It’s a different Hyderabad that Aditi Rao Hydari experienced on Wednesday, when she was in the city for a panel discussion as part of Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017. “I’ve always found Hyderabad clean and lovely, but this time it’s even better as the city is hosting GES 2017,” says the actor, speaking to us before leaving the city. She was a part of the panel that included film producer Ronnie Screwvala and Nigerian actor-producer-director Stephanie Linus, to discuss ‘The future of cinema’.
“I was the only non-producer in the team and I found it interesting to understand different viewpoints of where cinema is headed,” says Aditi. The actor who entered cinema seven years ago states that it took her sometime to find her feet, understand cinema and realise where she stands as an actor. “However, in the last one and a half years I’ve been asking questions to people in my fraternity — why aren’t theatres filling up like they used to before? Even if they fill up why are revenues not looking up? In the initial years I didn’t know about back-end discussions. Now I am eager to know about taxes, ticket prices, how the digital medium works… I feel both cinema and digital medium have to co-exist,” she elaborates.
Aditi feels cinema will always offer a magical experience and considers herself as an actor primarily working in cinema. What if she’s offered a Netflix original series? “I’ve understood that the director and the script at the foremost for a project. I’ve never done a digital series, but if there’s a good director and a good script that challenges me, I would be game. I am a greedy actor always looking for something good to do,” she states.
We will be seeing more of Aditi in Hyderabad when she begins shooting for her first Telugu film to be helmed by director Indraganti Mohanakrishna and co-starring Sudheer Babu. She’s been taking diction classes for Telugu. Aditi didn’t grow up in Hyderabad and though she can understand when someone speaks to her in Telugu, she isn’t conversant in the language. “It’s tough to learn a language and its nuances but it’s exciting as well. I took classes for Tamil when I did Kaatru Veliyidai,” she mentions. At the end of working for the Mani Ratnam film, Aditi could sing the Vaan Varuvaan song. Remind her of that and she laughs, “Mani sir trained me well.”
The clinching factor for her Telugu film, she says, was the fact that Indraganti Mohanakrishna writes strong parts for women, “Commercial cinema doesn’t mean women should be belittled. Indraganti sir works with the commercial format, be it comedy or romantic drama, and his women have distinct voices.”
She hopes to be able to dub in Telugu, “For certain characters, it’s okay if there’s a slight accent and for a few others, you need a native touch. Let’s see how this goes but I hope I can do it.”
Despite being from Hyderabad, Aditi reveals that she wasn’t approached for Telugu films earlier. “Nothing interesting came from here. But now that I have signed this film, there are other offers. My primary focus is in Hindi cinema.
But if something interesting like Kaatru Veliyidai or this film comes up, why not? When you look at the diversity in Indian cinema, there’s so much to explore,” says Aditi.
Talking of the Kaatru Veliyidai experience and her recurring emphasis on strong parts for women, we ask her what she thought of the debate surrounding her character Leela, a doctor stuck in an abusive relationship. “Leela has the courage to fall in love with someone like VC (played by Karthi) who is trapped in his own aggression. But when she’s treated badly, she has the courage to tell him that she can’t take it any more and walks out. Mani sir’s writing doesn’t judge the relationship, but he doesn’t make excuses for VC’s behaviour. Recently I watched another film about a girl in a violent relationship and she had absolutely no voice. And, my respect for Mani sir grew a 100 times more,” Aditi signs off.