The girl with the most spunk

Alia Bhatt Alia Bhatt has effortlessly entrenched herself as the biggest star of her generation

Six years ago, Mahesh Bhatt’s younger daughter made a sparkling debut in Student Of The Year, the film that she says has given her “the most youthful and strongest fan base.” But that is not enough to be an actor worth her salt in Hindi films.

Alia Bhatt, however, was lucky. Films like Highway and Udta Punjab gave her critical appreciation, while her hits Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, 2 States, Kapoor & Sons and Badrinath Ki Dulhania also saw her make a mark as a glamorous star as well as an actor.

Today, Alia has effortlessly entrenched herself as the biggest star of her generation, with the spunk, vivaciousness and X-factor that defines her. Her set of forthcoming assignments (Gully Boy, Brahmastra, Kalank) place her not only comfortably but effortlessly ahead of the other actors of her generation. And then, there is also Raazi, which released recently, to show her mettle.

We get into Raazi headlong and she says, “Raazi is a big opportunity to do something very honest, as it is a real story. In such a case, a sense of responsibility automatically comes, as I have to create a character from scratch, and I have never met the real Sehmat. For me, also, it was about cracking the way she speaks, as that is a very big part of her persona. As a nice human being, from what I was told, she would rank 103 on a scale of zero to 100, so I had to remember that and then take the graph forward.”

Alia’s takeaway from her story was that loving one’s country and feeling patriotic is not enough. “We have to proactively do something, add value, and participate in activities that are not just beneficial to us but to the country. As an artiste and as a person, if I have a certain number of followers on Instagram, I must do something, which is the reason I joined Aamir Khan in his recent move to help farmers better their lives. I think that is very patriotic. As they say, action speaks louder than words.”

What about prepping for such a film? “It was as extensive, but not as intense, as with Udta Punjab. But I also decided to concentrate on technical aspects like grasping the Morse code, driving the Jonga jeep and learning defence matters,” she says.

She admits that she could not relate much to her character. “What Sehmat did for the country is too much of a selfless act, and I can only empathise and understand,” she explains. “At every moment I was shooting, I had to tell myself that though I am acting, this story actually took place. It was scary.”

How was it working with Vicky Kaushal, her co-star? “He is a fabulous actor, and after Masaan, I knew I would love to work with him. His is an essentially silent character, but his silence says a lot. The track I have with him is sacred but complicated, but we pulled it off.”

About director Meghna Gulzar, she raves, “Meghna is the most detailed director with whom I have worked. I just loved her Talvar, and the worlds she creates feel very real, and you are drawn into them. Such films have to be loved and nurtured as they are passionate and intense.”

Though it is not exactly a conscious decision, Alia is happy that she has got varied assignments in her career. “It has happened by default, but I would not like to eat the same dal every day! Now, I have a supernatural fantasy in Brahmastra and an epic drama in Kalank. Gully Boy is a different kind of beautiful film. At the same time, I would like to strike a balance.”

And that balance, Alia says, is about wanting to be a diva, a glamorous face that is at the top of all fashion portals, and also at the top of all national awards, without trying to make a point. “I have no way of knowing how good or bad I will be in any film, but my constant endeavour will be to bring me out from my last bad film, or be better than the last good one.”

How does she look at the role of her parents and sister? And how do they look at her? Her mother, Soni Razdan, is also doing a role in Raazi. “We are all so individualistic in our thoughts and opinions of life, cinema and so on. Mom’s actually doing one more film and a television serial and is thus busier than I am. Pooja (Bhatt) has said that she would love to direct me, and I would love to do her film, and maybe dad (Mahesh Bhatt) could be involved in it too. As for dad directing, you can never say never, for he often says that he is a dormant volcano.”

About her parents’ views on her as an actor, Alia says, “Dad is always saying ‘You are my star, my reason to smile!’ and spoiling me, but it’s all just parental love. He also gives an opinion on my decisions to do films, which are mine alone, both as a parent and a producer — he cannot escape that. My mom is not into much praise, but more into ‘Please rest!’, ‘Please sleep!’ and ‘Please eat!’ I feel embarrassed and get modest on any occasion she praises me.”

Is she content or happy with the way her career has gone? Has she any goals in mind? “Contentment is something very boring, but I have to be satisfied with the task I have completed,” she answers. “And it is better not to set goals, because they can be very limiting. It’s better to be hardworking, relentlessly so, and keep getting better.”

How does she look at the box-office prospects of Raazi? “I am not into figures, but it is important that the money invested comes back to the producers. But I think good films always do well, by which I mean that the people love them, more than just about its business. Like Highway, which was my lowest-grossing film, but also the one that got me, maximum love. And today, content is really king, which can mean different films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Dangal, as well as the smaller, simpler, cuter movies.”

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The girl with the most spunk

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