Leela Abraham in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai opposite Karthi, and then bagged an important role opposite Ranveer Singh in Bhansali’s Padmavati.
Apart from that, in the span of a couple of months, she shared screen space with Sanjay Dutt in Bhoomi, and with Farhan Akhtar in Wazir. A truly cosmopolitan actor, and a favourite with fashion designers who want her as their showstopper, Aditi also recently took time off to address the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 on ‘The future of cinema’. With over 1.8 million followers on Instagram, and the all-important skill of fending off online trolls, Aditi has clearly emerged as the girl of the moment.
The micro and macro of it
The names of Mani Ratnam and Bhansali dominate our conversation about Aditi's films, and she speaks of many a memorable moment with both filmmakers. “You learn every single day when you are on the set with such big directors,” she says. “I was like a sponge absorbing everything from what they said, be it a phrase or an experience. Both of them mentor, and nurture you.”
Aditi explains that both Mani Ratman and Bhansali had their own ways of challenging her as an actor. “And honestly, I love challenges!” she chimes. “I am lucky to have worked with them both back to back. It is such an adrenaline rush.” She goes on to explain the fine line between the two director’s approaches: “Both are passionate filmmakers, and both come from a very different way of approaching cinema — at times I joke and say that if Mani Ratnam is microeconomics, then Sanjay Leela Bhansali is macroeconomics.”
Aditi has come a long way in short time. Even before she went to study at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi, she made her debut in the 2006 Malayalam film, Prajapathi, opposite Mammootty. And she certainly left a mark as the bold and feisty Shanti in Sudhir Mishra’s 2009 film, Yeh Saali Zindagi, which she agrees was a game changer for her. “After completing my studies, I decided to move to Mumbai and that’s when Yeh Saali Zindagi happened. It got me recognition as an actor, an award, and an Amul hoarding!” she exclaims.
However, the going wasn’t entirely easy. “I didn’t really have backing in the world of films, but I think I have been able to do it my way,” exults Aditi, who’s also an accomplished dancer, having trained with the legendary Bharatanatyam exponent and Padma Shri awardee Leela Samson, the former chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi.
Her initial stints were supporting roles in big films like Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, to well-fleshed out ones like in Bejoy Nambiar’s crime thriller Wazir. Critics and audiences alike appreciated her portrayal of Ruhana in the latter, where she managed to hold her own, despite sharing screen space with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar. To top it all, Kaatru Veliyidai cemented her position in Southern cinema. Aditi had well and truly arrived — in style.
No dull T-Town girl
A true-blue fashionista, Aditi has been defining the tenets of boho-chic, and was recently even recognised by an international magazine as one of the most stylish ladies in the country. She also graced the ramp for the designers Gaurav Gupta and Jayanti Reddy. Clearly, she's not all work and no play. So what’s she like when the cameras aren’t rolling? “I sing, dance and do a lot of yoga. I am constantly touching my nose to my knees, and busy doing all sorts of mad things. You know, most people don’t know that there’s a goofy side to me,” says Aditi, with a giggle.
High up on her travel bucket list, meanwhile, is a visit to South America. “I also want to travel more in Europe, and strangely, I have never been to Berlin.”