Aditi Rao Hydari exudes a raw sensuality that is both appealing and enchanting. She can captivate your attention with just her eyes, but there’s more to her personality than her beauty. Aditi, who is also a confessed five-year-old at heart who cries as easily as she laughs, spills the beans in this freewheeling chat with Outlook’s Eshita Bhargava. She also spoke about the Stand-Up initiative that she is part of, how important it is to play a lead, her Bollywood journey, if OTT platforms are a game-changer and much more.
Tell us something about the Stand Up initiative.
It has honestly been a fulfilling journey with L’Oréal Paris, I have always maintained how proud I feel to be the face of this iconic brand since my very first association with it. As a public figure, I resonate so well with the brand philosophy and today, I feel honoured to be a part of another path-breaking campaign – Stand Up. To highlight the issue of street harassment faced by multitudes of women worldwide, Stand-Up is one such platform that aims to train and equip individuals to tackle harassment in public spaces. It’s a huge step towards bringing change in the mindset of those who would feel hesitant or fearful in such situations and I believe every women and man should know how to be able to deal with these issues when faced with.
What is the biggest challenge you faced in Bollywood as an outsider?
The moment you use the word outsider you’ve already divided the industry and created an ‘Us vs Them’. The Film Industry is pretty inclusive especially when it comes to talent, not always when it comes to getting enough opportunities to showcase your versatility and talent. It’s a fact that I don’t come from a film family so I won’t have the same access to people and projects that some others might have. These challenges initially used to be difficult to navigate especially when I was new in the industry and particular about how I wanted to work. Over the years, as you do more work and create your own space and identity one stops getting hassled about these things. I don’t resent someone else's privilege and neither does it mess with my spirit or belief. I love my work and the ability to take on challenges proves how much I enjoy what I do. So I’d say, I’m genuinely grateful to be a part of the magic that is cinema.
What is the best and the worst thing about being an actor?
Personally, for me, the way that I work towards establishing the character is a part that I mostly look forward to. As an actor, the role of our job is not just to deliver few lines, but we have to completely embody the character. For instance, for a role like Mehrunissa from Padmavat, it wasn’t just about following what the script demands, but also to live and recreate the character – The way Mehrunissa would think, the way she would carry herself, etc. We have to completely submerge ourselves in that entity and it takes time. But once it’s achieved, it’s the happiest feeling.
Likewise, when I am working on multiple projects and I need to switch between these characters. It is a challenge but an enthralling one.
What is your dream role?
Dream directors create dream roles. Not the other way around.
You continue straddling multiple movie industries. Has it been a struggle or is it the only way in which you can function?
I love doing Pan-India work. It’s tougher, the work I have to put in is huge, and timelines are tough, but it’s all worth it for the kinds of filmmakers I get to work with. The biggest blessing of all is the love and acceptance of the people across industries. I know how special and rare that is, and I value it a lot.
What is the best and the worst thing about your job?
The best part about acting is I always get to explore and learn something new. From each project that I pick, there has always been a massive amount of learning from the character, the script, and the way it challenges me to keep pushing my boundaries.
Something that is even more challenging at times is the shoot schedules and the number of flights we board! Switching between time zones for work sounds fun but is extremely hectic and tiring as well. But if the results are worth it then that’s what matters.
Do you think playing a lead is important?
I feel every person who is cast for a project are equally important irrespective of the nature and span of their role. I could be doing a 1 min cameo but if I loved the script, I want to be a part of that project.
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.
Social media has become a vicious space and people hide behind their faceless accounts and troll celebrities (and everyone). How do you keep yourself motivated and positive?
Internet trolling has become a part of everyone’s life, no matter how much we dislike it. But we all learn to tackle this. My only approach to dealing with internet trolls is to filter the positive comments and focus on what’s important. If something is pressing, I do take a minute to think about it but don’t delve too much into it if it’s nothing of grave concern. We need to learn to be mindful of everyone and social media as space gives us all the power to voice opinions. As for me, I just focus on staying positive and motivating myself to work harder.
Do you think OTT platforms are a game-changer?
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 audiences. Directors are exploring unconventional scripts. And there is so much interesting content being created. I do also think that once things settle, we will value both the theatrical experience and the OTT experience equally because each experience is unique.
Tell us one thing no one knows about you.
I have dimples on my shoulders.
Have you ever used your innocent looks to get away with something?
Haha! Well maybe, no just joking. I don’t think I have needed to do that yet!
Classic or modern—what would your look be as a bride?
It would be a mix of both worlds. I am a big fan of minimalism so that would reflect in my overall look. But I would still like to have a balance of the traditional elements in my ensemble, with a few heritage pieces for the jewellery and a speck of the modern bride with a soft and glowing makeup that makes me feel fresh and uplifted.
I have some interesting projects I am currently shooting for across the four industries I work in and have heard a few stories I’d like to explore but it would be too soon to speak about them.