From Student of The Year to Raazi: How Alia Bhatt became one of Bollywood's most versatile actors
With Raazi, Alia Bhatt reminded film-goers that she currently has no equal in Bollywood and her future is only bound to get brighter.
There is a sequence in Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi where Alia Bhatt is being trained by Jaideep Ahlawat (Hamid Mir in the film) to prepare her for all the eventualities that could befall her during her espionage activities in Pakistan. After committing few errors, she is chided by her mentor. And then, at one point, she finally breaks down. The frustration of committing errors is clear in her facial expressions. The agony that Alia feels in that particular moment is so moving that you feel her pain. There are many such moments in Raazi, which reinforce the a commonly held belief that Alia Bhatt is one of the most courageous actresses — one who's ready to take any challenge head-on. It also reminds film-goers that she currently has no equal in Bollywood and her future is only bound to get brighter.
Alia's journey began as an immature, pugnacious girl in Karan Johar’s Student of The Year. Her role in Raazi only marks the end of a successful phase one of her journey. With Raazi, Alia has raised the bar for herself and fellow actresses as she now enters a different trajectory. Her choice of films proves she is an actresses endowed with plenty of intelligence. Though naysayers will differ and criticise her time and again solely because she had once goofed up the name of the President of the country.
It takes courage and will power to sign a film devoid of star trappings and glamour after having delivered a commercial blockbuster. Alia did precisely that when she signed up for Imtiaz Ali’s Highway as her second film after having tasted stardom in her debut outing. It was a gamble which paid off handsomely. While SOTY proved that the actress could easily fit into the conventional commercial format of Bollywood, Highway proved she could act. Her next film Two States only proved that she could successfully take on any challenge. Her biggest compliment after the release of Highway came from five-time National Award winner Shabana Azmi. The veteran actress candidly admitted that it took her nine years in the profession to display the level of emotional maturity in Arth before adding Alia was able to do the same in her second film.
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania offered her a role from the hinterland – a zone completely alien to a girl, brought up in Juhu. Kavya Pratap Singh was a role that would not only have made the director sceptical but Alia too if she could pull it off. All doubts were unfounded after the film released and once again Alia passed the test with flying colors. Her next film Shaandaar remains the only aberration in a career comprising mostly hits and super hits.
Over the years, Alia has mastered the art of stepping into any character effortlessly – which many fail to do throughout their professional careers. From a Bihari migrant to a South Indian to a sexually abused girl and now a spy – she has done it all in a brief career of just six years. The ease with which Alia can get under the skin of her character and inhabit the role in an unrehearsed manner is something which could only be described as inborn talent. The reason why Alia excels on most counts is closely interlinked to her never-say-die attitude. On many occasions, the actress herself has admitted that she hates losing and that the fear of failure keeps her on tenterhooks to deliver the best.
Alia’s role in Abhishek Choubey‘s Udta Punjab was a tough nut to crack. It demanded a 360-degree overhaul in Alia’s persona right from learning Bihari diction to mouthing expletives to portraying a drug addict. It was a complete antithesis to the usual female characters written in Bollywood films. The role required complete dedication and surrender to the character and she aced it. About her choice of roles, Alia once said, “You have to feel confident with the projects that you choose.” In the same interview, she mentioned the importance of respecting and following the instructions of your directors. “Every director has a tone or style that is his own, if you respect it then your performance too will have different tones in different films.”
Alia also comes across as someone who is fiercely independent thanks to her upbringing. So while Rishi Kapoor has on many platforms made mockery of his son’s choices (Wake Up Sid and Barfi), one is yet to hear a word from Mahesh Bhatt. That Alia remains independent in her choices and believes in taking care of herself is perhaps best reflected in a note that she had written to her father after the success of her debut film. The note simply said “Thank you papa for not helping me at all.” The note to this day remains a prized possession for Papa Bhatt and a testimony to how his daughter has grown as an actor.
With Raazi, Alia has completed a full circle of the journey that began with SOTY. Her upcoming films Gully Boy, Brahmastra and Kalank are sure to showcase more facets of the star. This will also be the phase when she will be pitted against some of the best actors in Bollywood — Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Madhuri Dixit and Amitabh Bachchan. It’s a no brainer that Alia has something up her sleeve.
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