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Home»Interview»Exclusive! Aditi Gautam: Director Maruthi gave a lot of freedom to play my role in Pakka Commercial, it was a fun ride»

Exclusive! Aditi Gautam: Director Maruthi gave a lot of freedom to play my role in Pakka Commercial, it was a fun ride

Ahead of the OTT premiere of her Telugu film Pakka Commercial, Aditi Gautam talks about handling comedy for the first time in her career, staying relevant in the industry for over a decade and grappling with its changes

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 04.01 PM, Aug 03, 2022

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Exclusive! Aditi Gautam: Director Maruthi gave a lot of freedom to play my role in Pakka Commercial, it was a fun ride
Aditi Gautam

Aditi Gautam made several heads turn with her tinsel town debut Neninthe in 2008 and navigated through the highs and lows of the industry with self-belief and conviction, despite destiny not going her way on occasions. With critically acclaimed and successful films like Vedam and Sanju, Aditi got the facelift she immensely deserved. Aditi waited for the right opportunities without being greedy and it's perhaps this clarity that has always kept her in the hunt. It eventually also brought her back to Telugu cinema again with the Maruthi directorial Pakka Commercial. 

Ahead of Pakka Commercial's OTT premiere on aha and Netflix on August 5, in a chat with OTTplay.com, Aditi reminisces about her early years in the industry, what kept her sane amidst the chaos, her weight-loss journey, social media presence and a lot more. 

You celebrated your birthday recently and you're also close to entering your 15th year in the industry. Do you feel a lot wiser and mature? What has helped you weather all the storms?

Birthdays are very special, I generally go big about such days. I always feel I had another year to learn and evolve in life. Whenever I look back, I feel proud of myself and think that I've come a long way personally. Only a 'never say die attitude' can help you go a long way in showbiz. You know you shouldn't react extremely to success or failure - that should be on your mind constantly while you're in the industry.

It's also a good time to look back at your debut, Neninthe. What were your earliest memories about the film?

I had actually signed three movies before Neninthe but none of them materialised. I was very young and came to the meeting for Neninthe in Hyderabad with little hope. I was unsure if this would take off either. Only a few days before the first schedule, did I realise that my film debut was happening for real!

The film didn't do too well commercially. Did that take a toll on you personally?

The box office response for Nenithe wasn't great and it was disheartening then. However, to date, when I meet anyone associated with the industry, they only have to say good things about it and also that they have watched it over 20 times. The fact that people continue to remember the movie even now is very overwhelming.

Neninthe holds a mirror to everyday realities and unpredictability of the industry. Did you relate to the film as an industry person?

I think I've been lucky to get a lot of work right during college though I'm aware of the uncertainties here. I find surviving in the industry with the highs and lows to be a challenge but even the biggest of stars go through that. Not every film that you do will succeed. You need to go through trolls, expectations from fans, fail and rise. In comparison to Nenithe, the functioning of the industry is a lot more different these days. There's the digital market now and stars connect to fans with social media. It has worked out much better for everybody. There are more opportunities for everyone.

Have the life experiences over this decade been of help as an actor?

Every film helps you evolve into a better actor. When you go through a series of lows and highs regularly in the industry, you realise it is temporary and shouldn't bother you much. As life goes on, you can emote better because of your experiences, and what you observe from people. Every year I grow better as an actor because of this. 

How do you believe in yourself when you don't have enough work on the table? Enough people are waiting to pounce upon your insecurities here...

I don't think these challenges are limited to my industry alone, everyone around us goes through it in some form. You should push yourself as much as you can and be consistent with your lifestyle. Be stable, do yoga, meditate and they give you a positive start to the day and the belief that you could carry the vibe along. 

Going by your social media posts, it's evident that you enjoyed the promotional campaign for your comeback film in Telugu in Pakka Commercial - the trailer launch event, the pre-release function et al..

Pakka Commercial was the first time that I was part of a pre-release event in my career. I had no experience of it earlier. Even with Sanju, there was no such promotional event of this scale. I enjoyed it to the T, interacting with the audience and the entire cast of the film. When the entire team comes under one roof for an event, the unity is so beautiful. I believe Bollywood should start doing it too.  

After a series of heavy, intense roles, it's good to see you in a fun-outing like Pakka Commercial.

This is the first light-hearted film in my career. All along, I've only gotten serious roles. I had so much fun being on the set of a comedy-drama. Maruthi sir always explained a scene and gave me the freedom to perform it my way. I think it's a brilliant quality one should have as a director. He allows you to go the extra mile and be the actor you can be. It made the entire shoot a fun ride. The film had a terrific lineup of actors including Satyaraj, Rao Ramesh and Gopichand. Rao Ramesh garu, in particular, has great comic timing. I've never met anybody as humble as Gopichand in my life and he was so nice to work with. We were like a team working together. 

You're a natural with your social media presence. You'd been into vlogs as early as 2015.

As a person, I love social media and I didn't plan my presence deliberately. I genuinely love being on Instagram and enjoy sharing tidbits from my life with followers. I like Youtube videos because I get to share who I am personally. Actors always have an image and you generally don't know what's happening behind them. A vlog is a very cute way of connecting with an audience and letting them see what you're really about. I know many people who treat their social media presence like a chore and create content but I've been on it because I always enjoyed it. It has come to me very effortlessly. There's a direct connection with people and you genuinely know what people think about you - both the good and the bad. 

You're in a profession where people judge you for your looks constantly. Your recent video about your weight-loss journey suggests you didn't have it easy either.

It was mentally exhausting and I wouldn't deny that. I have gone through a phase where I felt I'd grown big and people were reminding me about that constantly. It comes to a point where you accept your body the way it is. When I started my career, the definition of beauty was size zero. Even if I hadn't lost weight now, it's a phase where the industry is more accepting of all body types. There is work for everyone. It's a beautiful change. Plus size clothing has very much become a norm today. I lost weight because I wanted to be healthy and it was not out of pressure. If I had to fall for pressure, I should have done it many years ago.

There has been a sea change in the functioning of the industry, in comparison to the times you've entered the profession. How do you react to this corporate structure, PR machinery, social media management and everything that comes with it?

I think you should always go ahead with the times. I don't think there's anything wrong with it and I have begun to enjoy it. The system has become very professional now. There's a person dedicated to a particular role - from personal managers to social media managers to PRs and stylists. You have different persons to delegate work to and it's happening very professionally. Earlier, one person was trying to manage everything. The better part was the fact there was only one go-to person before and you can call them to get any work done. Now, you've to call a specific team instead. Everything has its pros and cons.

(Pakka Commercial streams on aha and Netflix on August 5)

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