Aditi Rao Hydari exudes a raw sensuality that is both appealing and enchanting. She’s vulnerable, she’s beautiful, she’s like a fresh painting; she can captivate your attention with just her eyes, but there’s more to her than what you just see. Aditi, who is also a self-confessed five-year-old at heart who cries as easily as she laughs, spills the beans in this freewheeling chat with Man’s World. She speaks about her recent film Hey Sinamika, how important it is to play a lead, her Bollywood journey, OTT platforms, and other fun details. Excerpts:

Your role of Mouna in Hey Sinamika is being appreciated. How does it feel? Do you think it’s a bigger responsibility now?

I think that responsibility is always there. I always want to do good work and connect with people. I always wanted to work with good directors, tell good stories and I’ve done that. Sometimes it works and there are times when it doesn’t and it’s fine. We make films for the audiences and it depends on them if they like my work or not. Hey Sinamika has given me so much love. It’s not just the fans, but also the critics and colleagues who praised my work. The Tamil audiences have given the film so much love to me, Dulquer Salmaan, and Kajal. My pairing with Dulquer is fresh and the story revolves around us. Hey Sinamika was a big clutter breaker. It gave audiences something light and fresh even though it is an intense story. There are a lot of emotions but it’s a sweet film. 

What made you say yes to the script?

It was really simple, Madhan Karky is a fantastic writer and when he narrated the story to me, I immediately said yes. The situations in the film are not even real but still relatable. The issues discussed are real and relevant but it’s told in a very light-hearted manner. I loved the balance in the script. Honestly, it was a no-brainer for me as I love Brinda Master, Dulquer is a very good friend. I have been looking to do a film with him for a long time, so it was a win-win situation. Throughout the film, Dulquer kept telling me that I am the hero of the story but I’d say that the script is the hero. Mouna is very different from something I’ve played before. I’ve mostly done intense love stories but this one is a love story where the girl is very mischievous. It was challenging to play the character and that motivated me even more.

It’s a layered character and brings out the struggles of a woman undergoing a divorce. Mouna is going through a lot of emotions and when you play a certain character it kind of stays with you. How do you detach?

Yes, I attach myself to the characters that I play, but I can easily switch on and off. I was jumping around on the sets while shooting intense and emotional scenes to avoid that burden. When I go back to my home, it’s Aditi and not the character. My home doesn’t belong to my characters. It belongs to me. When I take off the costumes and wear my clothes, I don’t feel like those people. Those lines don’t get complicated for me. 

What has been your creative process? How do you prepare for your roles?

Knowing more and more about the character is something that helps me embody her better. A holistic way of thinking helps me utilise my creative potential to the fullest. You would mostly see me reading about the character, envisioning how she would behave or react in a certain situation. To develop a character within yourself, it takes an extremely strong and focused mind. And for that Yoga is my best friend as it helps me navigate through this creative journey effortlessly.

You continue to work in multiple movie industries. You are the OG pan-India actor. What do you have to say about that?

Pan-India films have become a topic of conversation but when I started, I just wanted to act, irrespective of the film industry or language. I had always dreamed of becoming Mani Ratnam’s heroine and I learned Tamil to do that. My mother always encouraged me and looked at acting as a form of art. She used to send me works of Bengali, Tamil, Telugu directors. I think from the time that I was growing up, I never felt the difference between the industries. For me, it has always been about the stories, the directors, the actors, representing different cultures. I didn’t do that to become a pan-India actor but I was staying true to myself and my dreams. I wanted to be a part of Indian cinema and work with great directors.

Did you get goosebumps while working with Mani Ratnam?

Yes. I was living my dream. I was grateful. 

At this point in your career, how important is it for you to play the lead? 

When you play a protagonist in a film, it’s always better as an actor. Having said that, it has never bothered me. If you look at West, they don’t have this concept of lead or side actors. It is only about good work. There’s a major shift in how directors and audiences look at stories now. I feel it’s not the length of your role, but the ability to relate with the audience through it that makes a difference. I’ve tried to be fearless and picked up roles that had an impact on me in a certain way. If you look at Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, I might not have the longest screen time but the most powerful character. 

How do you look back at your journey?

I believe in looking forward to life. There’s a curious child in me that wants to explore new things and push limits. I am just extremely grateful.

How has working with directors like Mani Ratnam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali helped you to evolve as an actor?

I have learned so much while working with these fine directors. It’s extremely thrilling to be around them and understand how they work. They have great minds and can create magic. I’m open to receiving and evolving as an actor.

Do you think OTT platforms are a game-changer?

I think OTT platforms have opened up the world of diverse content for viewers. It’s also viewers who have accepted this with open arms. With the streaming platforms, directors, writers, and actors have got a sense of freedom. Storytelling is changing and that’s beautiful. I love the magic of theatre and always will. But today, the OTT platforms have not only changed the dynamics of content consumption but also content creation. Right from the format, to the way it is projected and executed differs vastly from traditional entertainment. The content is much more relatable and personal in the way that it connects with the audience. Directors are exploring unconventional scripts. And there is so much interesting content being created. 

When we talk about Bollywood, actors need to look a certain way, be of a certain age. What do you have to say about that?

True. But it’s not about the difference in the industry or the culture but about the people that you work with. I am glad that things are changing and writers are writing characters irrespective of their age, colour, or sexuality. 

(Featured Image Credits: Instagram)