Alia Bhatt: 'It'll be great to work with Ranveer Singh; he'll keep me on my toes'
Alia Bhatt never fails to surprise her audience.
2016 served this young actor quite well as she swept away quite a few major awards for her performances in Udta Punjab and Dear Zindagi, and now the 23-year-old is ready with her next release, an out-and-out commercial mainstream entertainer — Badrinath Ki Dulhania. This is the second installment in the Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania franchise, and it sees her team up with Varun Dhawan for the third time.
Both Varun and Alia come from film families and hence there is "a certain unison of thoughts...just that I don’t understand his brand of comedy," Alia says. "I love comedy but I don’t know how to project the way Varun does. In that sense I observe him.”
Besides Badrinath, the actress has her hands full with projects from top banners and opposite the A-listers of Bollywood. She next begins filming for Ayan Mukerji’s Dragon touted as “supernatural sci-fi” and a “modern day romantic fantasy” opposite Ranbir Kapoor. At the end of the year, she'll co-star with Ranveer Singh in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boys. “Both, Zoya and Ayan have split me into half, so there won’t be any date problems!” Alia tells us, giggling.
Is there a conscious attempt on her part at doing different genres of films? Alia quickly responds, “It is an attempt on my part, it is not for the audience. I am not doing it because that is the right thing to do and people will love it, I am doing it because I like it that way. It is not being selfish and I am not strategising but I think like that. I get bored easily. Now I don’t want to do a serious film but I won’t mind doing a biopic which will be a different and have a true story to tell. I want to do a comedy and I am really waiting for somebody to offer me one. I want to satisfy my needs, my craving.”
She further says, “Your first film chooses you and you choose your next film. But it was the reactions to Udta Punjab that encouraged me to take up roles that were risky. Had people not reacted to my part, I would have decided not to do such roles. But I don’t understand why people think it’s such a big risk in first place. It is just a character and when people appreciated it, I was relieved. It gave me the confidence to take up such serious roles in the future.”
With every film Alia has been setting a benchmark, so is there a certain pressure when signing films? “I don’t know how the audience is looking at me, or what they think of me. I am the same person. I am just working. My achievements are the by products of that. I don’t give myself that pressure from a third person’s point of view. I give that pressure to myself from my own point of view. I want to challenge myself. I want to do something different because something is not working for me,” says Alia, mentioning that she is keen to work with Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari. “I really want to work with Nitesh, I loved Dangal. Then, I am dying to work with my 2 States director, Abhishek Varman, again. I need his voice over my head. He kept pushing me. I need someone to tell me that I am bad and the only person to do that, is Abhishek.”
Badrinath is a romance set in the Hindi heartland which is a not-so-common offering from the stables of Karan Johar and his Dharma Productions. In fact, the film’s leading man called it the most “Indian family-friendly” and “non-urbane” film produced by Karan since the latter's 2001 family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Varun has gone on to say that he would have disagreements and arguments with director Shashank Khaitan when he couldn’t relate to the character. However, Alia says that she didn’t face any such problem.
“I didn’t have any argument with Sashank but Varun is someone who keeps having arguments with his director as a good student. I did relate with my character, not totally, but at least with her feelings on what she stood for. My character, Vaidehi is shown to be very ambitious, very correct, who doesn’t want just to be a bride but wants to do other things in life. Varun likes to ask lot of questions. After a long time he is playing a character and that too, a difficult one. Shashank also likes to evolve his characters through his film. He may add something new, change something, he likes doing that,” she explains, further adding, “I play a way more mature character this time, she is not as sweet and naive as Kavya (the character in Humpty Sharma). Kavya’s only dream was that she wanted to wear a designer lehenga, get married and had no other aspiration. Vaidehi is a feminist, she is forward thinking, she doesn’t like it when people take her or her life lightly.”
Coming back to her forthcoming films, Alia is excited about Dragon not just because it’s a sci-fi film — the genre she has been most eager to do — it's also because of the presence of Amitabh Bachchan. “He is fabulous. I hope I have some scenes with him,” she says. Work on Dragon will begin in mid-2017 (once Ranbir wraps up the Sanjay Dutt biopic), and will involve extensive prep. “The direction team will do lots of prep. The actors will also prep up but it is not for the characters, it will be for the world as it is a very new world. There won’t be any requirement to learn any dialect and Ayan has told us that there is just one character in the film, there is no Ranbir and Alia. We are just one character. It is not a typical superhero film — Ranbir won’t be seen wearing red underwear! It is mythological, a sci-fi supernatural film. There will lot of action around me, but I don’t think I will be beating anybody up!” Alia says of the film.
And it is in Zoya’s Gully Boys where Alia will be seen, “(portraying) a raw character”. “It is a very cool character with that Mumbai flavour,” says Alia. Interestingly, with both these films, Alia will be sharing screen space with two diverse personalities, Ranbir and Ranveer. “I haven’t worked with them to know them really well. But I admire Ranveer’s energy. He strictly believes in the philosophy — ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. He will always be in character, never out of it. It will be great to work with his kind of energy, it will keep me on my toes throughout,” signs off Alia, who, post-Badrinath's release, has decided to learn how to play the piano, take kathak lessons and brush up on her culinary skills until her Dragon co-star gets free for the shoot.