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Aditi Rao Hydari on independent music: ‘If my voice is auto-tuned, I feel like I’ve cheated’


Aditi Rao Hydari in Coke Studio Tamil’s latest track
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Before the Tamil film Katru Veliyidai hit screens in 2017, there was a lot of talk about its female protagonist Aditi Rao Hydari. Not just because of how she looks or the fact that she was cast in an important Mani Ratnam film, but also due to how she attracted crowds with her voice. During the promotion of the film, she would break impromptu into the melodious ‘Vaan Varuvaan’ number, leaving quite an impression.

Cut to 2023, and Aditi Rao Hydari — apart from acting in a handful of films in various languages — is also turning heads with her music. Her latest outing as a singer, the techno-pop track ‘Please Purinjukko’, saw her teaming up with composer Sean Roldan and lyricist Vignesh Shivan for Coke Studio Tamil Season 2.

‘Please Purinjukko’, which mirrors the nature of relationships in today’s fast-paced world, marks Aditi’s foray into the independent music space. “When I go in to sing, I have only one request: I don’t want to be auto-tuned. I want whoever is making me sing to be happy with my delivery. I have grown up with so much good music that I feel I have cheated if my voice has to undergo an auto-tune process. The biggest compliment for ‘Please Purinjukko’ was Sean telling me that he didn’t have to use auto-tune for my vocals,” she says.

She first heard the scratch track, something she is not usually used to. “But even at that stage, there was an earworm quality about it.”

Aditi is batting big for composers dabbling in independent projects, a trend that has picked up in good measure in recent times. Explains Aditi, “Quite often, a composer cannot express a lot of their musicality in their mainstream film work. In those instances, independent music helps them express that. I love the song and dance and mainstream cinema, but when I want to express something I feel very passionate about, there’s always short videos or short films I can attempt. Similarly, independent music offers that platform for composers.”

Aditi Rao Hydari and Sean Roldan

Aditi Rao Hydari and Sean Roldan

Sean roped in Siddharth to croon a number in Tamil film Lover and has worked with Aditi in ‘Please Purinjukko’. Does actors lending their voice to a project add value to it? “A lot of our greatest actors can sing and dance, and every scene requires some kind of musicality. There is no story or film, especially in India, without a situation being expressed through music or dance. It is important that actors are complete that way. Having said that, it is not about actors massaging their ego; it’s about adding value to the film,” says Aditi.

When Aditi got into movies, her dream was to work with Mani Ratnam and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Mani roped her in in 2017 and Bhansali has cast her in upcoming web-series Heeramandi. “Heeramandi is a period piece that I’m thrilled about. It’s a dream come true for me to be working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and you will know more about this project soon,” she says.

Aditi also has director Kishore Belekar’s Gandhi Talks, a silent film that also stars Vijay Sethupathi, and director Rajesh Selva’s Tamil film, a thriller based on a female protagonist. She is looking forward to starting work on her Indo-UK co-production Lioness, directed by Kajri Babbar. “It’s about two women, two centuries apart and how their lives impact each other. I try to keep my work as exciting as possible.”

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