MIX­ING FASH­ION WITH A GOOD CAUSE

Alia Bhatt, whose eco­log­i­cal ini­tia­tive, Co­Ex­ist par­tic­i­pates in a denim do­na­tion drive, feels ev­ery­one is “ex­tremely kind­hearted” when it comes to do­na­tions

HT Cafe - - Front Page - Prashant Singh prashant.singh@hin­dus­tan­times.com

For the past sev­eral weeks, she has been away from the lime­light since Alia Bhatt has been qui­etly shoot­ing for her next project, Raazi in Pa­tiala, Pun­jab. “The shoot has been quite hec­tic but it is going very well,” says the ac­tor, as she talks about her eco­log­i­cal ini­tia­tive, Co­Ex­ist’s denim do­na­tion drive across al­most 20 cities such as Ban­ga­lore, Chandi­garh, Delhi, Kan­pur, Kolkata and Mum­bai, among oth­ers. The 24-year-old ac­tor also calls her out­ing in the Meghna Gulzar film “chal­leng­ing”.

We have heard that you have started a denim do­na­tion drive in al­most 20 cities in In­dia, as part of your Co­Ex­ist cam­paign for the wel­fare of street dogs and cats?

I have al­ways wanted to mix fash­ion with a good cause. Fash­ion is very re­lat­able and is some­thing that I also un­der­stand well. I feel the same goes for other peo­ple too, who can also re­late to it. Plus, do­na­tion is some­thing that peo­ple are ex­tremely kind-hearted about. But I have re­alised that when you make do­na­tions in kind, the re­sponse is al­ways higher. Plus, for an­i­mals, do­na­tions in kind are very ef­fec­tive. And in this case, it’s Mo­topaws denim do­na­tion drive.

What’s the ba­sic idea be­hind such an ini­tia­tive?

Ev­ery­one has a closet full of den­ims and af­ter a point, ei­ther they don’t fit you or you don’t like them any­more. So, in­stead of throw­ing them away, you can donate them so that dog col­lars can be made out of them.

Talk­ing of an­i­mals, aren’t you miss­ing your pets?

You know, I will be back in Mum­bai only by the end of Septem­ber [af­ter wrap­ping up the shoot]. But, in be­tween, and not many would be­lieve that, but I will be trav­el­ling to the city just to see my cat (Ed­ward) so that I am as­sured that he hasn’t for­got­ten me (laughs). So, af­ter we fin­ish the sched­ule in Pa­tiala, I have a cou­ple of days in hand be­fore I reach Kash­mir, Jammu & Kash­mir [for an­other sched­ule]. So, I will come to Mum­bai; spend a day with my cat and the next day, I will fly to Kash­mir.

Re­ally?

Yes, it is true love, and the only kind of love that I have (laughs). I would call it, ‘one solid re­la­tion­ship.’

Work-wise, how has the Raazi shoot been? Tough?

I won’t lie. Yes, it has been very chal­leng­ing. The shoot­ing [of the film] is still on, and I still have a month left [be­fore its com­ple­tion]. We have been shoot­ing in al­most a non-stop man­ner, bar­ring a few days when the shoot got dis­rupted [due to the re­cent un­rest in the re­gion]. But over­all, it has been a good and an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney — cre­atively as well as men­tally. I am in Pa­tiala right now, and I feel that when you are shoot­ing out­doors, it’s al­ways lovely be­cause you are only with your film ded­i­cat­ing all your en­er­gies and at­ten­tion to it. Plus, it’s lovely be­ing in Pa­tiala.

It has been few months since you started Co­Ex­ist. How has the re­sponse been till now?

It has been slow and steady. But it’s about putting in con­sis­tent work. Right now, my aim is to gain as many fol­low­ers on my Face­book page. I know it sounds very funny as some­one told me, ‘You al­ready have so many fol­low­ers.’ But it’s dif­fer­ent as I’m not talk­ing about my fol­low­ers but Co­Ex­ist’s fol­low­ers. So, my aim is to in­crease the num­ber of views and fol­low­ers; and slowly try to take up dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives that need am­pli­fi­ca­tion.

Any plans to take time out from your sched­ule for the cause?

Of course, I can per­son­ally help too and visit an­i­mal shel­ter homes, which I would re­ally love to do as it’s a dream (smiles). But if I can’t be avail­able phys­i­cally, I can at least be there vir­tu­ally. Also, we have just started out so, it will take some time. But so far, things have been smooth.

With films and other pro­fes­sional as well as per­sonal com­mit­ments, how do you man­age your eco­log­i­cal ini­tia­tive?

That’s why I have a team, and they tell me what ex­actly to do. So, we come up with sev­eral goal plans and de­cide what all we have to do with the rea­sons and pur­poses. So, I share my feel­ings with them and they chalk out things prop­erly for me. In fact, I have also told them, ‘Lis­ten, when I am shoot­ing for my film, I will trans­port my­self into that world. So, you have to con­stantly tell me what I need to post [on so­cial me­dia plat­forms] and do so on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.’ So, they re­mind me re­peat­edly, else I for­get.

And how ex­actly will your denim do­na­tion drive help save dogs?

With one pair of denim, they can make three to four col­lars for dogs. It’s not just about hav­ing a shiny col­lar, it can be a dog’s life­saver. We keep hear­ing about cases of dogs get­ting run over and it’s heart-break­ing. So, it’s a very cool, ef­fec­tive and quick way of spot­ting dogs on the roads. Till date, Mo­topaws has man­aged to col­lar about 8,000 dogs. Imag­ine how many dogs we have all over In­dia?

Do you think such a con­cept will go a long way?

If all of us can donate the den­ims that don’t fit us any­more, it can make such a big dif­fer­ence. That’s the rea­son I chose some­thing like this to be a part of. Peo­ple love to donate, es­pe­cially in kind be­cause not ev­ery­one has the means to donate in cash. But ev­ery­one has a pair of den­ims that they don’t like.

I can per­son­ally help too... But if I can’t be avail­able phys­i­cally, I can at least be there vir­tu­ally. ALIA BHATT, AC­TOR

PHOTO: AB­HAY SINGH

PHOTO: AFP

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