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Aditi’s many hats

Aditi Rao Hydari opens up on her career and what it was like to sing for Rahman

For about seven years, this pretty woman has been able to make a mark in both South and Hindi cinema. But Aditi Rao Hydari is not just an actress, she’s a singer to boot. The talented Aditi spoke to The Woods on singing for A.R. Rahman, working with Sudhir Mishra and the Weinstein problem.

We saw Aditi Rao Hydari, the singer, at the Rahman show in IIFA New York. Was the song from a film? Do you intend to take up singing more seriously?

It’s every musician’s dream to work with Rahman sir. I am not a trained singer and so, to be picked to sing with Rahman sir was surreal. Earlier this year, I had done a period love story directed by Mani Ratnam called Kaatru Veliyidai (Into This Breezy Expanse). The song Vaan that I sang was from this film. Rahman sir on the piano and me singing Vaan... I still can’t believe it happened. 

About taking up singing more seriously, I’m primarily an actor who can also sing and dance. There are great singers out there and I respect their work and their “riyaaz”. Singing for myself might add a rawness and naturalness. If the film and character demands it, I’m very happy to do so. It depends on the vision of the composer and director. Rahman sir is a genius and everyone knows that. But above all that, he is a deeply artistic person with a Sufi soul... I was lucky to work on Mani sir’s film and lucky to have all these amazing songs. Rahman sir’s compositions are challenging to sing. Rahman sir helped me understand where to take a breath and how to extend a line... I didn’t miss any of the rehearsals. 

You got noticed with Sudhir Mishra’s Yeh Saali Zindagi and now you’re working with him again in Aur Devdas. What is the status on the release of the film?

I had just moved to Mumbai during Yeh Saali Zindagi. I was new and no one knew me. I wasn’t taken to promote the film, my posters were cancelled, no one knew I was in the film and I was in tears. Then the trailers came, the reviews came and the calls started. I got my first award and an Amul hoarding and everything changed! It was amazing working with Sudhir sir again... Sudhir sir’s adaptation of Devdas will hopefully release in February. I play Chandni, a girl who drops out of an MBA and gets entwined in the world of politics. It’s through her eyes that you see everything unfold in the film. I excepted Sudhir sir to give me Paro’s character. But he wanted me to play Chandni. The characters are inspired by the original novel, what you will see on screen is completely Sudhir sir’s writing and his imagination. 

You have been working in both South Indian films and in Mumbai for nearly seven years now. Do you think there are Weinsteins in the Indian film industries?

This is a problem everywhere and men in positions of power control and bully women into “complying”. This barter of “give in or lose your job” is a problem in every field, especially in the entertainment business. Consent needs to be hammered home. Also somewhere, we women have to have the confidence and faith in ourselves that we can’t give the power to a few beastly men to make or break us. It’s hard but it’s possible.  

How was it working with Farhan Akhtar and Mr Bachchan in Wazir?

I’ve been lucky to have been picked by amazing people. From Mr Bachchan and Farhan to Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Mani Ratnam, I’m a sponge on set taking it all in, watching and learning and giving every second my best and counting my blessings in gratitude for the opportunities I’ve got. I’m always ready for a challenge.

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