The gorgeous starlet who was to make her on-screen debut with the Tamil film Sringaram, however was seen in her first theatrical release, the Malayalam film Prajapathi in 2006, in which she starred alongside Mammootty. Her February 2022 Tamil release Hey Sinamika with Dulquer Salmaan and Kajal Aggarwal, garnered a lot of attention. But it was her lead role in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Veliyidai as doctor Leela Abraham that made the South Indian film industry stand up and recognise this talent. She also won many awards for this movie. Her recent release Maha Samudram in Telugu with Sharwanand and Siddharth was loved by all. Born in Hyderabad, Aditi Rao Hydari has worked in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam films and will soon be seen in Gandhi Talks alongside Vijay Sethupathi and Arvind Swami, besides Taj: Divided by Blood, Heeramandi, Jubilee and other interesting projects.

What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
One of the most special points of my professional journey would be working with director Mani Ratnam. I got into the films and wanted to be an actor because I watched Mani Sir’s films as a child and I wanted to be a Mani Ratnam heroine. So, when I worked with him, it was like a little girl’s dream come true and it made me believe in my dreams. And there’s lot more to do in the future, so we’ll see.

What does family mean to you? How was the lockdown period for you? How do you spend time when you’re not working or at a shoot?
Family has always been essential for me. To me, it signifies unconditional love, understanding and also learning by example. When you see incredible people around you doing incredible things and also living with grace, dignity and self-respect, it is something that you imbibe, just by watching. For me, family signifies all of that as well as a warm, cuddly blanket of love. In the lockdown, it has become more apparent to me that priorities are so important and at the end of the day, it is important to know that you are loved and that you have a family and you have to be grateful for the family every single moment.

How do you like to keep a work life balance? There are days when you’re working non-stop for many hours. What keeps you going?
Honestly, I have not had a great balance because I have been a hamster in a wheel, running around from Chennai to Hyderabad to Mumbai to Kerala to everywhere. I have enjoyed it but post the lockdown, I have also realised that it is important to prioritise your people, time for yourself and also to be like a curious child on a set, which to me is like a playground. The combination of everything is really important and I am trying to learn that now as we go along. Let’s see where I get with it.

How would you describe your fashion statement?
I wear what I like and my style is effortlessly classic or classically effortless. I love watches and I’m very happy to be associated with Nebula’s collection of curated 18KT gold watches for this wedding season, because the pieces are truly, very beautiful. With intricate detailing and embellished with diamonds and precious stones, these watches are opulent and elegant and perfectly accessorise all my outfits for any wedding or a formal function. I love watches, and quite often at weddings I wish that I had a timepiece but sometimes a watch doesn’t quite complement traditional wear. I would happily wear this to any wedding or function where I’m wearing traditional clothes. I love this collection and as an accessory that is stunning.

How would you like to describe your dream man?
My dream man should make me laugh and I should respect that person. The person should have the playfulness and the most important is to respect each other. Love comes from respect.

What does social media mean to you?
Social media is sharing with your fans your truest, most authentic self and giving them a piece of you. I do believe in the power of social media as it’s a great way of connecting with people online.

Rapid fire:

1. Your dream role?
There are too many, I have dream directors not dream roles.

2. Dream director?
Mani Sir, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Anurag Basu, there are too many.

3. Politics, religion, business, sports or entertainment?

4. Your pet peeve?
I don’t like badly behaved, negative people who talk down to others.

5. Some essentials that are always in your bag?
My bag is like my house, I have everything in it including my watch, because when I’m shooting I can’t wear a watch so it goes in my bag.

6. Yoga or gym?

7. Indian food or global cuisine?
Both. I love Indian food as well as trying out all kinds of global cuisine.

8. Closest friends from the industry or outside?
A lot of my friends are childhood friends from before I became an actor.

9. Beaches or hills?
Beaches with hills

10. Veg or non veg?
I like both.

11. Fame or money?
Quality work first, fame and money will follow.

12. Indian wear or Western wear?
I love Indian wear, but then I like western wear too.

13. Straight hair or curls?
Wavy hair.

14. The last good film/web series you watched?
I binge watched Crash Landing On You which is a Korean drama and I loved it.

15. A movie you’d recommend?
I watched Jai Bhim. It is a Tamil film and it really moved me. I wept a lot.

16. First thing you notice about a person?
Their aura and energy.

17. One thing that makes you feel beautiful?
Happy people and happiness makes me feel beautiful. I genuinely feel beautiful when I am surrounded by positivity and happiness.