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Alia: I was never bought designer clothes; my mom didn't spoil me

February 18, 2014 15:14 IST

Alia: I was never bought designer clothes; my mom didn't spoil me


Patcy N

'We had some mixture of Maggie and pulao, which everybody had to sit on the road and eat. That was the best meal I had throughout the trip,' Alia Bhatt reveals the many challenges she faced while working on her second film, Highway.

After a blockbuster debut in Karan Johar's 2012 film Student Of The Year, Alia Bhatt will be seen next in Imtiaz Ali’s road movie Highway.

While the film did not impress our critic, who caught the film's screening at the Berlin Film Festival recently, we will get the Indian audiences' verdict when the film hits screens this Friday, February 21.

Ahead of her second film's opening, the 20-year-old actress speaks to Patcy N about the challenges she faced while working on the film, her relationship with her father -- veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt -- and her forthcoming projects.

You must have got many offers after Student Of The Year. How many films have you rejected?

I have signed every film that was offered to me, except for one which wasn't a major project.

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Image: Alia Bhatt
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar


'We were creating dialogues on the spot, inspired by the location'

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How much more challenging is your role in Highway than in Student Of The Year?

It was challenging doing Shanaya’s character in Student Of The Year as I didn't know how to walk in heels with poise or to be generally glamorous.

This film (Highway), on the other hand, was physically and emotionally exhausting. I had to push myself a lot.

It was a road movie so lots of things happened along the way but you had to be strong and keep going.

I had to run and jump, my body was bruised and battered. I also suffered from back pain because of sitting in the truck all the time. My whole body was sore. 

That said, the most exciting part of working on this film was travelling. We were shooting in very isolated areas, where even tourists haven't gone.

Weather conditions kept changing, we were constantly pressed for time but all that made it more exciting, spontaneous, and gave me a thrill.

We were creating dialogues on the spot, inspired by the location. I enjoyed that the most.



Image: Alia Bhatt in Highway

Tags: Shanaya

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'The only preparation I did for Highway was take a diction class'

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Did you have problems with the food served?

We did have a problem in Kaza, Himachal Pradesh.

It was snowing heavily, there was no electricity, no hot water and none of the hotels were open, so there was a time when food was not available.

We had some mixture of Maggie and pulao, which everybody had to sit on the road and eat. That was the best meal I had throughout the trip.

How different was your preparation for Highway from Student Of The Year?

I didn't prepare for my first film, except to walk in heels, and of course, I rehearsed the songs.

Even for this film, Imtiaz wanted me to be as raw and as untouched as possible. He wanted me to be like a blank sheet of paper.

The only thing I did was take diction classes because I play a Delhi girl.

Of all the places you travelled to for Highway, which place appealed to you the most?

Every location is special to me for different reasons except Delhi, because I got hurt a lot while shooting there.

Sambhar in Rajasthan was special because I celebrated my birthday there.

Punjab, because I got to climb a tree and run in a farm like you see Kajol doing in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Obviously I did not look as beautiful as she did.

Himachal Pradesh, because of the food I ate in Kaza. And I love the mountains.

Overall, the whole experience wasn't about six different states but about one long journey.

Image: Alia Bhatt in Vogue


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'I would love to work with Ranbir Kapoor'

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How was the experience of working with Randeep Hooda? He belongs to a different age group.

Randeep's character was a very difficult character to play, but he did it with ease and without saying much.

It is great to be with actors from whom you can learn. That's why I constantly keep saying that I would love to work with Ranbir Kapoor, not only because I am a fan, but because I think he is such a fantastic actor.

When you work with great actors you learn a lot. It is almost a selfish thing that you do to nurture yourself.

Has Karan Johar advised you on your career post SOTY?

Karan is the first person I would probably call and tell about the offers that I have got. I would talk to him about it because he is my mentor.

I have a three-film contract with Dharma Productions. I am their talent for the next five years.

So automatically I feel that he is the person I can fall back on any time I need advice.


Image: Alia Bhatt with Randeep Hooda

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'When you start feeling like you have arrived, that's when you fail'

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Do you speak with Karan Johar more than you speak with your father (Mahesh Bhatt)?

Yes, of course.

Does that mean your father is not involved in your professional decisions?

No, he is not involved in the decisions, but he knows where I am and what I am doing. He knows in which studio I am right now.

When I was in school he didn't even know which standard I was in.

What is your father's advice for your career?

He says 'keep your head on your shoulders.'

And though one wants to be successful, he told me that 'nothing fails more than success' because what's next after you achieve success?

When you start feeling like you have arrived, that’s when you fail.

Have you spoken to your father about working in his production house?

No, I am waiting for him to speak to me.


Image: Alia Bhatt in Highway

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'My first designer item was bought with my own money'

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Your mother has directed a film; do you have plans to work with her?

My mother and I keep on talking about what we can do together. We have lots of ideas, so god willing it will happen one day.

Do you talk to your sisters (director Pooja Bhatt and budding script writer Shaheen) about your films?

I speak to Shaheen about everything. She is the only person I talk to about this.

I take her advice because she doesn't please easy. Even my father seeks her opinion. He feels she is his toughest audience to convince.

You come from a filmi family. What kind of childhood did you have?

I had a normal childhood. I was brought up in a very good house. I went to a very good school. I was fed every day.

No one bought designer clothes for me. My first designer item was bought with my own money. I got pocket money but my mother didn't spoil me.

My father tried to spoil me but he never succeeded as my mother wouldn't let him. 

Image: Alia Bhatt
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar

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'Arjun Kapoor is a very funny person'

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Does Highway deal with Stockholm syndrome?

No, it doesn't. Stockholm syndrome is when you start feeling sympathy for your oppressor. This film is about finding comfort in the most uncomfortable circumstances.

Tell us about the song that you sing in the film.

The song is called Sooha Saha. It means little red rabbit and is a lullaby. Randeep's character has a very close connection with the song.

There are only three or four lines that I sing.

Imtiaz thought it would be a cool idea if I sang it myself -- he had heard me sing one day -- and Rahman sir (A R Rahman) agreed.

Is your role in Two States any different from the one in the novel, on which the film is based?

No. I play a modern South Indian girl in Two States, who doesn't speak with a weird South Indian accent.

There is bit of Tamil I will be speaking in the film, with my family.

You worked with Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra in SOTY and Arjun Kapoor in Two States. Who are you the most comfortable with?

I am most comfortable with Varun and Siddharth. I did my first film with them so they are very special.

Arjun has a special place in my life because I met him when I was in between shooting for Highway. I went through a transition at that time, and I could speak to him about anything and everything.

He became a really good friend.

Plus, he is a very funny person and I love a good sense of humour in a person. 

Image: Alia Bhatt with Arjun Kapoor
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar

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