I am lucky I get to be face of exquisite period dramas: Aditi Rao Hydari

Hydari's latest is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's pre-Partition era series 'Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar'. Her tryst with period dramas goes back to Bhansali's 2018 magnum opus 'Padmaavat'.
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 06:58 IST
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 06:58 IST

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New Delhi: "I own it and love it," says actor Aditi Rao Hydari, who feels lucky to be known as the face of period dramas but also enjoys playing the brat and is dying to do a "fabulous mystery thriller".

Hydari's latest is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's pre-Partition era series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. Her tryst with period dramas goes back to Bhansali's 2018 magnum opus Padmaavat, in which she played the role of Alauddin Khilji's wife Mehrunissa. Since then, the actor has also starred in period drama shows such as Taj: Divided by Blood and Jubilee.

While she is happy to be associated with projects belonging to another space and time, she said she doesn't want to limit herself to one genre.

"I'm lucky that I get to be the face of these exquisite period dramas. For some reason, people and directors feel that it works and I belong. I also feel very comfortable (working in period dramas). Maybe it's my love for music, dance, history, and culture. Period dramas take you into (a space) what is truly Indian. Even in Heeramandi, there is this whole Indian art aesthetic, dance, music. I really enjoy it," Hydari told PTI.

"Having said that, my contemporary life is very important for me. So, when I play contemporary parts, I enjoy that (too). In the South, I have done some work like that. I enjoy being a brat or fooling around on camera for a role, whether it's a rom-com or something else," she added.

In Heeramandi, the director's debut web series, she plays a courtesan and freedom fighter named Bibbojaan, an embodiment of beauty, grace and character. The show is streaming on Netflix.

Not everyone can do justice to starring in a period setting, said the Hyderabad-born actor, who said she won't push away what audiences and directors love about her.

I'm saying, I love it, I own it. Especially with period, you may want to do it, but you need to organically belong there. People need to feel that you belong there otherwise it just seems off and people will not go into the suspension of belief.

"The actor in me also wants to mix it up and be versatile and be contemporary too. Sometimes just do something very light and fun," said Hydari, adding that she would love to do films such as martial arts action adventure film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and psychological thriller Gone Girl.

For many, Bhansali's name is synonymous with grandeur but she believes the director's insights are full of 'depth and layers'.

"The fact that Sanjay sir gave that life (of Bibbojaan) to me and made her a part of mine, it's incredible... What an incredible journey a girl like that would have had at that point of time. She's artistic, kind, sweet, and vulnerable. But what makes her special is her fearlessness... that she takes destiny on. Her vulnerability makes her fearless and her fearlessness makes her vulnerable. That juxtaposition is always there." It's uncommon to get "heroic" parts like Bibbojaan, she said.

It's not just physical (appearance), it's the grace of her heart and soul. I find that very beautiful because as women, our characters can often become one tone. This also tends to happen in real life generally. There are so many layers to us.

"Somewhere, the value that Sanjay sir has for women, how he looks at women as complete human beings, that comes into many of his heroines, especially in Bibbojaan. I love that she has fire and grace," said the actor.

There were no real references to playing the role and Hydari said she went in just listening to what Bhansali had to say.

"But my mother has done research on tawaifs and thumri and she also sings thumri. So I have heard stories as a child growing up and when that happens around you, you tend to take it for granted. But it still somewhere becomes a part of your consciousness, dance and music." Her mother is Hindustani classical singer Vidya Rao.

One of the most anticipated series of 2024, Heeramandi has been praised for its drama, lavish set design, and well-crafted clothes. However, a section of viewers has called out the series for romanticising brothels, historical and linguistic inaccuracies.

Addressing the varied reviews, Hydari said she would take criticism in her stride as long as it is of some value.

"What they are saying must have value and they must come with their own sense of knowledge and understanding that they are making these observations. Most of the people are making noise and it's just that. They have an opinion but I'm asking where your opinion is coming from? Do you have a lot of knowledge on filmmaking, or this subject, or art? You are entitled to your opinion, but I'm just saying don't be nasty." According to the actor, Heeramandi is not a historical but a series and hopes viewers watch it for what it is.

"Here is a filmmaker who is legendary, we should love the man. He is precious to us and our cinema. He has a voice, he is creating something that the world has never seen. The world is celebrating it, what is our problem? This is not a historical, it's a series about these six women and this whole world. It is Sanjay sir's blood, sweat, tears and love. I'm not defending it, I'm just saying why can't we be more expansive? Why can't our hearts be bigger? Why can't we celebrate art? There are different types of art and directors. See the intention and just flow. Enjoy it."

Heeramandi also stars Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Richa Chadha, Sharmin Segal, Fardeen Khan, Taha Shah Badussha, Shekhar Suman, Adhyayan Suman, Farida Jalal, and Indresh Malik.

Published 08 May 2024, 06:58 IST

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