MAKE WAY FOR ALLA BHATT
She hates people with an attitude and says her biggest flaw is that she talks too much. Introducing, Cosmo’s youngest cover girl and Bollywood’s hottest new debutante!
At all of 19 years, Bollywood’s latest entrant Alia Bhatt has a lot to be proud of. Not because she can boast of a celebrity gene in her body (she is director Mahesh Bhatt’s daughter), not even because she’s making major headlines as the new face of the industry, but because she achieved it all on her own, picked from over 500 other contenders. “Karan heard about me through our dialougue writer Niranjan Iyengar, and I came in through the normal process,” says Alia, when I ask her how it all happened. “I auditioned for the role, was shortlisted, and Karan saw something in me that he liked!”
Alia Bhatt’s debut movie, Student Of The Year, might be the first time director Karan Johar stepped into unfamiliar reign by casting only fresh faces (the film also stars newcomers Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra alongside Alia), but it didn’t mean he would compromise on the magnitude of his style of cinema. “I’d never imagined that I’d get to do my first film with Karan Johar—it was a big deal for me! And even though he didn’t have a big name in his movie, he never compromised on the film...he went all out and made it like he would make it with other stars. Karan put in a lot of faith in all of us and that made us feel confident about ourselves.”
As Alia reveals, she is a girl who always had her priorities set in life, right from the word go. “Ever since I was four, I wanted to be in front of the camera,” she says softly. Cliché, you’d say, considering she comes from a family of actors, directors and producers. But her dream had less to do with her lineage, more with her liking the idea of getting to wear so many
The only preparation I did for the role of Shanaya was to learn how to walk in heels. I’d walk around wearing heels all the time.
different clothes. “I was fascinated with movies,” she exclaims. “I loved how one minute actors would be dancing in a garden, and in the very next shot, they’d be on the road and then somewhere else, changing quickly for every sequence, wearing interesting and colourful clothes all the time.” It took her big break to figure out that there was much more to acting than fabulous clothes; including having to lose 16 kilos for her role (“Karan thought I was a bit overweight for the part”) and learning to walk in high heels. “The only actual preparation I did for the role of Shanaya was to learn how to walk in heels. I’d walk around wearing heels all the time. The whole process of acting in this film was my preparation, because I’d never had any acting formal training before.”
“The weight loss was the tedious task actually,” she continues. “I just had to lose weight, so I went on a very strict diet for three months. It was a long process, but it was worth it. I knew that I had to give it my all, and I did.”
Growing up, Alia was never made to feel as if she belonged to a family of celebrities, and admits to have had a very normal upbringing. “I was so involved with my school life that I never got to know anything. I used to get up, get ready, take the rickshaw, walk back home…it was nothing out of the ordinary. There was no special treatment that was given to me.” And have things changed now, post the movie? “Not at all,” she laughs. “I’ll be kicked out of the house if I expect any celebrity treatment. I’m not a celebrity at all. I’m just an actor and performer. A celebrity and a star is what the audience makes you. At home, I’m just the youngest person in this house, and that’s what I’m treated like.”
It is this down-to-earth attitude that becomes Alia’s defining quality. Apart from the long list that she gives me when I ask her to define herself, that is. “I’m a very sensitive person, and very emotional. I’m also very moody and like being by myself more than being around people. I don’t know where I developed this characteristic from, but once I do get to know somebody, I’m all friendly and chirpy and happy,” she says, all in one breath. She notices that I’m struggling a little to catch up, and laughs, “And see...this is my worst habit. I talk too
fast! Most of the time I stammer and stutter because there are so many things I’m thinking in my head. I just have too much to say at one time. I’m also very clumsy. I keep falling ill and falling down, and that irritates me a whole lot. These are my biggest flaws.”
Given her ‘grown-up success’ and a sense of levelheadedness she exudes, it can be easy to forget that she is still a teenager. But she is just 19, and I wonder whether she minds not doing the things friends her age are (“I’m doing something I always wanted to do, so the other things don’t really matter”) or that her wardrobe doesn’t boast of luxury designer labels yet (“I believe I should wear a branded item only when I can afford it myself”). And does this maturity extend to her personal life as well (she does admit she has “the biggest crush on Ranbir Kapoor, especially after Barfi!”)
“Of course, I’m a very romantic person,” she says, sounding like a schoolgirl for the very first time during our interview. “I want a boy who is madly in love with me... loves me more than I love him and who’s also my best friend. But sadly, there is no such person available at the moment. Till then, I’ll just have to keep looking.”
Embossed leather jacket, and double panel leather pants, both Zara; lace-up shoes, Emporio
Embellished dress, Giorgio Armani; lace stockings, Zara; pumps, Clarks