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
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.
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