Interview By: Amul Vikas Mohan
I’ve had the chance to interview Alia Bhatt three times prior to this and every single time I’ve learnt something new about her. She not only brings a new perspective to her career but she is actively bringing change in her attitude towards the craft as well. With every single movie she has done in the past, she has raised the bar and she has continued to grow and at the same time surprise the audiences with one memorable performance after another. I met the always busy like a bee actress to have candid chat about her career, her upcoming movie and everything else under the sun. Read on.
This is your sixth year and your tenth film, how do you feel you have evolved as a performer in these six years, how has the transition been?
I have evolved as a person so I guess because of that I have evolved as a performer, technically how I have evolved as a performer that only the audience will be able to tell. I think I still have the same attitude I had earlier. When I go on to a fi lm set for the very first time; I am still as nervous, confused and scared but I have evolved as a person, I am 25 years old today and I was 18 years when I started off , it’s a seven years difference also now with the responsibility in my life I have become an older person because of that, but still I am young at heart, I mean I am a young only ( laughs) but things like living alone, your life changes, there is so much of work, you have so much more responsibility, perspective on your life changes so lot of things have been factored in making me a different person today. But eventually I think if you just approach all your characters, just like the way your director wants you to approach, your performances would and will all be different, it can’t be having one tonal kind of effect.
You have also consciously tried to pick movies which are out of the comfort zone for a younger actor like you; be it a ‘Highway’ which was the second release immediately after a big fi lm like ‘STOY’, or be it ‘Raazi’ now or a ‘Udta Punjab’, is that a conscious decision or it comes naturally to you?
I love to challenge myself because there has to be a moment where I need to feel a little scared on sets, little bit worried thinking that I won’t be able to do it. Only when you overcome challenges and solve problems is when you feel satisfied. If you are just doing something which is not challenging you in any way; you are not going to feel satisfied because there is nothing that you are overcoming. But having said that; every kind of performance, every fi lm I feel a little bit challenging in some way. Even to do a fi lm like ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ wasn’t easy because it’s like commercial at the same time you need to balance the soul and the heart and be like all romantic with an actor who you have already considered to have such an amazing chemistry with to kind of live up to that. So for me, every fi lm is a challenge but of course a film like ‘Raazi’ is way more emotional, way more difficult because its one journey that you follow, so if the journey doesn’t work, nothing works. But luckily for me, I am not that kind of person who thinks of the end product while I’m working on it, while I’m working it’s all about the process and about the fi lm. It’s like let’s do the scene first then we’ll see if the audience will like it or not and then from the audience point of view I start thinking only when the fi lm is releasing.
This is your first film which is based on a true story, what kind of work went into something like this which is different from ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania” for instance where you don’t have to live up to a character, although the character in this fi lm is anonymous, but still you need to find some kind of characteristics to work on it?
Yes and that I found within the script, I didn’t find that externally for example a film like ‘Sanju’ there will be that pressure because you are living up to a person who you know of and who we are existing with. I don’t have that pressure in my situation even though it is based on an incredible true story because of the anonymity and also because there is no visual replication, there’s no expectations but within myself I had an expectation, that I had a responsibility so no matter what happens, no matter where this person is; if this person comes across this fi lm there will always be that thing that this is me, so that was the responsibility that I took within myself but having said that; the character I drew for myself was from the script, was from the conversations I had with Meghna and was from my interpretation of this girl’s journey. So, I had to give her a graph, I had to start her of with something, at some base and that base level is where I found my character. Like this is the kind of person she is – what happens through this journey is the situations.
What was the thing that made you say yes for this? Was it the book you read before, was it the script that came to you?
No, the book was not on shelf so I didn’t read it, the script also didn’t come to me because Meghna came to me without a script she came to me with a question – ‘Can I keep you in mind while I am writing the script’? This is the story and that will help me so I said go for it because it is the story that is shocking, I was actually thinking did this actually happen and then I asked her if she is sure? She said, yes she is sure and everything has been checked and its real, it’s not just inspired by true events but a true story. So there was no thinking I said please keep me in mind and I am making this fi lm with you whenever you are making it.
What are your expectations now that the trailer is out and people are loving the vibe of the fi lm and it’s not really a time where we see Avengers doing almost 200 crores, all these big films like ‘Baaghi’,‘ Padmaavat’ doing a big number, this one feels like a smaller film in terms of the feel and the mounting. May be the story is bigger than all of them but the point is that in the time when this is happening what is your expectations and what will you be happy with eventually.
I actually have wider expectations from this film; I don’t consider it as a niche fi lm because of the content. I am a bit like nervous and curious to see how it is because I really think it’s a very wide spread fi lm. Now it also depends on where the film is distributed which conversations I am having with my producers like what we are thinking about single screens, multiplexes will come but what about single screens because I feel like they will understand this fi lm, they will enjoy it.
Because of the patriotism?
No also because it’s a film about our country and we all are emotional about our country always. So yeah, those are the conversations I am having but it won’t be a 2000 screen release it has to be a limited number, may be so that we don’t have empty houses at the initially stage at least. But I am going to wait till the Friday evening or Saturday I will understand the fate of the fi lm and then let me see and I think if we start at a decent number on the word of mouth, which if really strong, it can go anywhere. If the word of mouth is kind of mixed then you can’t really tell.
“It’s just a matter of greed that I have taken so many films because I want to do all of them”
It’s amazing to see you having the trade lingo, who has put you onto it?
The thing is that I am very curious to see what kind of films are doing well like even today I am very happy to know that a fi lm like ‘102 Not Out’ the kind of number it will do; 4.25cr if I’m not mistaken which is amazing for the kind of fi lm it is and the director also I’m really fond of because he has made a fi lm that I thought was a really good fi lm and is able to connect with people. So, it’s a good week even with the fi lm like ‘Avengers’ is doing crazy. A fi lm like ‘102 not out’ can see that kind of audience so that gives me some hope for my fi lm. And for me to understand what kind of films are doing well is like a scientific experiment for what kind of films I should choose, if I know this is not a time for an urban Rom-com I will not to a urban Rom-com unless it has some kind of x factor to it, so it’s necessary to be aware of it otherwise I was just thinking that I good script might won’t be good for you but for a new comer rather than you.
We keep saying that the box office number is so important now a days, do you feel that it is so important and does that somehow gives the actor a little bit more pressure from the initial stages itself ?
You can’t base your complete career on that, like just because BAAGHI 2 has done exceedingly well, I know that it is not going to be my success even if I am a part of it, if you know what I mean, to put it very simply. Every formula does not apply to every person. To just get a sense of what kind of films are doing well, I am curious to know what a fi lm like RAAZI will hold in today’s time and what people are responding to it because everyone is saying that the line between commerce and content is getting blur and all, are they really getting blur let’s try and understand that. Why is a fi lm like Avengers doing so well? Where is the maximum revenue coming from? Is it coming from only the multiplexes, I don’t think so, If I am not wrong it’s coming from the dubbed version as well because it’s a spectacle fi lm, so then my curiosity increases more for a fi lm like BHARMASTRA, for me that can be our big spectacle fi lm. Having said that even a small fi lm can get a lot of love, a fi lm like OCTOBER might would not have gone crazy like any other Varun’s fi lm in the past but the kind of love it has got is nice; to see that certain audiences has that power and love to travel regardless of the numbers. HIGHWAY has been my least grossing fi lm technically but it has had maximum love for me at least as an individual. So I cannot make my career out of those films but I would want to once in a while not think about commerce, not think about the potential but just do a good fi lm and having the capability of doing a respectable fi lm which we are proud of, which we can say that is a good example for films like this.
The Director of the fi lm in the past has done something like TALVAR, it came out from nowhere, shocked the audiences and people liked it a lot and Junglee Pictures were the producers of that as well, so do you think that kind of confidence with the director and the producers does that combo works?
You feel that confidence when you sign the film, when you are saying yes to it but when you are releasing the film no amount of anything can give you confidence because that time the only people who are confident are people that unfortunately you don’t know until the fi lm is out. Even I remember while DEAR ZINDAGI was getting released I was so nervous. And it was my fi lm and Shah Rukh Khan was a part of it, so I thought I won’t be nervous, it will be good but still I was nervous. And this will not change because it’s your fi lm you are attached with it and you like your films a lot, so I am very happy, proud and grateful to be associated with Meghna, Junglee Pictures and Dharma but at the end of the day confidence comes from when you feel the audience will take to your fi lm and that could be in whichever capacity big, small or medium, once they take to your fi lm that’s the kind of satisfaction you want.
You have being working around the clock for this film, then you finished GULLY BOYS and then you went abroad for BHARMASTRA and now you have started shooting for KALAANK; are you not tried?
I am not tried yet, I have so much to do and I am living my dream, I am tried physically but not in my heart and not mentally.
How do you keep a time space between your films?
Sometimes when you want to do many films there is no space to even skip between two schedules, it’s just a matter of greed that I have taken so many films because I want to do all of them and I can make it work and I am loving it.