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Mani Ratnam’s Next Star: Aditi Rao Hydari


Mani Ratnam is one of those rare directors who never believed in the term ‘damsel in distress’. His leading women have always been individualistic, headstrong, and determined; but also graceful, poised, and mischievous. She wouldn’t be the ideal woman, but she would be undoubtedly memorable. It’s why being the female lead in his movies was always a bigger deal than being the male lead. That’s certainly the case with Aditi Rao Hydari, the newest addition to a club most actresses would love to be in. Aditi Rao Hydari has just signed to play the female lead in Mani Ratnam’s next film, opposite Karthi. Aditi might be more popular in Bollywood, but her roots are down south.

Aditi Rao Hydari at the Khidkiyan Finale
Aditi Rao Hydari at the Khidkiyan Finale

Aditi Rao Hydari was born on October 28 1986, into two royal lineages. Her paternal ancestor Sir Akbar Hydari, was Nizam of Hyderabad’s prime minister, and her maternal grandfather, J Rameshwar Rao, was the Raja of Wanaparthy. Even though her parents separated when she was only two years old, she decided to keep both their names. Aditi grew up in Delhi with her mother, and learned Bharatnatyam from the notable artiste and former Kalakshetra director, Leela Samson. Leela Samson has held the position of Chariman of CFBC until 2015. She was also seen acting in a prominent role in Mani Ratnam’s Oh Kadhal Kanmani last year. Her skill as a dancer brought her attention even while at school, in Rishi Valley in Andhra Pradesh. She played a small role as a child in Muzaffar Ali’s unreleased film Zooni.




sringaramnew07In 2006, social activist Sharadha Ramanathan, impressed by Aditi’s performance at a concert, cast her in Sringaram , a film about Bharatnatyam. In her debut film, Aditi played the role of a young Dasi (Temple dancer) in the 1920s and also the role of her daughter, also a Bharatnatyam dancer. The film saw her sharing screen space with actors like Manoj K Jayan, Y Gee Mahendran. The film released in 2007 and garnered critically acclaim. Apart from screenings in many film festivals, Sringaram also won three National Awards–for music (Lalgudi Jayaraman), cinematography (Madhu Ambat), and choreography (Saroj Khan).

Kamavalli and Madhura, dance in freedom.
A still from Sringaram (2007)

Though her debut was Sringaram, Aditi’s first theatrical release was Malayalam film Prajapathi in 2006. She played the female lead opposite Mammootty in the film.

In 2009, she played a role in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi-6. Though her role was limited, her outstanding performance led to a lead role in Sudhir Mishra’s romantiic thriller Yeh Saali Zindagi (2009).

After that, there was no looking back. She went on to act in films like Rockstar (2011), Murder 3 (2013), Boss (2013), Wazir (2016), and Fitoor (2016).

Aditi Rao Hydari at the Radio Mirchi Awards
Aditi Rao Hydari at the Radio Mirchi Awards

Aditi is also known for her sense of fashion. She routinely features in lists cataloguing the ‘Best Dressed’ celebrities. Her next release will be Sudhir Mishra’s Aur Devdas, a political thriller with characters similar to Devdas. Aditi plays the role of Chandramukhi. 

According to sources, Mani Ratnam’s film has been titled ‘Kurudhi Pookal’, and will be a romantic thriller. It will be interesting to see what role the master director will have for this talented danseuse and actress, who will be returning to the language in which her film journey started.


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