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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Actor Aditi Rao Hydari is extremely pleased with the response she received for her first Malayalam movie as a leading lady.
Sufiyum Sujatayum is a romantic musical in which the actor plays a dancer who falls in love with a Sufi singer, but she is married off to Jayasurya's character, an NRI from Dubai. The film, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video, is said to be the first film in the language to have a direct-to-OTT release.
"I'm very glad that people have liked the film and the songs, and are appreciating my performance. The movie was set for a theatrical release, but considering Malayalam films have such a good viewership in the digital space, the producer decided to go for a direct OTT release," said Hydari, who made her screen debut in the Mammootty-starrer Prajapathi in which she did a cameo.
"I don't know why people are connecting me with Prajapathi now. I didn't act in the film, it was just a bit role as a dancer. I feel embarrassed when people refer to it as my first Malayalam film. It's not. I consider Sufiyum Sujatayum as my first Malayalam movie and it felt great to work in the movie. So now I've done films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, and Malayalam."
Hydari considers herself lucky to have worked on some great content in many languages, with some incredible directors and actors. Especially with Mani Ratnam, who she considers as her mentor and guru.
"I got into cinema and wanted to be an actor because of Mani Ratnam. Growing up, I had long nurtured a dream to be a Mani Ratnam heroine and be a part of his timeless cinema. I believe, if something like this happens, you really feel that dreams do come true. For me, it was a huge life-changing experience working with Mani Sir. I did two back-to-back films with him. As a director and as a person, he creates such an amazing atmosphere on the sets where he challenges you, but he also allows you to fearlessly explore things while nurturing you. I feel like a sponge on a Mani Ratnam set, where I am just observing and learning."
While content that feature strong women characters has been on an increase of late, Hydari says she doesn't like women-centric films to be branded as a genre. She opines that it doesn't matter if the meaty part goes to the hero or heroine, what matters most is how an actor connects with the audience.
"For me, as a heroine, whether I'm doing a 20-minute role or 2-hour one; whether the film belongs to the hero or it belongs to me or to the both of us or another actor, what is important is how we are connecting to the audience. Will the audience take us home with them in their hearts? That is what matters to me the most and I try to make my decisions and film choices based on that. I try to make an honest decision when choosing my films but sometimes I succumb to greed. The greed of working with a particular director or actor.
Though Hydari's movie journey started in the South Indian film industry in 2006, she also made an impact in Bollywood with award-winning performances in films like Yeh Saali Zindagi and Padmaavat.
"Ultimately one wants to work with certain directors and actors, but at the core, there also has to be an amazing story. The connection with the audience is important. I am lucky to have a choice of a variety of content. Whether it's Hindi, Tamil or Telugu, there are directors writing films for me, there is content being created (for me) even if the film belongs to the hero. Sometimes the director tells me, 'I wrote this part especially for you'. As an artist, we tend to work with people who value us. People from the South offer me lovely work and I would be stupid not to accept those offers."
Not many people are aware that Hydari has an amazing voice. She has sung for AR Rahman live on stage and has crooned two songs for the 2012 film London, Paris, New York. She has also teamed up with Dhanush in the track Kaathodu Kaathanen from the upcoming Tamil film Jail.
"I am not a trained singer, but used to hear my mother singing. She is trained in classical music. I had done a live concert with Rahman sir in the past after which GV Prakash Kumar asked me to sing Kaathodu Kaathanen. Many actors use autotune whenever they sing, but I make sure I don't do that. Dhanush is a lovely singer and he has made Kaathodu Kaathanen sound cool. I'm happy the way it turned out. I am very critical about myself and I am very hard on myself, but I feel the song has turned out well.
Directed by Naranippuzha Shanavas, Sufiyum Sujatayum is currently screening on Amazon Prime Video.
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