She is an award-winning actor whose talent speaks volumes of her versatility and passion for films. Working across numerous film industries in India, actress Aditi Rao Hydari is driven by the challenges of making good cinema. During the lockdown, she has also worked towards helping those in need. In this interview, she opens up about life, films and more.


Q. How are you managing during the lockdown?

A:I feel this is a time which is difficult for everyone in their own way. But every time I feel overwhelmed, I tell myself that I’m really blessed and lucky. I’m grateful for everything that I have because there are a lot of people who have very real and frightening problems. It’s incomparable. The only way to stay positive is share what I can whether monetarily, food grain, etc. That’s something and constructive that you can do. Sharing and being kind is one of the most amazing things that one can do. Every little drop counts.

Q: You’ve worked with Irrfan Khan and he passed away recently as did Rishi Kapoor. Was it a sudden shock for you as well?

A: Absolutely! Because you’re locked away in your homes and there’s things you’re dealing with and suddenly you hear — one day after the next — about two people who are so dear to everybody. What is sad is that even though you’re part of the film industry which is like family but you don’t get closure since you can’t be there. I think Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor will live forever through their work and the way they inspired us. Both of them have been gamechangers in many ways, so versatile and distinctive, individualistic people and actors.

Q: Is there any particular memory you have of Irrfan Khan? You were in ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’ with him.

A: In ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’ I didn’t have a single scene with him. When you are new, people who encourage you and are good to you, you always remember extra fondly. I remember walking into Sudhir Mishra’s office and Irrfan had just seen the film. He told me that he was only watching me through the film and that I’ll go very far. It was overwhelming for me. He was very sweet.

Q: What are some of your favourite Rishi Kapoor films? Did you have any interactions with him?

A: I loved him in ‘Kapoor and Sons’. He was amazing! I loved ‘Luck By Chance’ and my fave line of his is, “she’s a crocodile in a chiffon”. D-Day, Chandni, Deewana, Bobby… so many! He was also very affectionate and very stern. I remember him basically scolding me. I think it was my first IIFA and I was serving myself some food. He called me over and blasted me! He said I was so talented but I was wasting my time and critiqued my films. I was new at the time and was confused about some films. It was so funny but I didn’t know whether to be afraid or laugh. Ranbir (Kapoor) always used to say that he does that to people whom he’s very fond of.

Rishi Kapoor

Q: Your repertoire of films is very versatile from larger-than-life films to very character-driven realistic ones. What do you look for in a script?

A: Creators of good cinema where the work is timeless is what attracts me. I’m dying to work with certain directors based on their previous work. Sometimes it›s actors and mostly instinct. The script and the character have to be good. I have done 20-minute roles and two-hour roles. What is important is that the person who is watching should take me home with them.

Q: Talking about directors, you’ve done two films with Mani Ratnam and you seem to have a special bond with him.

A: I became an actor because of him. You have this dream growing up and then the dream comes true. It makes you believe in the purity of your dream and belief. It’s life-affirming for me. For me, he is more than a director; he is like a parent. He is so inspiring and has changed my life in so many ways. Working with him is very challenging and tough but Madras Talkies is a comfort space.

Q: How do manage working in numerous film industries? Are you comfortable now with all the languages?  

A: This also has to do with personality. I end up working with people with whom I know I’ll be happy and comfortable. Like I said, the journey is important. Up till now, 99% of my experiences have been really incredible and I’ve had a lot of love, care, fun and challenge. When I entered films, my drive was to work with amazing filmmakers and they don’t come in a particular language or country. I feel cinema is so much about feelings and feelings don’t have a language. Basically, I have to make the person in front of me feel what I’m going through as a character in the story. The experiences I have had and hope to continue to have are varied and I feel blessed. It’s not that I prefer one language over the other. I’m saying this honestly and openly — wherever someone gives me a good script and a good director, I will push myself and go and work there.