Aditi Rao Hydari opens up on her Telugu film Sammohanam and why she loves playing vulnerable characters

Hemanth Kumar

Jun,14 2018 15:49:45 IST

“Life is so boring if you don’t believe in magic and unicorns,” says Aditi Rao Hydari in the midst of our conversation, as she talks about taking risks she takes, and discovering her path. She has clearly worked hard to be where she is today and after having earned the trust of filmmakers like Mani Ratnam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sudhir Mishra, to name a few, she is in a fine place today.

Aditi Rao Hydari/Image from Instagram.

Aditi Rao Hydari/Image from Instagram.

“I feel like a kid walking in a magical forest, who eventually finds light. In these past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best directors in the country. I’ve elephants in my stomach when I walk into a set and the first day is always scary. You have a million questions in your mind about how you’re going to do it, but the time frame between action and cut is magical for me. I remember, when I first moved to Mumbai, Sudhir Mishra once told me, ‘You are a good kid. You’ll be a star one day. But if you start believing in your own myth, that will be the end of you.' That has stayed with me. I haven’t lost touch with my own reality," she says.

With films like Padmaavat, Kaatru Veliyidai, and the soon-to-be-released Chekka Chivantha Vaanam to her credit, Aditi has broken through the ranks to carve a niche for herself.

And now, she is all set to make her debut in Telugu cinema with Indraganti Mohan Krishna’s Sammohanam. She plays an actress who falls in love with an illustrator, and Aditi says there’s more to the film than what the storyline suggests.

“Sometimes, we ourselves lose touch with reality and forget who we really are, and it’s all the more true when it comes to actors. People have a different perception about us. Although they are so much part of people’s daily lives, actors are still unreachable for most of them, and they also become objects and commodities. In this process, people tend to forget that actors are human beings too, they too have a heart. And their hearts break, they cry, and they are vulnerable. I loved that Mohan Krishna Indraganti addressed all this in the film and wrote such a beautiful character for me. Sammohanam humanises actors and I really hope people also see that when they watch the film,” she says.

Aditi Rao Hydari and Kalyanram in a still from the film.

Indraganti Mohan Krishna is one among the very few writer-directors in Telugu cinema who has focused on writing interesting roles for women. And Aditi confesses that she thoroughly enjoyed working with him because it turned to be a very collaborative experience. “I love working with directors who understand women and write them beautifully. Some writer-directors are extremely particular about what they want and they expect you to stick to it. But Indraganti was quite open to suggestions. I was able to add my own experiences as an actress into some of the scenes. It was very collaborative effort.  I’m so glad that this is my debut film in Telugu and I must admit that I’ve been pampered way too much by the team (laughs),” the actress adds.

Over the past few years, Aditi has consistently been featured in characters where she plays someone who’s fragile and vulnerable, who might be left heart-broken anytime soon. The actress sees a pattern and agrees that it has a lot to do with wanting to work with directors who will push her to her limits.

“I am very vulnerable in person too. One of the strongest things that I find in a person is that they can look at someone in the eye and show their vulnerability. With fragility comes strength. You don’t have to be scream to show that you have strength. I’m very free-spirited. I work best in conditions where I can completely surrender myself to the vision of the director, and I get my fuel from that. I’ve worked with directors who nudge you to jump off a cliff, take risks without thinking too much. Mani Ratnam, Sanjay Leela Bhansali are like that. In fact, I’m here only because of the faith that my directors had in me,” she confesses.

It’s easy to understand why Aditi Rao Hydari is so fond of Mani Ratnam. The duo have struck a great equation and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she treats him like a father-figure. That he has been honing her craft is quite evident.

“Absolutely! He’s like a god-sent mentor, parent, teacher. Here’s very strict and taskmaster, and there’s no leniency whatsoever when you are on the set. I thrive in such conditions. I have been a dancer right from my childhood and my teacher was like that. When you work, it doesn’t matter if you bleed. You bleed for your craft. Off set, Mani sir is like a teddy bear; sort of a father figure to all of us. But on the set, you are there because he believes in you and you better live up to his expectations. There’s no hierarchy. You are part of the team. It’s liberating and beautiful way of working. There are days when you feel like you might die because he’s sprinting ahead. The man eats, sleeps and dreams cinema. You are always struggling to keep up, but we all have major withdrawal symptoms when we go back. And the next day, you really want to get back to the grind. That’s the magic of working with Mani Ratnam,” Aditi says.

Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 15:49 PM