'Alia is going to be the voice of Gangubai Kathiawadi in Berlin.'
Alia Bhatt is enjoying every moment of the attention that she's getting at the Berlin Film Festival, where she is attending the screening of her film Gangubai Kathiawadi.
The film will be premiered at the prestigious Berlinale Special Galas section on February 16.
This is the third time for the actress in Berlinale.
The first time she went was for Imtiaz Ali's Highway at the beginning of her career in 2014 .
Then, again, in 2018 with Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy.
"Alia is going to be the voice of Gangubai Kathiawadi in Berlin while (Director) Sanjay Leela Bhansali has decided to take a backseat," a source tells Subhash K Jha.
"She has done her homework and research on the rigorous Q&A sessions that will follow the two press screenings of Gangubai Kathiawadi. She is likely to be grilled about the lives of sex workers and she is ready for it."
"The Berlin Film Festival is very prestigious. That our Gangubai is invited to Berlin is a matter of great joy and pride for us," Bhansali says.
"Berlin has always welcomed my films warmly. In 1999, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam had been invited by what I'd like to think was divine intervention. The Berlin Film Festival's representative for South Asia Dorothy Wenner was in Mumbai. One evening she asked her taxi driver if he had seen any good films lately."
"The driver -- God bless him! -- immediately recommended Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. That's how she ended up seeing the film, loving it and inviting it to Berlin. I owe that taxi driver a big thank you," the director adds.
Recalling his last visit to Berlin in 1999, Bhansali says, "I had to return to Mumbai on the same night that I reached there to attend the Filmfare awards. I left right after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was screened."
Much has happened since then.
"It's a different world since then. Going out for a film now is a luxury not everyone can afford. Will Gangubai Kathiawadi bring the audiences back? I am hoping and praying it will. We've worked hard to make it a big screen experience."
The film-maker is all praise for his Gangubai, Alia Bhatt.
"The kind of hard work that she has put in says a lot about her dedication to her craft. Alia had no idea about the world that the real Gangubai inhabited. She had to learn from scratch. Alia is a fast learner. Her dedication to getting it right was fearsome."
Bhansali shudders when he remembers shooting for the Garba song with Alia, Dholida.
"She had to dance like a woman possessed, and she gave a hundred percent of herself. She created the whole frenzied dance in one shot. I knew I had to stop her before it was too late. If she had continued dancing for one more minute, she would have collapsed."