Her dance number Luv letter from The Legend of Michael Mishra has been ruling the chartbusters. Aditi Rao Hydari, however, doesn’t take it kindly when journalists term the song an ‘item number.’ “You are referring to a girl as an item. Please don’t call it an item number. It’s a dance number. When Madhuri Dixit dances, you call her a dancer. You don’t call her an item. It all depends on how you treat yourself.” That’s Aditi Rao Hydari—gentle and dignified, but armed with a quiet strength. She is a no-nonsense girl who likes doing films that are lauded for their content. Her filmography is proof of that.
When Aditi was eight, she caught the attention of Muzaffar Ali, who was making Zooni. Her resemblance to Shobana (national award winning actor and dancer) got her a role in a dance-based Tamil film. A small role in Delhi-6, a parallel lead in Sudhir Mishra’s Yeh Saali Zindagi, London Paris New York and Murder 3 followed in quick succession. She has numerous supporting roles and ad films to her credit. The length of the role is insignificant to her. “It doesn’t matter how long or short my role is. I don’t have to be centrestage to shine. I just want to have fun.”
She was born into an illustrious family in Hyderabad. Her paternal grand father J. Rameshwar Rao was the Raja of Wanaparthy, a principality of Hyderabad and the founder of the publishing house Longman India, which later became Orient Blackswan. Her great grandfather from her father’s side, Sir Akbar Hydari, was the prime minister of the Nizam of Hyderabad and was instrumental in setting up Osmania University. Aditi had a progressive upbringing and learnt Bharatanatyam from the age of five from Leela Samson. Interestingly, she chose to keep the names of both her parents. “My mom has brought me up, but my father is also a part of me. Hydari is a rare name so I’ve kept both Rao and Hydari.”
With no filmi background and no godfather to back her in the industry, her journey in Bollywood hasn’t been an easy one. “Even after so many years, every step I take is a struggle. At the same time, I am grateful because it has been possible. The film industry is a very big place. People look at talent, and I can clearly put myself up as an example. I had no backing when I started and still have none. It is hard, but I am moving forward and working with really amazing people.”
Although Aditi bagged big-budget films like Fitoor and Wazir in 2016, the films had an average run at the box office. She has yet to have a breakthrough role or a box office breaking film. “For a girl like me, who works in a particular way, it’s a matter of time, luck, patience and perseverance.” The Murder 3 actor feels she doesn’t get the right type of roles as not many filmmakers are ready to take the risk of casting a ‘relative newcomer’ like her. She hopes things will change with her upcoming films.
Movies round the corner
After working with the likes of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Amitabh Bachchan and Malayalam actor Mammootty, Aditi recently worked with Mani Ratnam for the first time in the upcoming romantic drama Kaatru Veliyidai. “I find Mani sir’s heroines to be gentle, yet headstrong. They are loving, yet stubborn. They are free spirited and vulnerable. You can see that they have the courage to love, but they also possess the courage to walk away from that love with equal passion. Many a time, they are goofy and uninhibited and yet, they can be grace personified. Above all, they are always endearing. I always dreamt of being a Mani Ratnam heroine.” The Wazir actor will also be seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati and in Sanjay Dutt’s comeback film Bhoomi, helmed by Mary Kom director Omung Kumar.
Does she have a plan B just in case acting doesn’t work out? “I can’t imagine not acting. It’s the perfect amalgamation of everything that I love to do—dance, music and art.”
Earliest childhood memory Waking up to the sounds of the tanpura. My mom is a thumri dadra singer.
Beauty is About owning who you are. When you are happy you are beautiful. Happiest girls are the prettiest girls.
Unknown about you That I have dimples on my shoulders and I have to tell photographers not to photoshop them!
Filmmaker I must work before I die Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Aanand L. Rai, Shoojit Sircar, Vishal Bhardwaj and some others I have already worked with!
My idea of fashion Instinctive and effortless.
My personal style I like to look effortlessly beautiful. I love to dress up. I am a very girlie girl.
One thing that can make a woman’s life better Respect for herself.
Favourite getaway Turkey, because it’s the best combination of Europe and the exotic. I like London, too. I have a half-Irish grandmother, so I have a special affinity to that place.