'I’ve watched Farhan Akhtar's films, and admired him. Then when I saw him in person, I was overwhelmed.'
Candid confessions from Aditi Rao Hydari.
Aditi Rao Hydari is terribly excited about her film Wazir, and working with stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar. But you wouldn't know it if you saw her.
The fashionable actress sits coolly across the table, in casual attire and minimal makeup.
But once she starts talking...
Jahnavi Patel/ Rediff.com listens in.
Photograph: Aditi Rao Hydari/ Instagram
You’re not doing too many films. Why is that?
I’m very particular about what I do but I’m not choosy for no reason.
Also, when you're not from the movie industry, when you don’t know people, every step that you take is on your own, without anyone backing you. It’s not a very easy world.
But I have opportunities, and I consider myself privileged because there are so many people who struggle everyday to get that one good film.
I may have done fewer films but I'm happy about all of them... Yeh Saali Zindagi, London Paris New York, Murder 3...
Besides that, our industry is quite image-driven and I don’t want to be stuck in a box. I want to be versatile. I don’t think films are about big or small budgets, big or small actors. Films are about good stories, good actors and good directors and producers.
Those are the different kinds of films and we need to understand the difference and go with it. Like how films are made abroad -- there are big ticket films that are made in a particular way and then there are films that are made because there is a great story and characters.
I try and pick the best from whatever is in front of me. I don’t have that privilege of power where I can click my fingers and tell Shoojit Sircar, Aanand L Rai and Sanjay Leela Bhansali to make a film for me. So I hope and work hard so that one day they will call me. Like how Wazir just happened; I didn't know anybody on the team.
Did you always want to be an actress?
Well, I started watching Hindi films later, not as a little girl. I loved them.
During the Wazir shooting, I would watch Mr Bachchan or Farhan perform, and then run to the monitor and see how it came out. It was magic for me! I loved it.
I think I always wanted to be a part of the movie world. But when you’re not from here, you don’t even know what the first step is.
I remember the first time somebody asked me for pictures, I sent a passport-size picture. I was studying then. Someone in Chennai said they needed a dancer, and asked for my picture. So I quietly mailed them a picture, without telling my mother.
I used to think it's so wannabe to shoot a portfolio.
I have been dancing since I was five. One day, at a show, I got asked for a film. I said no because I was studying for my exams then. But it was destiny because their dates changed. My exams got over and I did the film.
Since you don't have a godfather, how difficult is it bagging Hindi films?
There is no dearth of work. But to do the kind of work you want to do is tough.
It's about being with the right people and being related to them. But there's no resentment in me.
I am very determined and will not compromise in my beliefs. I’m living example of the fact that you can do things your way and create a space for yourself in the industry. People say I’ve been underutilised but I look at that as a positive thing. If people think that about me, there’s so much more I can do.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra has said that casting you in Wazir was an instant decision.
I was speechless and went completely numb.
First, I started jumping and then when Bejoy (Nambiar, director) told me what it actually was, I just stared. Then I slapped myself, pinched myself and then called mom. I was too excited.
Were you intimidated by the fact that you were going with Amitabh Bachchan?
I haven’t grown up around these people. I’ve seen them on television.
Like with Farhan Akhtar, I’ve watched his films, and admired him. Then when I saw him in person, I was overwhelmed.
There’s awe and that feeling of being intimidated.
But once the camera is turned on, it all goes away.
What was it like working with Farhan?
I'm hashtaged 'fan girl' a million times with him.
I had met Mr and Mrs Bachchan before and they had been really kind to me.
But I didn’t know Farhan at all.
I knew of his work and that he's a rock star, a movie star, a director, a producer... there's nothing he cannot do.
When I met him, I was totally googly-eyed.
Of course, everyone spends time through the course of the film; he has a great sense of humour, the kind I really love.
Just before a scene where I’m supposed to look hectic, I’d be splitting my sides laughing.
I have a lot of scenes where I’m laughing, and I would actually laugh. Bejoy had to tell me that I was laughing too hard. So I said, don't make me laugh so much; I want to laugh prettily.
Which is that one quality about Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar you liked the most?
Mr Bachchan has an amazing command over language, whether it is Hindi, Urdu or English. The way he speaks is so beautiful.
Besides that, he's such an experienced actor but he still has a twinkle in his eye. His eyes shine with excitement and mischief.
Whatever Farhan does, it's always 100 percent. I’m very inspired by that. I also feel his eyes are very honest when he is acting.
You’re a Bharat Natyam dancer. Did that help for Wazir?
Yes. In fact, the first test that Mr Vidhu Vinod Chopra saw was my dancing test.
I had done three tests -- dancing, acting and the photoshoot.
He saw the dancing test and selected me instantly. At least, that’s what I heard.
Aamir Khan's wife Kiran Rao is your first cousin. Do you approach her or Aamir for any advice?
This is a very personal question. She has been in the city longer and she’s my older cousin, so of course, I would call her if I needed to speak to her about something. But I don't want to say what we speak about.
You're very fashionable.
I have fun with fashion.
It's putting together anything that would look good together. I know what fashion is not about -- it’s not about spending a lot of money, or about big brands and labels. It's about letting your personality shine through with all the things that you wear.
It shouldn’t be stressful.
You are very active on Instagram. Do you love clicking yourself?
Oh god, I love it!
You just have to put me in front of the camera and I won't move from there.
When I was a child, I would play 'photo-photo' and everybody had to click my picture.
I really like to be in front of the camera. I love selfies. I think I don’t take enough selfies!
What are your upcoming projects?
Abhishek Kapoor's Fitoor and Sudhir Mishra's Aur Devdas.