Cover Story

Highway to Punjab

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STAR KIDS ARE ONE TOO MANY IN TINSEL TOWN and they all come with plenty of hype and buzz surrounding them; while some fail to fulfill their so-called destiny, some leave a mark, instantly endearing themselves with the audience and a promise to do justice to their illustrious lineage. One girl that fits this mantle is undoubtedly Alia Bhatt, the daughter of one of the most creative and prolific film personalities, Mahesh Bhatt.

Just like her father has enjoyed immense success from the masses and the classes, Alia too, in a very short span of time, has won accolades from both quarters of the industry. An idol for young divas and fashionistas and a heartthrob for boys, Alia certainly has no dearth of fans and admirers.

NEVER WANTING A LAUNCH PAD HELMED by her director/Producer father, she actually auditioned with 500 other odd girls for Karan Johar’s Student of The Year and this landed her a dream debut in the industry by Dharma Productions; the power production house known to churn out blockbusters with finesse, style and no expenses spared, something to what every newcomer aspires. The film was a major hit and a runaway success and Alia was an instant hit with moviegoers who sat up and took note of her pretty perky looks, natural charm and undeniable on-screen presence.

AS GLOSSY AND GLAMOROUS AS HER LAUNCH WAS, a determined and talented actor like her wanted something meatier and more substantial to satisfy her creative appetite and she got what she wanted with Imtiaz Ali’s road film Highway opposite Randeep Hooda. Her portrayal of a lonely teenage girl who develops “Stockholm Syndrome” after being abducted was an absolute treat to watch. Alia delivered an earnest and uninhibited performance, surrendering herself completely to the nuances of her troubled and complex character. To take on such an emotionally invested and de-glammed role right after SOTY, showed maturity and conviction in her abilities. Her fresh look, sans make-up made her portrayal all the more believable and added that authenticity that’s a pre-requisite for a sensitive and mature performance. She wowed everyone as a natural in front of the camera and her acting prowess resulted in her winning the Filmfare Best Actress Critics Award.

SHE FURTHER CEMENTED HER PLACE AMONG THE TOP CROP OF FEMALE ACTORS by following with two more stellar performances in the same year. Firstly in Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala’s joint production 2 States, and then in the romantic comedy Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, again a K-Jo production. In the former, Bhatt starred opposite Arjun Kapoor and played an independent and modern Tamil girl; a role she made her own through an effortless performance and even learnt the Tamil language to bring credibility to her character. She emerged as the box office darling with the film being a top-grossing production, earning over US$25 million worldwide.

In Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Alia portrayed a Punjabi girl who engages in a romantic affair with a stranger a few days prior to her wedding, costarring Varun Dhawan. The film was a commercial success and Alia was being touted as one of the most promising new actors in Hindi films.

For one so young and to have taken on such a variety of roles, enacted impeccably and convincingly, is surely a feat. Her repertoire belies her young age and years in Bollywood. She has an honest almost raw quality about her work while her looks make her a conventional beauty- a winning combo all the way!

This seamless flow between commercial and more serious, meaningful cinema with power-packed performances has been the highlight of her short but very successful career so far. In just a quick span of four years, she has made a strong impression on the masses and the critics alike. She’s beautiful but her work makes you notice her beyond the obvious as she goes on to state “Though I am very young, I don’t want to be typecast, because I am not just a baby doll. I am okay with that image but I want to fit into any role.” And she has certainly proved this thus far with sheer talent and style.

She’s committed, focused and passionate about her work and that keeps her grounded. Known to have had weight issues that led her to lose 16 kilos in just three months before her debut, shows immense dedication on her part. “I have to work very hard to look a certain way, and I am still getting there”

“Currently, many actresses are better lookers and performers than I am. And that motivates me to work harder.”

A Perfectionist and ambition-driven, she’s got a firm head on her shoulders and realizes that nothing comes easy. To be aware of your realities and let that sensibility reflect through one’s work is something Alia has achieved remarkably so far.

Her most recent hit has been Dharma Productions’ Kapoor & Sons, a beautiful family drama, packed with emotions, romance and comedy that showcased Alia as a lively and sensitive urbane girl. Here again she showed her ability to emote effortlessly, with her signature charm and comfort in front of the camera.

Her upcoming film is Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, a thriller on substance abuse and the on-going drug menace in the Indian state of Punjab that co-stars Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. Alia plays a Bihari migrant who has a substance abuse problem. Going by the trailer Alia looks set to deliver another emotionally-charged and compelling performance. The music too of Udta Punjab is unique with all the songs having a heavy Punjabi intonation.

THE GLITZ AND GLAM WORLD OF TINSEL TOWN can blind anyone, especially when fame and fortune smile upon you as they do on Alia, but to not get swayed and manage to look beyond the superficiality with professionalism and modesty is what Alia Bhatt is about.

SOCIAL MEDIA WENT VIRAL AND SHE BECAME THE BUTT OF ALL JOKES following her appearance on Karan Johar’s talk show, “Koffee with Karan” with jokes about her ‘intellect’ but she handled it all in good humor. She took the remarks on her in her stride by making a self-deprecating and humorous video “Alia Bhatt- genius of the year” which was loved by peers and fans alike.

“I am the first person to laugh at myself… Basically there are these Twitter and Facebook jokes on me, because I am apparently stupid. They are very hilarious.”

She is super-confident and comfortable in her own skin and that is her biggest strength. She has graced the covers of leading show-biz and fashion magazines and is a popular choice for companies for product endorsements and adverts. All the ingredients to being a successful and prolific star personality.

The beauty about Alia’s performances so far has been the ease with she has garnered both commercial success and critical acclaim. Her absolute acceptance as one of Bollywood’s own, amidst so many new-comers eyeing a spot in the limelight, has been earned by her, through her work and not due to her filmi lineage. Her flawless beauty, her spontaneity and pure natural talent promise to take her places in the Hindi film Industry and her fans are only too happy to cheer her along the way.


“I’d like every girl to love herself more than anyone else. That’s the only way they’ll never land up hurting themselves”

“Basically, there are these Twitter and Facebook jokes on me, because I am apparently stupid. They are very hilarious”

“What makes my father different is the fact that he calls himself mad”

“I have watched all SRK films. I am like a crazy fan. I have watched DDLJ and KKHH so many times”

“I know what I want”