Alia Bhatt made an impressive debut in the tinsel town with Karan Johar's 'Student Of The Year'. This was followed by a series of hit films until she hit the road block with Vikas Bahl's 'Shaandaar' which was a cold turkey at the box office.
However the young girl emerged unscathed and as she gears up for the release of her upcoming film 'Kapoor & Sons', in a candid chat, Alia talks about her role, what 'Shaandaar' taught her, her alleged beau Sidharth Malhotra and her forthcoming projects.
Excerpts from conversation-
Q. 'Kapoor & Sons' is a typical dysfunctional family story. So how much does this girl next door add spice to the film?
A. Definitely she will add a bit of laughter. Because Tia's character is one of those girls who is just randomly happy about everything, who loves life and has fun in each and every moment. She is constantly playing pranks on people and messing around with them. She is someone who is trying to find goodness in every thing. So there is lot of depth to her but she also has the lightest side in the film.
Q. How similar are you in real life to your on-screen character?
A.If you see 'Kar Gayi Chul', the way she is dancing and the way she is partying, I am like that when I am with the people I love and with my friends. But I can really go down as well. I am a very moody person, a typical Piscean. So all that really works against me sometimes, but there are a few similarities. I am not as vocal and chilled out as she (my character in the film) is. I am a little more hyper. She has a very simple and normal approach to life.
Q. In 'Student Of The Year' you were working with Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan. Now in 'Kapoor & Sons' you again have two co-stars, Sidharth and Fawad Khan. How easy was it for you to work this time?
A.There is never something easy or difficult in terms of playing characters. Our film is not a love triangle. The plot doesn't really revolve around that angle. It's about relationships. Working with both of them was lovely. We had a blast. There were constantly playing cricket, dumb-charades, gold-spot. We were only playing games. I don't know when we shot. It was just like a game-fest with we shooting in between. We had too much fun when we are all together in Coonoor.
Q. Who is the craziest between the two- Sidharth or Fawad?
A.They both are crazy in their own ways. Sid is absolutely retarded; he is always pulling people's legs. Fawad has his own sense of sarcasm and humour.
Q. How was it working with Fawad?
A.It was lovely. I was completely blown away by his performance, the way he delivers as an actor and transports you to another world. Now I see why the women are going crazier over him. He is so mesmerizing as an actor. He has so much to offer on-screen, his presence is so strong and his eyes speak so much.
Q. Your last film 'Shaandaar' didn't do well at the box office. So what do you think what wrong with that film?
A.I don't think that one can really point out to one thing that went wrong. Definitely I would not point fingers towards one person. It was a collaborative effort to make a film. I just feel that it didn't come together. What we intended to make and what we achieved didn't have any synergy. The film probably seemed a bit disjointed when you saw it. But no hard feelings against any situation as such. I still have no regrets about doing that film because I have a lot of pleasant memories and have learnt a lot from it. I feel that I needed that setback where one of films didn't do well. Because all my films before that did well. In fact after that film (Shaandaar) I have become way calmer. As a person, in my head, I am not hyperventilating about everything. If it's a good film it will always do well.
Q. Has 'Shaandaar' made you choosy about films?
A.No, I was anyways choosy. I would still choose the films the way I did before. Nothing has changed apart from the fact that I have opened up my head a little more, be a little more aware. Maybe read and do a narration and vice-versa. Earlier I used to only read. Now I will do both and also be a little more aware about the choices you make.
Q. 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania' released in June 2014 and then there was a huge gap before you did 'Shaandaar'. This year you have three films releasing back to back. So is there any pressure or is it the way you like it?
A.I don't really have this balance in my hand. I wish that I could have just two films releasing a year. But I always feel that one should break the monotony. There shouldn't be a pattern like oh, one release in July and one in November. Instead it should be like people should expect and not expect.
Q. So how do you choose your films, Alia?
A.I will give you an example. For 'Kapoor & Sons' I can probably say that my screen time is the least because the film revolves around the family. For me it's the film and then it's the character. If it's a good film and an average character, I will tell the director to work on my character. But if it's a good film and a great character then I tell the director to give me my schedule.
Q. You took 'Highway' as your second film which nobody expected from you since you were a newcomer then. Now you have 'Udta Punjab' which again deals with a dark theme. Are you trying to balance the types of films that you do?
A.Honestly speaking Udta Punjab was not even offered to me. No one would have thought, at least the director didn't think that I would do the film. He didn't even come to me with it. Shahid gave me the film to read. He said that you just read it and let me what you think. And then I just fell in love with the film. I said that I have to do this film. That's how it happened. But it is a conscious effort to balance it out. I don't want to be known as a pretty face. That's not for what I am here.
Q. 'Highway' was highly critically acclaimed although it wasn't a box office preposition. But do you think that 'Udta Punjab' will take them a notch higher.
A.The film is a complete step away from myself. I know that it's a completely different zone. You would probably be even not able to recognize me. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it translates on screen.
Q. You have worked with some of the best directors from the lot. Which director's sensibility did you find difficult to match upto?
A.Shakun Batra. He is a very particular director. He is not easy to please. Usually it's only one or two takes. But Shakun is like on and on because he will just get something out of you that you ain't expecting. He is one of the best directors I have worked with.
Q. Earlier nobody would have thought about you doing a film with a Khan because of the age gap. Today when you are doing a film with Shah Rukh Khan, do you think that it would open up roles for you to do with others Khans and also for the other actors of your generation.
A.Ya..I hope so. I am being offered roles with older men even right now. Because it's not only love stories any more. The problem is that we have always had the love story at the forefront. These days films are not only about love. Of course love is there in every one's life but that's not the most important thing. That's what we are trying to show that it's not only a love story which will do well. There are other films happening also. There are different relationships and characters having different moments in life.
Q. How was it working with Shah Rukh Khan? How did things fall in place?
A.Oh he is fantastic. He is my favourite co-star. It was so lovely and easy to work with him. He would literally like listen to everything everybody says. He has not complained once on the sets. It was really hot there. I was like 'It's so hot, bring this and that'. He even gifted me a nice portable fan. That was very sweet of him. He's the most amazing energy to work with. I can't wait to go back on sets with him. Also I got to learn so much. I was like looking and observing him. He is so good. In fact he does homework for every scene.
Q. Were you initially intimated by him?
A.For five minutes. He doesn't make me feel intimated. He makes you feel comfortable. I was definitely very nervous. But I have a very easy relationship with him.
Q. When are you starting the next schedule of Gauri Shinde's film?
A.I start shooting for that film again from 23th March. The film hasn't been titled yet.
Q. Alia, there were reports about you doing Shashank Khaitan's next with Varun Dhawan titled 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania'?
A.I have no idea about this
Q. You are doing Ayan Mukherjee's super-hero film with Ranbir Kapoor. Most of the times we see the heroines playing a damsel in distress in such films. Will it be sometime different in store for you in this film like some action scenes?
A.I don't know about the action part; but I can definitely say that it won't be your usual run-of-the-mill super hero film. Ayan's head, I think, is a magnificently genius brain. He has a world of his own in this film and I just can't wait to really start making it. I think that it would be something first of its kind. I will start shooting for it by this year end.
Q.A lot of our actresses are working in the west. Do you have any such plans?
A.Oh ya.. but not now. First let me do something here.
Q. Our Indian cinema is changing with a lot of women-oriented films these days. So would you like to be a part of them?
A.Of course. I want to change this perception of 'oh women cinema'. It should come to like, next time I should be asked that oh men are doing men oriented films. It should come to that. People should be shocked about men oriented films now rather than women-oriented ones.
Q. Your take on does it really matter the age thing in this industry?
A.No..not at all. It's a number. But obviously there are many people who have a certain idea about the way films should be made. Slowly you have to take baby steps. You just can't throw a bomb at people and say okay an older man and a younger woman and now watch them. It will take time. Firstly such films have to do well. People should enjoy them and see it as a different take.
Q. What kind of films would you like to do from the west?
A.I would like to do films like 'Silver Lining Playbook' or 'Brooklyn'. All such films which are character-driven. I would also like to do something intense like 'Blue Jasmine'.
Q. You were to work with Homi Adajania in 'Raabta' but things didn't work out. Will we see you in his next which stars Sushant Singh Rajput?
A.I haven't been approached yet.
Q. What's the latest update on 'Shuddhi'?
Q. There are also rumours about you dating Sidharth Malhotra? How do you take that? Is it difficult to work with him in such situations?
A.The way you guys are talking, it's as if the stories are just out. No..no..I love him. There's no stress. It was as usual amazing shooting with him."
Q. If given a chance which Bollywood remake would you love to do?
A.'Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin' and 'Dil Toh Paagal Hai'.
Q. Biopics are the current flavour of the season. Would you like to play a real life character on screen and which?
A.I would love to do a biopic on Pakistani singer Nazia Hassan. She was very young and we lost her at a very early age. One of her first songs 'Disco Deewane' was in my first film. There are many interesting aspects of her life.