She turned 21 on March 15. Her father is a film producer and director and her mother was an actress. Just another star kid on the block you might say, but the two-film old Alia Bhatt, daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and Soni Razdan, is neither immature nor a spoilt brat.
Watch her stellar performance in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and you will know why. The girl has excelled in a role that many of her older peers would have struggled with. And going by the way Alia handles the media attention, this young actress is not one to be carried away by success or cowed down by failure.
Alia began her Bollywood career with Karan Johar’s Student of the Year in which she played, you guessed right, a glam doll. All she had to do was dress fashionably and pout. Just another star kid, one thought, enjoying her share of Bollywood limelight, thanks to influential parents. Just when one started to write her off, Alia stuns you with Highway, a deglamourised role in which she is shares screen space with an actor of Randeep Hooda’s calibre. And holds her own.
In Highway, Alia’s portrays a rich Delhi girl who develops Stockholm syndrome after being kidnapped by a bunch of Haryanvi thugs. She ends up falling in love with her kidnapper played by Randeep Hooda. Hooda’s character is crude, intense and yet vulnerable. Alia’s character goes from being scared and vulnerable to strong. The film starts with Hooda’s character being almost cruel to Alia’s character, but by the time half the movie is over, it is Alia’s character that is actually comforting Hooda’s character.
Credit must go to Imtiaz Ali’s skill as a director, but I did not expect Alia to emote so well with her eyes. She managed to share great chemistry with Hooda. Her body language and dialogue delivery spoke of a maturity beyond her years. Her best scene, according to me, is the one in the climax where she confronts her family. There is also the scene where she tells Hooda about how an uncle abused her as a child. Both these scenes are pretty intense.
Alia’s crowning glory in Highway, however, were the scenes in which she conveyed the unadulterated joy of a rich city girl introduced to the simple yet haunting beauty of rural India. She managed to convey the angst of a girl from a rich Delhi family, who can shop till she drops, but has no say in leading the life she wants. There is a great scene where she is wonderstruck by the rural sights and sounds; Hooda and his boys are bemused that what they see as a dusty wasteland brings so much pleasure to her.
“All I’ve seen are malls,” she explains. It’s the innocence that Alia brings to her character that adds value to the beautiful cinematography in the film.
Alia now joins Arjun Kapoor – another star kid with tremendous potential – in doing Two States, the film based on Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel about his marriage. If the promos are any indication, this film is going to add another feather in Alia’s little cap.
Bollywood is definitely changing and the so-called rich brats are leading the change.