Alia has the emotional intelligence to get other peoples' lives: Soni Razdan
Alia's mother Soni Razdan says that the Udta Punjab actress' struggle in the film industry keeps evolving.
When Alia Bhatt was 17, she miraculously got an offer from one of the biggest filmmakers, Karan Johar, and simply breezed her way through Student of The Year. When her mom, Soni Razdan was 17, she was attending classes in a Birmingham theatre school while applying for a drama school in London which cost 700 pounds a year. Razdan shares her incredible journey to London with no money to pay her fees, and her stay in a hostel infested with rats in her recent blog, sonispeak.wordpress.com.
We meet to discuss her blog (she dismisses it as "random"), and of course, Alia’s power packed performance in Udta Punjab. Forgetting her own noticeable television debut in Buniyaad, 28 years ago, she shrugs away all credit; her effervescent energy infectious and charming.
What made you start your blog?
I had no intention of starting it ever. I was just sitting, faffing. For some reason I felt like writing a poem. I started writing about Malala. I just wanted to share it on Twitter, so putting it up on a blog was the only way. Later while researching a film character, I came across an article on the urban poor. I thought, what if I link today’s generation of the urban poor and what I went through when I was 17. I just started writing. It was quite random. It’s not like, oh I must write a blog..I have so much to say and all that rubbish.. The response was so overwhelming. I am really not a blog person. I have other ambitions which I am working on.
I am working on a film called Love Affair which I am directing. Also, I have written a film and am writing another one. I didn’t act for a while because I was busy with all this. Now I am very open to everything. I may write a book too. I feel like I am in the middle of a tennis court and balls are being thrown at me and I am deciding whether I want to throw them back or not. (laughs)
Plus I have a hectic family life and varied interests.
What’s a regular day with family like?
Now it’s quite hectic, like running a hotel, to put it mildly. Both daughters are at home and I used to wait… oh God, when are they going to leave. Now that they are moving out, I am quite devastated. Alia has bought a place and she is quite young and not ready to be on her own. She needs a lot of space for her work and as an actor. The sisters are close, so it's best they stay together at the moment. I am making the most of the time now to enjoy the last few months they are with me physically.
At 17, you were starting your own journey. How do you compare it with Alia’s today?
Yes, I started from nowhere to nowhere. My father was an architect and my mother was a teacher. We had no connection with movies. Alia came from a different space. Very luckily for her, at the beginning of a career she got an incredible offer; while I had to make my presence felt in the world from nowhere. When Alia read my blog, she said ‘I wish I had that kind of struggle’. I said ‘Why’? She said, ‘That gives you more experience of life’. I said ‘You can get experience in different ways, you don’t have to starve and struggle so much in order to understand human suffering’. Which is very evident from her performance in Udta Punjab. I don’t even know where that has come from. She has no connection to a character like that, or a life like that. Comparatively, she has had a life of privilege. That proves you don’t need to have that kind of struggle. So I told her ‘You have struggled in different ways. Frankly I would rather have struggled like you than like I did’. But having said that, struggle is struggle. It’s your kismet. Alia has the emotional intelligence to get other peoples' lives, very intuitively. That’s a gift she has.
Where do you think Alia’s struggle lies?
Her struggle keeps evolving. Having done the kind of work, she has to do more of that and yet remain fresh and find roles that challenge. It’s quite tough. To even stay in the same place, you have to keep moving very fast in this business.
Does she have your determination evident in your blog?
Definitely. She is not complacent as a person. It’s easy to be stereotyped as the bubbly girl and ‘cool’ chick and she has actually avoided that, to her credit. That’s the reason she is where she is today. Probably, she followed her heart.
Yes, she is setting a separate path unlike any.
It’s happening organically. She is a normal kid. You don’t look at her and think ‘Oh God is mein bahut potential hai (Oh God, there is a lot of potential in her). I find that interesting about her — most mysterious…where the hell did all this (in Udta Punjab) come from? We didn’t send her to a village for three months for sure.
Any plans of directing a film with her?
Not at the moment. Let her make her own path. I still have to find my own voice.
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