The youngest superstar, Alia Bhatt has it all! The actress gets chatty about her life, love and everything else...
Alia Bhatt has it all – the awards, the rewards, the man and a big film. Yet she is remarkably nonchalant about her achievements. In conversation with the girl of the moment…
“RANBIR AND I ARE SIMILAR IN OUR ATTITUDE TO WORK ”
Her petite frame and baby face belie her maturity. Alia Bhatt is undoubtedly one of the most happening Bollywood stars at the moment but there is not even a shade of pretence or arrogance about her. It has been a steady rise ever since she made her debut in Student of the Year six years ago and it only seems to get better. At this moment, especially after her ‘Best Actress’ nod at some of the most important film awards of the season, Alia is on a high. She is much in love with Ranbir Kapoor with whom she shares screen space in Brahmastra, despite occasional reports of trouble in paradise. Then she has the much-talked-about Kalank to look forward to and the recentlyannounced Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed Inshallah with Salman Khan. And then there was Gully Boy where her performance as the spitfire Safeena had critics raving (once again) about her talent. Leaving her contemporaries far behind, Alia has reached a position few others her age has. So what’s her state of mind at the moment?
How does it feel to be Bollywood’s youngest superstar?
I wouldn’t call myself that! But if that’s what you want to call me, I don’t mind (laughs). I am not comfortable being called a star. I think I am an actor first. So I like being referred to as an actor. Fortunately, so far, I have worked with some truly outstanding actors and I’ve learnt from all of them. I really don’t think too much of this ‘superstar’ tag. If I did, I’d probably not do anything else. Basking in what’s already done is not my scene. I’d rather look ahead.
But you have won only praise from all quarters. That surely must be a happy feeling…
I won’t pretend. It does feel good. Happy is too self-limiting a word to describe how I feel. I am grateful. The praise inspires me to do better.
Is it true that you decided to be an actress at the age of three, as Shabana Azmi says?
Yes, I was pretty clear from a very young age about wanting to be an actress. I made it clear to everyone I hung out with when I was a child.
April is another big month for you since you have a release in the multi-starrer Kalank. Did you enjoy the jugalbandi with Madhuri?
Hey, no! There is no jugalbandi as such. I dance in the film but not with Madhuri Ma’m. Am I mad to dance with her in the same frame?
So do we get to see you dancing with the iconic Madhuri Dixit in Kalank at all?
Unfortunately, no. To my good fortune, I don’t have to share the dance floor with Madhuri M’aam! But she’s standing and watching me while I dance. For me, that was a reason to be nervous enough…that she was watching me dance. I’d keep pleading for her to sit in her vanity van. But of course, she had to be present in the scenes. So imagine, I had to dance in front of one of our finest dancers of all times!
Did you have to learn classical dancing from scratch for Kalank?
I am not very confident about my dancing. So I trained for a whole year. I spent a couple of days with Pandit Birju Maharaj learning Kathak and I am really grateful. It gave me a chance to hone my skills as a dancer.
How excited are you about Kalank?
It is my first multi-starrer and the experience was fantastic. In many ways, it was the one of the most challenging films I have done so far. It may be a multi-starrer but there is enough to do for every actor; every character is well-etched. It is a world I am walking into for the first time
- the quintessential Hindi commercial cinema, yet this is a story that has never been told before despite the language being very commercial and mainstream. The characters are contemporary though it’s a period film.
What is like working in your other forthcoming film, Bramhastra?
I’ve always admired the work of Mr Amitabh Bachchan and of course, Ranbir Kapoor. So I look forward to going on the sets of Bramhastra just to watch them both work. Ranbir and I both admire Mr Bachchan greatly. Every time, we finish a shot, we pull up chairs on either side of him just to hear him talk about life and movies.
Your father Mahesh Bhatt must be really proud of you…
Well, yes. He wants to come on the set of Bramhastra just to see his daughter working with Mr Bachchan and Ranbir (smiles).
What about the fact that you get to work with your boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor in Bramhastra?
We don’t take our relationship to the set. Ranbir and I are both very similar in our attitude to our profession. When we are on the set, we are there to work. And our approach to our work is very relaxed. We have no method or process as such. We both go into a scene instinctively. We do our shots, talk, eat… but otherwise, we both like to be left to ourselves while working. I think there’s a certain amount of space actors require on the sets. It was the same with Ranveer Singh during Gully Boy.
Is Brahmastra very different from anything you have done before?
Yes. It’s a completely different animal. Or anything the audience has seen before. All of us are super-charged and high on creativity.
Is it scary to consider your next step?
There is always a ‘next’. I remember my father asking the same thing after Imtiaz Ali’s Highway. But the opportunities did come to me. I’d call it luck but I really don’t know what that is. But it’s not as if I have set goals or targets for myself. I find that very boring.
Which has been the most difficult film you’ve done so far?
Udta Punjab. It took me into areas of pain and suffering I never want to
visit again. All of us - Shahid, Kareena, Diljit and I - played characters we had never played before. One of the perks of doing this film was I got to watch Kareena at work. I’ve always admired her. She is an undisputed diva yet so down-to-earth. When she enters a room, it automatically lights up.
Do you still seek Karan Johar’s advice?
Of course, I go to him for advice. But he isn’t the sort of person to stop me from doing anything. Buddy? Nooooo. I think of myself as his daughter.
But you are buddies with your own father…
Yes, of course Mahesh Bhatt is my best friends (laughs). He is my coolest and closest buddy.
And he is also your oldest buddy?
No, the oldest would be my grandfather. I think a lot of aspirations to be an actor came from him. When I was younger, I’d speak to him at least once every day and he’d tell me a story. When I was a child I’d put up a performance for my grandfather, dance to a song and he’d applaud. So he was my first spectator. I don’t get to see my Nana and Nani as much as I’d like. But they make it a point to visit every Sunday.
What do you do with all the money being one of the most successful actresses of the country?
I don’t even think about it. I just do the work that pleases me. I don’t have to work to put the food on my table. But now I’ve bought my own house with my own money. It’s a big thing for me.
Recently you were in the news for gifting a house for your staff. Did you always believe in treating them so well?
My staff is essential to my existence. I wouldn’t know what to do without them. They are basically an extension of my personality. I believe the people around you define your personality.
Are you satisfied with the progress you’ve made as an actor?
(Thinks for a while) Yes, I am. I feel I am learning. Earlier, I used to be restless. Now I am calmer though very passionate about my work. I know I am here for the long run. I don’t want to do too many films and have people get bored of me. I just want to make the audience happy. The only way to do that is to do challenging roles.
Do you see yourself feeling the same 10 years from now?
I don’t think that far ahead. I don’t even internalise the present too much. People ask what I feel about achieving so much at such a young age. But I don’t think about it. Even now when people invade my privacy, poke and annoy, I don’t lose my cool.
Have you ever lost your cool in public?
No. I have a fierce temper. I wouldn’t like to lose it in public. Because things get really out of hand when I am angry.
So what comes next for Alia Bhatt?
I want to keep trying new things. I want to do an out-and-out comedy.… slipping on banana peels, cake on my face and the works…
From Student Of The Year to Insha Allah, don’t you think everything is happening too fast for you?
Yeah, sometimes I wish things would slow down a bit. I don’t want to burn myself out. But I am an opportunity-grabber. And when I am getting all these opportunities now why should I let them go? Who knows what will happen later!
“OF COURSE, I GO TO KARAN JOHAR FOR ADVICE”