I would like to do every film with Mani Sir: Aditi Rao Hydari
The actor talks about what it is like to have bagged her second Mani Ratnam film in a row
Aditi Rao Hydari, who was recently in the city for an event, says she loves Chennai. "It is the first time after Kaatru Veliyidai that I am in the city. The Tamil audience have showered their love and have been nothing short of amazing to me. Chennai audiences are so special." It isn't too well known that before she made her debut in Hindi cinema and became a celebrity, she did a Tamil film called Sringaram in 2007. "To be honest, I didn't quite think of it as an entry into cinema. I was studying and had my exams and when the story was narrated to me, I wanted to give it a shot because the idea of doing a film felt exciting," she says. "My mother made me promise that I wouldn't give up on my education. The script was based on a danseuse and the devdasi community and given I was raised in an atmosphere of dance, I was naturally attracted. The film was actually part of somebody's research work. I've always been instinctive about my film choices."
After Kaatru Veliyidai, she's now, again, part of another Mani Ratnam film -- and this time, in a multi-starrer. "I would like to do every film with Mani sir if I had the opportunity. What he brings it out in me is special. I really enjoy his process of filmmaking. It is like going back to boarding school and yet, a whole lot of fun," she says. On the rich cast, she says, "It's a unit that feels like family and you feel like coming back home every time you're on the sets. I think I am probably the most inexperienced of all the actors."
Naturally, she isn't at liberty to give away information about the film. "I will be shooting for my portions soon and I am quite excited to be part of such an ensemble cast."
The conversation veers to her last Mani Ratnam film, Kaatru Veliyidai. "For me, succcess is when the directors I love come forward and choose me to work with them. Growing up as a kid, watching Bombay, I really wanted to be like Manisha Koirala. So imagine my excitement when Mani sir approached me with Kaatru Veliyidai. It was a no-brainer for me." But Kaatru Veliyidai was not your usual Mani Ratnam film, and met with polarising reactions. "It was a love story featuring flawed people but it was a special love story that made you believe in love. I think that the underlying concept of love making people strong is what connected with me immediately."
She believes that Varun, the problematic male protagonist, changed because of Leela, but many felt that it was actually the other way round. "It takes a lot of courage to look into the eyes of the person you love and tell him that you have to leave him because you won't be treated in a bad way. Mani sir used the prison as a metaphor. It was Varun's own prison, his personality, his own shortcomings and his inability to break out of his own temperament," says Aditi. "Leela, being younger and more innocent, tells him that if he crosses the 7 oceans, 7 mountains.... she will be waiting for him. Love is often seen as a source of weakness, but here, it is not."
She considers it a blessing that she's got an opportunity to work with Mani Ratnam again. "Directors like Mani Ratnam and Sanjay Leela Bhansali put a lot of energy into their work and create a world like wonderland that is cut off from the rest of the world, till they feel it's ready for visitors. I really like that about them, and it's a style I believe in too."