From a snooty Shanaya in 'Student of the Year' to a demure Veera Tripathi in 'Highway', Alia Bhatt has certainly got to experience the extremes. Self-obsessed for obvious reasons, Alia comes across as this cute little star kid who comes with no baggage and is yet to experience the the little nuances of the filmy world. But having made a successful start already, only sky is the limit for her.
Here's the star kid in a candid conversation with itimes, as she talks about films, family and professional rivalry.
How is it being the youngest star in Bollywood and being talked about on the same page as other established and upcoming stars?
I don't see myself on the same page. I want to have my own page. Constantly thinking of who is where and what they are doing is not something I am here for. People say it is like a rat race but I am not here to run a race. I am here to do good work, be very successful, be loved and that's all. I am not here to compete with one particular person.
Do you agree that the fresh lot of stars have been lucky with big banners, successful debuts and didn't have to go through a series of flops?
Well if you see, most of us are one or two films old. At least for me, people have spoken too soon. I think it's not right to judge me so early. And literally I am so new... just one film old, that's like barely anything. Series of flops happen after sometime. Also, earlier people used to do more than one film at a time, which is not the case now.
So was SOTY perfect launch pad or could there have been something bigger, better and more substantial?
No... No... No. I couldn't have been luckier than this. 'Student of the Year' was the perfect start. I couldn't have had a better launch than that.
Do you regret not making a debut under your dad's production banner?
I never wanted to make a debut under my dad's production. That NEVER was the plan because then it would have come easy to me. I wouldn't have to really put any efforts or face auditions. I know even today many people don't believe me and they think it is because of my father that I got 'Student of the Year' but that's not true. I know for a fact that I auditioned among many girls and I was chosen, shortlisted and meant to look right for the part.
Out of the movies that your dad has made - which one you would have loved to act in?
I don't think I can relate to any of the characters that have been there in my dad's film. But I would really love to do a film like 'Dil hai Ki Maanta Nahi' because that is one of my favourite films.
Would you act in the kind of movies that your father makes that are considered to be 'bolder' cinema?
I am opposed to this word called 'bold' cinema. What is BOLD? Kissing? I have done that. Love making on screen? That also I have done. So comfort zone can be subjective. Like dancing on fast beats when you are not comfortable can be stepping out of the comfort zone, so there are many things other than kissing and lovemaking. And as an actor, you do get out of your comfort zone because that is where magic happens. Of course there are certain kinds of things that I won't do because I won't be able to give my 100% but other than that I am PERFECTLY okay.
How is your relation with your dad? Is he your go-to person for everything in life?
No, I don't seek his advice for what films I should do or I should not do. I would not sit him down and ask him. Though he is constantly giving me advice that I really value and follow... most of the times. But other than that, we haven't really worked together yet, so I have not got any tips on acting. He observes and understands me, for instance if I come home in a bad mood and don't wish to talk to anyone; he understands that more than anybody else in the house. So that really helps me. We have developed a certain relationship since I have started working, even better relationship.
And how's your equation with Pooja Bhatt? Did she give you any tips while you were starting your career? Do you look up to her in any aspect?
Pooja is a really strong woman, so I look up to her in that sense because she is not afraid to speak her mind but that's a very prominent trait in all of us in the family. She (Pooja Bhatt) is very out there and she is very BOLD. She has got this little certain idea that she does not want me to get lost in the crowd. She has a problem when I am dieting or I am trying to be too skinny. She thinks I should be myself as a person. But the person whom I do take a lot of advice from is my older sister Shaheen. She is somebody who I would ask questions to, who suggest things to me. I discussed about 'Highway' also with her and going by the excitement on my face, she figured that it was a good film. Shaheen is the most understanding person in the family, for me.
You consider Parineeti as your biggest competition - is there any professional rivalry going on between the two of you?
No yaar. Parineeti or even Shradha, whoever is in the contemporary league - all of them would be my competitors nah. It is not like ONE particular person. I know her very well so I don't have to justify whatever I have said to anybody because she knows exactly how I feel. There is no rivalry. But sad to see how it gets blown out of proportion. Seems people have nothing to write about right now, maybe that's why so they are trying to pitch us against each other.
You stated that Aishwarya Rai is the real superstar. What makes you say so?
I never said so. It's again misquoted. Somebody asked me that other than Kareena Kapoor who else I thought was a superstar, so I took Aishwarya's name. There is no ranking of actors, and everybody is awesome in their own way. As for Ash, I love looking at her dancing. She is so effortless, catches all beats and sings like it's her song. I find that very interesting.
Do you idolise Kareena Kapoor?
No. I am a fan of hers. She has done a lot of different films and she is constantly alive and spunky and those are the qualities that I like.
People even compare you with Kareena Kapoor, saying that you're younger version of Bebo. How do you react to such comparisons?
Of course I get flattered because it is a big thing when you are compared to somebody who you are very fond of. But I don't think it's true and I don't think it's even possible - not for me, not for anybody.
Talking about your latest release 'Highway', how was the journey for you?
It was a journey that I have never taken before. We took the non-tourist route and went to some isolated and unusual places that you would never go to when otherwise while holidaying. Also the journey for the character is very eventful... not that it has some drama going on constantly, but going through things that she is not comfortable with. To experience all that was very different and very interesting too. I learnt a lot about myself, my country, places, people and of course food... courtesy Imtiaz. So it was one complete journey.
What do you have to say about your unconventional look in Highway?
Every character is obviously going to be different. Hopefully I would not get stuck in once particular space. So this was another character for me and I was not anxious or worried about not having makeup on me. I did not even think about it. Now when I am asked this question, I get confused that what is the big deal. I was required to be as simple and raw as possible - that's about it.
Do you consider yourself lucky that you got to play extreme versatile roles in your first two films itself?
Yes, I am lucky... very lucky. Even the other films that I am doing are very different from each other. So honestly I am very happy with the films that have come my way. I am very grateful. I feel I won't get stuck. If I do, it would be my bad luck.
How is Imtiaz Ali as a director?
Before the shooting for 'Highway' started, Imtiaz would read a lot to me and that was a new experience. I didn't do that for 'Student of the Year' and neither for my upcoming film '2 States'. Imtiaz would just read and talk to me and it did help. Even before every scene was shot, we would have a little conversation and those few words, he would tell me, just pushed me further to give my best in the shot. Every actor wishes to work with Imtiaz at some point of time and I am so lucky to have got this chance so early in my career.
And what about Randeep Hooda as a co-star? Was it easy working with a much-older actor?
Age is just a number, I feel. Also for 'Highway', our characters are supposed to be poles apart. So if it looks unusual, it is a good thing. As for Randeep, he is very cooperative. Very giving, always in character and always helping you.
Any other senior male actor you want to romance on screen and why?
I want to work with everybody. There is not one particular person that I dream about romancing on screen.
One filmmaker you wish to work with?
I really want to work with Raju Hirani.
Describe Alia Bhatt as a person behind the cameras...
A lot of what you see on Highway is a lot of me. As a person, I don't know how to describe myself...